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Want to Be a Better Human? Practice Daily

Life is full of opportunities to be a better human. 

I am always struck by the emotional qualities of the people I run into. 

Many leave a positive impression that buoys my spirit. For example, my 2 teenage sons give me hugs throughout the day. I realize that these are "normal" behaviors that I could easily take for granted, but I notice that they pause for a moment and give me their attention, and it makes me happy. I hope it is a sign that they are developing a habit of kindness. 

Here's another: Recently, in the crush of pre-Thanksgiving shopping, a stranger held the door for me and said, "enjoy your day!" This was a small delight that took the person only 5 seconds of effort but improved my day. 

In contrast, 2 friends have recently received particularly nasty notes stuck to their windshields. One friend had made a great effort to park as evenly as possible in a jam packed lot, only to return to her car and read a note scribbled on the back of a receipt. The note said, "Thanks for blocking me in! You are an inconsiderate parker with no regard for anyone else. Does acting like this make you happy?"

Notice the sarcasm, accusation of negative intent, and the guilt that the writer took time to convey through their carefully chosen words. 

In my mind, this is absolutely unnecessary. But even more disturbing was that another friend had the same kind of nasty note left on her car later that week. Was this the same angry parking lot parker with a stack of such notes? Or is this a sign of an unfortunate trend indicating that we are at risk of losing our ability to just let it go sometimes, and take the higher road? 

 

Think about the number of times each day or week that you can either…

  • Turn and actually pay attention to someone, or just pretend.
  • Remove the edge from your voice, or be just a little bit snarky. 
  • Speak up respectfully about your needs, or walk away and complain to someone else that you didn't get what you needed. 
  • Pause and say a meaningful 'thank you,' or just assume that the other person knows that you appreciate them. 
  • Let it go, or leave a nasty notes for a total stranger. 

All day long, we have choices about how to "show up." We may think in the moment that we are too busy to pause and be a little better, or that we are "justified" in our anger, but most the time that's an excuse. It doesn't take any more time, and only slightly more effort to show up with a hint more generosity, kindness, and grace. 

Imagine what the world would feel like if everyone made that effort. 

The challenge is that we "react," when we would be better off pausing and connecting. We get swept up into simply "doing" and we lose touch with the quality of our "being," and certainly with the impact we are making.  

If you want to improve your "emotional footprint," follow these 3 steps:

  1. Set your intention: What small shift can you make today that will help you be a better human? 
  2. Imagine the opportunity: What situations might arise that will allow you to practice?  
  3. Lock it in: When you have made a small but positive shift in the way you "show up" or interact with others, pause and acknowledge the good thing you just did. That will make it easier to do more of the same.

 Now, go make it a great day for yourself and others!

 


About the Author: Claire Laughlin is a highly regarded training expert who has dedicated her career to studying and improving patterns of communication in organizations. Claire works across various industries, coaching individuals and creating large scale, global-reaching training programs designed to uplift and support excellence across functions and cultural divides. Claire shares her expertise by offering training solutions for all levels of professional development.

 

 

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