1. Smile to strangers.
First of all, it makes you appear more confident. And as if this wasn’t reason enough, it also makes you appear more approachable (this is especially true at parties). There was a study that showed that people will perceive you to be smarter if your normal facial expression is a smile, as opposed to a grin. When you smile to strangers, not only are you being friendly, but you’ll be respected for it too.
2. Learn the names of the people you see every day.
And I don’t mean the people that are your superiors. Learn the name of the cashier of your local corner shop, the security guard outside your office, the janitors in your school, etc. These people are often thrown into the background and we underestimate the value of the work they do. By asking for their name and remembering it, you’re making them feel more as individuals and less as nameless faces.
3. Understand perspectives.
We all interpret things in different ways and this can create a lot of confusion. When you have a disagreement with someone, pause for a second and try to think about their background and other things that might be going on in their life. Most of the time, when someone says something critical or offensive to you, it’s only because you reminded them of an aspect of themselves that they don’t like.
4. Criticize actions, not people.
This also applies to situations in which you’re having a disagreement with someone. Never tell anyone that they’re slow and inefficient — tell them that they’re not working very efficiently today. When you call someone a name, the disagreement becomes very personal and the chances of reaching a compromise diminish. People aren’t necessarily stupid just because they did or said something you consider stupid.
5. Everyone can make it in life if they try.
You can talk to me about social inequality, racism, sexism, etc. all you want but I’ll still be 100% confident about this. We’ve reached a point in history in which there are millions of opportunities out there and anyone who works hard can make something out of themselves. Sometimes our circumstances force us to walk unorthodox paths, but we can still get to our destination in the end.
6. Always praise hard work.
We all know how frustrating it is to make an effort and not see any results. It’s very easy to notice when someone is making a bigger effort than usual and we should always encourage this. Don’t lie, though. Maybe that skinny teenage boy still hasn’t grown his biceps, but a simple “Hey, I think it’s great that you’re working so hard on this” might motivate him to keep trying.
7. If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.
This one is incredibly cliché but, at the same time, incredibly true. This doesn’t mean that we should go around giving people fake compliments or, even worse, quietly stare at them while giving them a condescending look. There is no need to undermine anyone’s confidence. Cutting a birds’ wings won’t make you fly.
8. Learn to see the funny side of things.
Life is actually hilarious. If you look carefully, you’ll probably find a joke in everything that is happening around you. Sarcasm as a form of humor is just plain unnecessary — the world is funny enough as it is. And it’s not only the funny side you have to look at, but also the positive side. There is nothing in the world that I hate more than a cynic who feels the need to rain on everyone’s parade.
9. Let others enjoy the spotlight.
You’re an amazing person and you have many talens and I’m sure you’ll be praised for them on more than one occasion. However, sometimes it’s someone else’s turn. When someone else is recieveing a lot of positive attention, it’s easy to start comparing our achievements to theirs. Don’t.
10. Everyone is good at something even if they don’t know it yet.
I think we’ve all gone through a stage where we didn’t have any hobbies or special interests and we hated looking around and seeing all of our friends shining in their own. I honestly believe that everyone is good at something simply because there’s so many things that one can be good at. If you still haven’t found your passion, keep looking. If you already have, still keep looking.
11. Fresh air heals a lot of pains.
Being overwhelmed can seriously affect your ability to go through your day. Sitting on your desk looking at a screen and hearing only the noise of the AC isn’t going to help. It always helps to pause for five minutes and go outside for a breath of fresh air. We are a generation that has been deprived of nature in many ways, but our lungs still crave the fresh air.
12. Why walk alone if you can walk with a friend?
If you’re feeling sad or lonely, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up the phone and ask a friend to meet up. Who knows, maybe they were wishing someone would call them, too. Or, if you make plans with them for the weekend, you’ll now have something to look forward to and get you through the week.
13. Dive into everything you have to do; you might find a new passion.
For me, this was my high school Biology class. No matter how much I moaned, I was still required to take the class for two years. At the start of the second year, I realized I would have to do it whether I liked it or not so I might as well make an effort to like it. I was always the social studies type and eventually I started getting really into the ethics components of the Biology course. And, to this day, I still enjoy reading about medical ethics in my spare time.
