Life is a long journey—and often an arduous one. If you can learn better ways to think, act and react, your road will be a lot less bumpy and so much more enjoyable. Test these tips for keeping calm and kind in various situations and watch your life transform around you.
Most of the time it’s not about you. As humans, we’re naturally the center of our universe—so it can be difficult to truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you feel like someone wronged you—perhaps they’ve blown off your phone calls or didn’t invite you to a recent dinner party—remind yourself that you’re not privy to all the details of their life. Who knows if they’re going through a rough patch in their marriage or dealing with an illness; give them the benefit of the doubt. Plato wisely reminds us of this truth: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Acknowledge that people may not be aware of your troubles. This goes hand-in-hand with the last tip; just like you don’t know all the ins and outs of other people’s lives, they don’t know yours. If you’re struggling with something, it can be easy to get upset or irritated with someone who seems less than compassionate or kind—but they probably don’t understand how you’re feeling. Make sure you’re communicating properly, otherwise they might feel miffed by your reaction to them—and a vicious cycle emerges.
Ask people questions that matter. This is a really simple way to be more kind; ask people about themselves! We’re not talking about the generic “How are you?” but deeper, more thoughtful questions. For example, “Are you still loving your new job?” or “Has your mom been feeling better lately?” Pay attention to the things your friends, family members, acquaintances or co-workers care about and ask them personal questions; they’ll feel heard, loved and cherished.
Relax on your rules. People live all sorts of different lives! Just because you like to do something a certain way, doesn’t mean others do, too. By allowing for more flexibility in your expectations of others, you’ll be more calm and less likely to get irked by another’s habits or actions.
Listen; really, really listen. Most of the time when you’re in a conversation—especially a heated one—you’re more than likely listening to reply, instead of listening to understand. Nothing good ever comes from this, and most often you’ll feel worse off than you began because neither of you were heard. Instead of formulating your response as the other person talks, tune into what they’re saying—and when it’s your time to talk, take your time and digest and address what you’ve heard first.
Learn to let things go. This might be one of life’s more challenging hurdles—but if you master it, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come. Someone may have cut you off on the expressway or stepped in front of you in line—but in the grand scheme of things, how much does that really matter?
Pick out something to admire about others. This is especially helpful if there’s that person who just rubs you the wrong way. It can be really easy to focus on peoples’ not-so-redeeming qualities, but that’s just poisoning you, your thoughts and your general feelings. Instead, practice admiration or gratitude for the positive qualities the people around you exhibit.