Here are three things you can do now to improve the quality of your own life by consciously improving how you interact with other people.
Set a positive example for others. Maybe you do this without even thinking about it, but what if you were to consciously make the decision to set a positive example? A lot of parenting advice revolves around setting an example for your children and being a model for how you want them to be as they grow up. But do we follow this advice in our everyday interactions with others? It’s been proven that kindness rubs off. Even a smile can brighten the day for someone who is hurting, wrestling with deep issues or problems, or just absorbed in their own “stuff”.
While you may already treat other people with kindness, do you do the same for yourself? It’s important that you treat yourself with kindness. Accept and love yourself for who you are. Your view of the world and your place in it will shift significantly if you realize that in the current moment you are doing the best you know how. Don’t beat yourself up about yesterday or the future. Tell yourself, “in this moment I am doing okay, I am handling this.” You may find it hard to accept yourself and love yourself if you are dwelling on the mistakes you’ve made, the situation you find yourself in, when the past looks unforgivable and the future looks bleak. Count your blessings. What do you have in your life right now that blesses you? What are you capable of, what are you good at, what blesses you? Focus on that.
Act with compassion, always. Shift your mental focus to the other person. Act out of pure love. This is not easy if you are used to thinking about yourself and how something or someone affects you, but if you practice it every time you are interacting with someone, it will start to come naturally. Think, “how is this person feeling? How is this person reacting to the situation? What can I do or say to help them through it or feel better about themselves?” Then act accordingly. Not everything that happens in this life or everything said to you is meant to hurt you. Sometimes the other person is the one hurting and just needs to be heard.
To become more mindful of yourself and your impact on others, to affect other people in a positive way that shows understanding in a world where you would also like to be heard and understood, step back for a moment and practice these three concepts. At first people may not be able or willing to see the change in you. They may not trust the “new” you or think it’s just a phase. But if you are consistent and willful in your desire to change how you interact with other people, you will see a shift in how they interact with you and, like a chain reaction, how they treat the other people in their lives.
by Miller Williams
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
From The Ways We Touch: Poems. Copyright 1997 by Miller Williams.
Used with permission of the University of Illinois Press.