5 Ways to be Nicer Person

Being a nice person does not create empires, nor does it pay much money, and it certainly will not peg you atop the growing entrepreneurial startup frenzy. Kindness is inherently without monetary value because it intrinsically aligns itself to altruism — that is performing acts that benefit others without benefit to yourself.

I’m not being judgmental here, just observational — I encounter many spiteful, selfish, self-centered people every day. Before you jump in and say “but I’m a great person! Everyone loves me!” — that’s cool, but most people are not. Thank you for being you. For everyone else, I thought I’d share some tips on to how to be a kinder person.

Mind you these tips will not make you more successful, produce any tangible yield, or in general have a huge affect on your life. I suffer from depression and anxiety weekly and being a nicer person has not driven either of these afflictions away, but it has made a noticeable difference in the lives of those around me.

So if you really truly want to try to make a difference in the lives of others knowing well that you will probably get nothing out of it yourself other than having people tell you how nice you are, here are five relatively short tips on how to take steps to be a kinder human being that have worked for me.

Number One — Understanding

Understanding is a seed from which all virtues blossom.

This is the umbrella tip that encompasses all that follows. It’s so important that if you choose to take from any of these ideas, it should be this one. I cannot stress how important it is to cultivate understanding for others in your daily lives. It will lead to you having a more generous, calm, patient, and compassionate life.

What is understanding?
Quite simply — understanding is putting yourself in the shoes of another and trying to break-down the rationale of their actions. It’s not passing judgement nor is it in an attempt to help the other person in any way. It simple is a way to relate to another human being and understanding their struggle before reacting.

The Bully

I had a bully in high-school, as we probably all did. He relentlessly tortured me and teased me all throughout and pretty much made my freshman through sophomore years miserable. Every opportunity he got to humiliate me was taken. It was not a good time to be me. When I graduated and left to be on my own, I had a lot of built up hate and anger towards this person. I wanted revenge of some sort, or I wanted to figure out a way that I could return some day and show him I was better than him… or some nonsense like that.

However one day I was discussing this over with an old friend who informed me that my bully had come from a broken home; his father, before leaving his family, would beat him relentlessly. His mother was a drug addict and threw drug and alcohol fueled parties on the regular in their home. His house was more or a less a flophouse for the less savory type. I realized that the situation he had experienced cultivated him into the bully he was. Although his actions were his own, he was a victim of a terrible home life and his experiences had led him down a path where it was almost inevitable he would be the way he was. Unfortunately for me, I was his output — but the life he had led was already far worse than any revenge I might be able to inflict on him. I understood his struggle and was set free from anger.

“Revenge is an admission of pain: A mind that is bowed by injury is not a great mind.” — Seneca

The next time you encounter someone who has “done you wrong” in some way, be it an insult, cutting you off in their car, messing up your food order, whatever the circumstance may be — take a moment and try to empathize with their life. Try to understand that most people don’t maliciously commit evil acts without any sort of reason. The lives people live cultivate them into who they are and we are all (more or less) victims of circumstance.

Number Two — Patience

This one is a tough sell for a lot of people. It’s hard to be patient when the world is so filled with instant-gratification and everything comes quick and easily. We must all understand that no matter how far ahead you get in life, no matter how much you life-hack every aspect of your day, you will find times where you must wait.

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” — Joyce Meyer

Of course when I’m standing in line forever I get antsy. Of course when I’m waiting on a friend to arrive I feel tinges of frustration when they are late. However, I keep these feelings in check; I take a deep breath and knowing that my impatience is not changing the situation for the better, I adjust. I develop an attitude of acceptance — having to wait is the universe’s way of tempering patience into me. Every time I am forced to wait, I remember it’s a chance to practice patience.

The Crosswalk Test

Next time you’re at a crosswalk and the ‘walk signal’ is about to go off (the moment where people cross the street regardless because they know oncoming traffic has a red light) — just wait for the walk signal. Wait that 2 extra seconds to cross. Reflect on your feelings of having to wait. Even those 2 seconds can sometimes feel like a lifetime when you’re in a rush.

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” — Romans 5:3–4

People feel entitled to their time and sometimes view having to wait as time-theft. Practicing and cultivating patience will diminish these feelings and lead to a more positive outlook throughout the day, and will improve your relationships with other people. People notice patience.

Number Three — Altruism

This one is so simple, and you’re going to have to just trust me. Just be generous with your time, assets, and life. Don’t do it for any other reason than to just be generous. Don’t expect anything in return, and certainly don’t expect any acknowledgement for your good deeds. Just be more generous in everything you do.

Trying to convince people to be more altruistic is like pulling teeth. No one wants to do anything unless it benefits them, and the idea of giving something for nothing is unheard of in today’s world. But we must all take steps to cultivate altruism if there is any hope for the world. We must freely give to each other without demand of repayment in any form. Although the rewards appear to be nothing on your end (other than fuzzy feelings that you did something good), understand that altruism leads to a happier life for those around you and to the betterment of mankind. Again, this is one point that you are just going to have to take my word on.

“Do not be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” — Philippians 2:3–4

Just like altruism, I cannot convince you to do something when there is no tangible reward for you in return. You are just going to have to take steps to improve this aspect in your life.

Number Four — Respect

This one might be a bit too hippy / new age / bohemian for some people, but I feel it’s important. It’s hard to believe that some people have no respect for living creatures, but it’s absolutely true. Just as people can know that animals suffer in factory farming but buy the meat that leads to their suffering, people will knowingly participate in aspects of their life that they know hurt others but they do anyways.

For example, anytime you put yourself before another person. I don’t mean this as “be a footstool for others”, I mean this as a “stop thinking what benefits you is most important”. Anytime you do something and the voice in your head says “Screw it / Whatever / I don’t care” you are probably doing something that ends up hurting someone — be in intentionally or not.

“Follow the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.” — Dalai Lama

Be more considerate with your actions and be aware of their effects on others. Nothing we do goes by without some sort of consequence or reaction. Although we cannot possibly observe the effects down to the ripples in the water, it can be clear as day as how our actions can shift the mood of others.

Number Five— Teachers

We, as a people, need to stop worshiping celebrities and sports stars and encouraging young people to look as these folks as ‘heroes’. I can respect talent when I see it, but as far as role-models go most of these heroes don’t have a lot to offer in the realm of ethics or morality.

“Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything — even mountains, rivers, plants and trees — should be your teacher.” — Morihei Ueshiba

Find people who can act as mentors towards a more gentle lifestyle. For myself, the following people have changed me for the better:

Alan Watts
Morihei Ueshiba
Lao Tzu
Jesus Christ
Lhama Dondrug
Siddhartha Gautama

There are plenty of good choices out there, but for me these folks resonate most. I write their teachings down, quote them, take aspects of their lives and apply it to mine, and their lessons have shaped me as a person. I recommend everyone finds proper heroes and mentors to help them down a more compassionate path. Although there are many gurus and mentors on Medium, or on blogs, or the internet in general, find the ones who have shaped history already. Their methods have already been tested.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the things I personally do to try to be kinder or more compassionate, and it takes years of practice and tempering to change yourself for the better. Taking the appropriate first steps is the most important thing to do. I wish you the best. ❤

“Day after day
Train your heart out.
Refining your technique:
Use the one to strike the many!
That is the discipline of a warrior.”
- Morihei Ueshiba