Life can be hard. It can be frustrating. You may find yourself cursing under your breath at the person who cut you off in traffic, or the couple who’s child is too loud in the restaurant or the coworker who tells the same jokes all the time.
There are so many little annoyances that we run into each and every day, and all of the negativity that they generate can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes you may even wonder how good of a person you are if all of these little things get under your skin.
If you look at your life and find that you’re not quite the person you want to be, there’s good news. You can create a major change in your life (and in the lives of others) by making little changes. Here are a few habits you can develop to make yourself a better human being overall.
1. Smile More
This may sound hokey, but there’s real science behind this.
If you smile at strangers as you pass them on the street, it can have an effect on their mood and make them more likely to smile during the day. It also elevates your mood as well. On top of that, taking the time to smile at yourself in the mirror for 10 seconds each morning has been shown to generate an even greater mood boost than just smiling.
2. Track Your Gratitude
Start keeping a journal of the day-to-day things that you’re grateful for.
Record the little things that make you happy, the things that people do for you and all of the random acts of kindness that you observe throughout the day. Tracking the good things like this can reduce stress, improve your outlook and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Be sure to read through the journal periodically to recall just how grateful you were about things.
Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can cause the body to release neurotransmitters that calm the nerves and decrease impulsiveness.
Exercise reduces stress, strengthens your heart and other muscles, improves mood and generally makes you healthier and happier. This puts you in the perfect mindset to go out and change the world.
4. Practice Forgiveness
Everybody has people in their past who have wronged them.
The more grudges and bad feelings you carry around with you, the more negativity you send out into the world. Every day, take a moment to think about someone who’s wronged you in some way and try to forgive them. That isn’t always easy, and it may take many days or even weeks or months for you to really start getting over it. Even if there are some people that you have trouble forgiving, those that you do forgive will lighten your burden and make it easier for you to put your trust in others.
5. Set Daily Goals
Pick up a pen every morning and write down the one thing that you want to accomplish that day.
Sure, there might be dozens of things that you need to do, but this is talking about the one specific thing that is your top priority. It doesn’t have to be the most important task that you have that day and it doesn’t even have to relate to work. It’s just the thing that will define your day and make you feel fulfilled. If you don’t accomplish it, don’t worry… most likely, you can write it down as your goal for the next day too.
6. Acknowledge Others
Most likely, you’re surrounded by people who do good work every day.
Be sure to acknowledge their accomplishments. Telling others that they’ve done a good job will not only improve their outlook and prompt them to keep it up, but it may encourage them to acknowledge the accomplishments of others as well.
Practice active listening when other people talk, asking questions where appropriate or making other comments so that they know you’re paying attention.
This habit can make a huge difference in your relationships with others. You should also listen to yourself from time to time as well… pay attention to the things you say and how you say them, making note of any negativity or harshness so that you can work on giving your words a positive spin instead of a negative one.