1. Saying something kind about people’s life decisions before making the knee-jerk snarky comment. When your friend tells you “[Insert-emotionally-unstable-friend-here] is getting married,” force yourself to say at least one nice thing, such as “It’s good that she’s found someone who makes her happy.”
2. Being at least a little understanding to people who are going through the turnstiles in the metro, and not letting out an exasperated sigh and even an “Oh my GOD” when someone messes up while swiping their card. (I just recently moved to New York, and your system is different here, and I am overcome with anxiety every time I go through it because I don’t want to make the well-dressed man behind me fly into a passive-aggressive snit.)
3. Sending thank you cards. SENDING THANK YOU CARDS. Sending thank you cards. SeNdInG tHaNk YoU cArDs!!!1
4. Texting someone if you’re too busy to take their call and being like “I’ll call you back” or “Tied up right now,” so they don’t wonder for the next four hours whether or not they should call you again because you might not have seen it.
5. Giving compliments on things that a) we mean sincerely, and b) aren’t just based on people’s appearance. The first step to feeling less hung up about the way we work is acknowledging one another on things like “you did a good job on that project” and less on “have you lost weight?”
6. Treating your server with gratitude and respect while eating out, and not acting like they are the Christ figure who has to take your punishment when there is a problem with your dish. Nine times out of ten, it is not their fault, and there is nothing they can do about it.
7. Offering help to lost-looking tourists, and not just giving them that derisive look of “Can’t hack it in the big city?? Then go back and die in Iowa, loser.”
8. Having compassion and empathy for people who are seriously hungover at work. It happens occasionally to the best of us, and there is no reason to add insult to injury by making commentary about their impaired state.
9. Disengaging on Facebook arguments, no matter how tempting it is to go back and put that sarcastic comment on your former high school acquaintance’s vaguely bigoted status.
10. Learning to laugh at the overall absurdity that is social media, instead of getting weirdly tied up in it and letting it make you upset. (The day I started just giggling and moving on at certain people’s insane posts, instead of steaming about it for the rest of the day, was the day my life improved 180 percent.)
11. Posting pictures of yourself when you look happy, and not when you look flawless.
12. Buying a blender and using it for more than two days before giving it up on it entirely. (I know that washing it is a total hassle, but you can hide so many healthy vegetables in a good smoothie!)
13. Speaking of dishes, doing them right when they hit the sink, instead of claiming that they’re “soaking” for the next several days.
14. Not going up to smokers and being like “YOU KNOW THIS IS GONNA KILL YOU NYAHAHAHAHA,” because it’s just an incredibly lame thing to do. I get it, and I admit that I’ve even done it myself once or twice, but come on. We’re all adults here.
15. Using our spaces online — Facebook, Twitter, private messages with friends — to promote the things that we do enjoy instead of denigrating the things we don’t. (After all, a hate click is still a click, and that is ten minutes you’ll never get back.)
16. Recognizing when things are going well, and forcing yourself to say something positive about the situation before you go right back to complaining.
17. Giving TV shows/movies/new music a chance at least once when a friend or SO wants to show it to you. Even if you don’t like it, it’s really important to them to share it with someone they care about it, and we should appreciate that as the sign of affection that it is.
18. Looking people in the eyes and listening to them when they are talking, instead of staring off into the distance and thinking about the time you were caught cheating on a test in sixth grade.
19. Covering for friends every now and again when they say something stupid, because we all know how it feels to be the person who has made the over-the-line joke or said something totally unfunny, and how much we’d love it if someone jumped in and saved us.
20. Giving people a french fry or a nugget when you bring fast food somewhere, because it is so uncool to just eat your BK Chicken Fingers in front of people and not even offer a half a stick.
21. Congratulating people when something good happens by giving them a call or a personal message, and not just a thoughtless “like” on a Facebook post.
22. Noticing when someone has been trying to say something in the group conversation for, like, five minutes, and be like “What were you going to say, [insert person here]?”
23. Giving friends hugs and telling them that you’re here to listen if they need to talk when you can tell that they’re having a tough time. (Make sure to specify that they don’t need to talk about it if they’re not ready to, because that can also be very uncomfortable). Let them know that someone is there for them, because you are, even if they don’t realize it right away.