One of my favorite quotes to turn to in times of confusion is this:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Unfortunately for me, I’m almost always in a state of uncertainty, so the number of times I’ve pored over those words happens to be quite frequent.
Just kidding (sort of).
Still, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has a valid point; the beautiful people in the world are not created naturally.
Think about the people you look up to in admiration.
Whether it's their generosity, their warmth or their general empathy for the human race, all of that did not come naturally to them.
I’m a believer in the idea it is within our nature to commit acts of kindness, but I’m even a bigger believer in the idea the best people are the ones who try the hardest.
I’m not saying everyone is inherently good.
Human beings are far too complex to be summarized into such polarizing categories.
But what I am saying is that everyone — even you — has the capacity to be a decent person.
Because the best kind of people, the beautiful souls we all desperately need, are the ones who put in the effort to be a better person each and every day.
Of course, life gets hard, and we succumb to our more negative sides.
We’ve all slipped and made a mean comment (or seven).
There are moments in our lives when we royally screw up and become the worst version of ourselves.
But there is so much validity in just trying, in spite of all the slipups, to make the world a better place.
Kübler-Ross was right; no one becomes beautiful without trying.
I’m not an expert on being a good person by any means, but I do think there are everyday steps we can all take to ensure we become our very best selves.
At the end of the day, why wouldn’t you want to be someone who regularly aspires to be a kind soul?
Here are five things you can practice every day to become a better person:
1. Do something positive.
The best part about being your best self is you don’t necessarily have to do something grand for it to matter.
In fact, one of the greatest things you can do for all of humanity is taking care of yourself.
I like to remind myself that even if I’m having a terrible day, there’s someone in the world having the greatest day.
I love the clickbait articles about hope in humanity because, yes, I do happily tear up at the sight of someone jumping into a river to rescue a dog.
Read an uplifting quote through an app or start a calendar of good things that have transpired each day.
There’s good to be found in the worst of times, and I find it encouraging to remind myself there’s light even in the darkest of places.
2. Compliment a friend.
I’m often guilty of taking my friends for granted.
There is no doubt in my mind the people I regularly I surround myself with are beautiful people, inside and out.
I’m constantly amazed at the strides they’ve made and the feats they’ve accomplished.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, I’m not always the best at vocalizing my love for them.
Something simple everyone can do is to just convey a nice thought about a friend when it comes to mind.
If you’re feeling sentimental about an important bond, tell that person how grateful you are to have him or her in your life.
Even a simple “Hey, I love you” text can go a long way.
3. Show your appreciation.
If I can think of one constant factor in my life, it would be the kind souls who serve me my daily dose of caffeine at 5 am.
No one wants to be up at such an ungodly hour, but there they are.
You would be amazed at the number of people you regularly pass by in life without a single acknowledgment.
Whether it's food service workers, janitors or everyday people, everyone has a reason for existing, and everyone deserves to feel validated for being here.
You don’t have to be close to someone to let him or her know you’re glad he or she's here and alive.
Everyone is on his or her own journey to somewhere, and it wouldn’t hurt to see a friendly face, stranger or not, along the way.
4. Do things without expecting reciprocation.
I think one of the worst things about our culture nowadays is we’ve been conditioned to think of actions in terms of measurement.
If we do X, then we deserve Y.
Almost everything has been narrowed down to a list of “What can I gain from this?”
But here’s my question: Why?
We’re all struggling, thriving and breathing under the same constellations.
You don’t need a reason to perform an act of kindness.
When you let go of the idea people are obligated to do something for you, you get a sense of freedom that allows you to do absolutely everything and anything.
You don’t need a reason to be a better person, and you don’t need a reason to be nice.
So, stop searching for one and just do it.
5. Think about your actions.
One of the most thoughtful and impactful steps we can take as conscious creatures of the world is think about our behavior before acting.
Take 10 seconds to ask yourself, “What will my words reflect?”
You might be amazed to discover what you’d do differently.
You can spend the next minute of your life consciously or inadvertently hurting yourself or someone else, or you can turn that 60 seconds into a moment of purpose.
It’s your time, your behavior and your consequences.
The hardest and easiest part about trying to be a good person is exactly that: trying.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was stating the truth when she said beautiful people are made over time, so use your deeds to become one.