25 Ways to Be Good for Someone Else (Be the Positivity You Want to Feel) by Lori Deschene “Don’t wait for

people to be friendly. Show them how.” ~Unknown When I was a teenager—right around the time I knew everything—my mother used to tell me I only remembered the bad things. When I told stories about my family, they didn’t revolve around family beach trips , barbecues, and vacations; the focused on my parents’ fights and all the ways the y “ruined my life.” The same applied to friends and milestones in my life. I chronically remembered and rehashed the worst experiences. In fact, straight through college I followed up every introductory handshake wit h a dramatic retelling of my life story, focusing on a laundry list of grievance s about people who had done me wrong. It was as if I was competing for most royally screwed over in life, like there w as some kind of prize for being the most tragic and victimized. (Full disclosure : I hoped that prize was compassion cum unconditional love. It was more like dis comfort and avoidance). Not everyone is as negative or needy as woe-is-me-younger Lori was, but I’ve notic ed that many of us have something in common with my misguided past self: we focu s on how we’ve been hurt far more than how we’ve been helped. Psychologists suggest that to some degree we complain because we’re looking to con nect with people who can relate to the universal struggles we all face (though i n some cases, complaining is a constructive way to find solutions to problems as opposed to a chronic need to vent negativity). I think there’s more to it, though . When we complain about everything that’s gone wrong, or everyone who has done us w rong, we’re drowning in our self-involvement. It’s an epidemic in an individualistic culture where self-reliance, autonomy and t he pursuit of personal gain can leave us feeling isolated and pressured to succe ed. This may not be true for everyone, but I know when I get caught up complaini ng, nine out of ten times what I need to do is stop obsessing about the circumst ances of my life. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve learned we don’t need to live life in a constant s tate of reaction to things that seem difficult or unfair. We don’t have to be the victims of bad coming at us. Our lives don’t have to be the sum of our problems—not if we take responsibility for putting good into the world. That starts by fostering a greater appreciation for our interdependence. We are not alone. The world is not against us, and we don’t have to be against each other . We don’t have to let our fears, insecurities and wants boil over inside us until we’re all a bunch of incompatible toxic chemicals waiting to explode the second w e collide. You can always find a negative story to tell—some situation when another person wa s insensitive, selfish, uncaring, unfair, or just plain wrong. You can also find an underlying struggle that doesn’t justify but might explain their behavior. If you absolutely can’t channel that compassion and patience, you can always find at least one good thing someone did in your day. When that stranger held the elevator open, when your coworker let you take the l ead in your meeting, when your mother called just to say she loves you; they’re al l reminders people are looking out for you—maybe not all of them, and maybe not al l the time, but probably more than you notice. An even better way to honor our interconnection: be someone else’s positive story. Be the kindness that reminds someone else the world is not against them. Give t hem an anchor of positivity to find later if their circumstances seem overwhelmi ng. If you’ve ever ended a stressful day with a long hug—the type that’s so needed and lov ing it’s near impossible not to relax and receive—you know the power of a simple ges ture. Need some ideas for simple kindnesses? I recommend checking out the Tiny Buddha Facebook page, where I recently asked friends, “What’s the kindest thing you can do for someone else?”

Some of my favorite suggestions (out of 158) include: 1. Try to accept people with an open mind and refrain from making judgments , which are often wrong anyway. (Brandon Hartford) 2. Let them know how much you appreciate them. (Florence Leedy) 3. Any deed done for someone else is a kind one when you don’t expect somethi ng in return. (Courtney Olsen) 4. Do little things like hold doors open or let folk go in or out first. Li ttle things can make a big difference for someone who’s not having a great day. (E lke Wallace) 5. Accept them for who they are and who they strive to be. (Dylan Clauson) 6. Let them know they’ve made you smile. (Monika Sylvestre) 7. Be with them when they need you. For the rest of the time, let them be f ree. (Rohin Khanna) 8. Tell them the truth. (Krista Hale) 9. Tell them why they make a difference in your life that no one else could possibly make—why their particular brand of “special” makes the world a better place for everyone they meet in it. (Jennifer Hudson Green) 10. Help them help themselves and be independent. (Frantz Art Glass) 11. Believe in them and give them hope. (Melessia Todd) 12. Give a simple well meaning smile. (Jennie McCluskey) 13. The kindest thing you can do for someone else is to take good care of yo ur own mind, body and soul. This enables kindness in all things. (Shyloh Robinso n) 14. Spend time listening with the intent of learning. I joined an art guild that is mostly made up of elderly artists who have the most amazing life stories and the best tips and trick for creating artwork. I feel like I get so much mor e in return for doing nothing more than enjoying their company! (Suzi Ra) 15. The best thing my parents ever taught me—the Golden Rule: do unto others a s you would have them do unto you! (Tracy Bruce Laughlin) 16. Be there for them when they fall and not say I told you so. (Ana Stuckar t) 17. Give them the space to be. (Natassia Callista Alicia) 18. Lend your shoulder to cry on. (Bryan Tankersley) 19. Thank them for being themselves. (Jen Ghrist) 20. Take a moment to send someone a note thanking them for something they ha ve done for you in the past. For example, a good teacher or a good manager, or s omeone who was a mentor or role model. (Dave Hughes) 21. Treat each person with respect for his or her individuality. (Shirley Wr ight) 22. Offer encouragement after a failure. Acceptance of even the weirdest thi ngs they possess. A tap for a job well done. A “thank you” to every simple yet lifechanging encounter. (Ako Ang Uso) 23. Forgive. (Ivan Kl) 24. Pay attention to them. From the clerk at the store to your kids at home, most people just want to be heard and acknowledged. Understanding comes later, but everyone can pay attention now. (Angela Birt) 25. Listen to someone without trying to fix their problem. (Jane Lynahan Kar klin)

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