One of my mottos is: be better tomorrow. For all of us, there’s always room for improvement and growth, a chance to be better.
People always say you should change only for yourself, but the truth is, changing for the sake of others can improve the quality of your relationships. It’s a fine balance, but it’s possible.
There are four areas in life that I want to improve, but most people will be able to relate. These are the steps we can take together to create the type of change we want in our lives.
1. Put Your Phone Down When Someone Speaks to You
Isn’t it rude when you’re in the middle of talking and the person you’re speaking with grabs their phone? Even if they assure you they’re listening, their attention is split — and mostly, it’s on the phone. You’ve become muffled noise.
I despise when people do that to me, and yet, I do it all the time. When someone’s speaking to me, I’ll pick up my phone for no reason, and open social media. We don’t even need notifications to get distracted.
It’s a terrible thing to do. When someone talks to us, we should respect them enough to give them our full attention. It’s rude to look away.
If you’re on your phone, and someone starts talking to you, put it down. This is the hardest part for me, but here’s the thing: your emails, your article, the tweets — they’re going to be there when you get back to it in five minutes. Actually, they’ll be there forever. The person in front of you isn’t.
Besides, what’s more important? A stranger’s tweet or the conversation you’re having with your sister? Your partner? Your best friend?
We have to promise ourselves that when someone starts talking to us, we’ll lock our phone and put it down. Resist the urge to glance at your phone. No, it’s not always easy, which is sad, but our loved ones deserve respect.
Our relationships thrive when we work on them, and because of that, our quality of increases. Never forget the importance of connecting with people.
2. Learn to Love Your Body
Most people don’t love their bodies. Hell, they don’t even like them. Thanks to magazines, the number of celebrities on television with six-packs, and photo-editing apps, we’re exposed to flawless bodies all of the time — no hair, no stretch marks, no fat.
When we realize our bodies aren’t as perfect as theirs, our self-esteem plummets. I used to stare at myself in the mirror and feel angry for looking the way I did.
One day, I got sick of staring at myself with disgust so I decided that I was going to change the way I viewed my body. Every time I looked in the mirror, I’d say, “This is a real body.” I’d think of everyone I know, everyone who’s bodies looked like mine, and think, “Those are real bodies.”
My stretch marks, the way my thighs get big when I sit, my round face — I fell in love with everything by remembering that my body is real and beautiful.
If you look at someone who has a body that looks like yours, you don’t think they’re ugly, do you? So why would you think that about yourself?
Ever since I started loving my body, I feel less insecure about the clothes I wear. I stopped exercising to get abs and started exercising because it’s good for my body. Your entire quality of life improves when you learn to love yourself.
I only wrote this because there are areas I still need to learn to love. What can you love about yourself?
3. Don’t Laugh at Jokes You Don’t Think Are Funny
People make a lot of mean jokes. Homophobic jokes, racist jokes, fat jokes. Humor at the expense of someone else’s pain is not funny. If you wouldn’t make a fat joke in front of a fat person, you shouldn’t be making that joke at all.
A few months ago, my sister decided that she wouldn’t laugh at jokes she didn’t think were funny. This is a pretty tough thing to do. You can get away with it if you’re with a big group, but if it’s one or two people you’re speaking with, they’ll notice. They’ll be offended that you didn’t laugh at their joke.
Not laughing at jokes you think aren’t funny sounds like a silly change, but it’s a way of saying, “I’m not standing for this. I’m not standing for bullying.” Eventually, people will start catching on. Maybe they won’t stop making those types of jokes in front of others, but they’ll stop making them in front of you.
Not laughing at a joke is about standing up for what’s right without actually standing up and doing something about it. It’s hard not to crack even a smile for the sake of your friends and family, but once you start putting this into practice, you’ll feel more confident in yourself.
It’s a small step toward not taking bullshit, but even small change is change. Not caring about what people think is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’ll take you far, and help you love your life a little more.
4. Stop Judging Others and Focus on Yourself
I judge people a lot. I don’t make mean jokes, but I do think about all the ways people can change and be better. I thought it was justified because I wasn’t being mean — I was trying to help them (because yes, I’d bring it up sometimes).
But it’s not our job to help or save people, especially if they don’t ask for it. It’s egotistical to think that they can’t figure out what they need to do for themselves. To think that we need to save people from themselves.
Instead of judging others, we need to learn to judge ourselves. (Not harshly, of course.) It’s the reason I’m writing this article. I decided that I‘d look at everything I do wrong, and make a game plan for how to do better.
I judge people for not looking at me when I talk to them, but I do the same. I judge people for judging others, but I do the same. So, I’m taking all of that judgment and flipping it inwards.
We can’t keep judging people and let ourselves off the hook because we’re not perfect either.
Gabby Bernstein, the author of Judgment Detox, wrote: “It’s easier to make fun of, write off, or judge someone for a perceived weakness of theirs than it is to examine our own sense of lack.”
Instead of trying to change others, figure out what you can change about yourself. How can you be better? What do you do wrong? How can you treat the people around you better? This is your life, and it’s yours to do whatever you want with. Let others live their own.
These are the areas I want to improve in my life, but I have a feeling they’re universal. However, take a look at other areas you’d like to improve.
Maybe you have a habit of interrupting people, you’re closed-minded and don’t listen to ideas that aren’t yours, or you follow people instead of leading.
Don’t try to change everything at once. That’s difficult and overwhelming, but start small and figure out what steps you can take to become a better person. It’s not easy, but it’s well worth the effort.