14. Try everything at least once.
This links perfectly with many of the other items in this list. Never say no to anything unless you’re 100% sure that trying it will make your life worse. You’ll only stop complaining about your hometown when you leave to the big city and realize how it was such a special place. The same applies for languages — when you learn a second language, you also learn a lot about your first language. Ask any bilingual person.
15. Blood is thicker than water, but best friends are family.
Let’s talk on business terms — your parents have invested so much time and money in you that it is absolutely ludicrous for you to claim they don’t care about you. They might have unreasonable expectations and unbearable tempers, but they care. They will always care, no matter what.
16. It’s not your job to fix people; just be there for them.
We’ve all made the mistake of thinking we can help someone sort out his or her life. We might be able to provide advice or help with minor problems, but most times, the greatest hurdles in other people’s races are being put there by their own minds. People only change when they decide they want to change. You can convince someone that he or she needs to change, but you can’t make someone want to. To need and to want are different things.
17. No one chooses where they come from.
Not everyone was created equal and not everyone is equal. Your background and the education you received during the first years of your life did contribute a lot to making you the person you are now. However, you didn’t decide where you were born and under which conditions. The only choice we are given is our destination and what route we want to sail with the boat that’s been given to us.
18. When you’re sad, touch your heart and remember that it’s still beating.
Think of the intricate and complex systems of arteries, veins and capilliaries under your skin. Think of the red blood cells and the white blood cells and the platelets and the plasma and everything else in your blood. They also serve a purpose within your body in the same way that you serve a purpose in the body of humanity.
19. Sweat is only pain leaving the body.
Whenever you’re angry, an aggressive workout or a power run might be just what you need. When you start sweating, imagine your sweat is liquid pain that is being released out of your body and will dissolve into the air, only to be absorbed by someone else. I have a strange belief that there is a limited amount of pain in the world and that it just goes around in a cycle — just like carbon or nitrogen.
20. The best gift is a book.
A book is always the best option when you can’t think of a gift for someone. They come in so many different shapes and sizes that you should never struggle to find one that covers an interest of the lucky person you’re buying a gift for. If you know they have busy lives or they don’t like to read, get them a coffee table book. Architecture is always a pretty safe bet.
21. You are in the world with a mission.
I don’t believe in destiny but I do believe that a life without purpose is a life wasted. We should all strive to find a niche in which we can make a difference. However, we have to be clear and focused when it comes to our mission. I never understood the logic behind American teenagers paying thousands of dollars to go on voluntary service trips to Africa. It always made me wonder — have they ever been to the inner cities in their own country? Sometimes we can make a bigger difference when we go local.
22. The meanest people are the most insecure.
When people point out someone else’s weaknesses, in most cases they’re only doing this to divert attention from their own. My grandma had a quote in Spanish that has always stayed with me: “dejad que los perros ladren, señal de que vamos cabalgando” which roughly translates to “let the dogs bark, it’s nothing but a sign that we are riding past them.”
23. Ask lots of questions.
The key is in asking open-ended questions. Whenever you want to find out more about someone, learn to identify which prompts you can use to get them talking about the subject. Sometimes people won’t give you their honest opinion if you ask for it directly, but there are ways around this if you know how to word your questions properly.
24. Anger is temporary but words are permanent; think before you speak.
Another quote in Spanish, but this time from my mother: “te gustaria soñar con las palabras que estas por decir?” which means “would you like to dream about the words you’re about to say?” In short, it means that whenever you’re angry at someone, you should always sleep it off before saying something you’ll regret the next morning, once you’ve realized that despite what they’ve done to you, the sun still rose and the birds still sang.
25. Let people see you’ve changed — don’t point it out.
If you have to mention that you’re working on improving your attitude or personality, then people probably aren’t noticing, and if they aren’t noticing, it’s probably because little has actually changed. Let your actions speak for themselves. You don’t need to boast about your victories, but you also don’t have to justify your failures to anyone.
26. A bad day does not mean a bad life.
I know that I’ve already stuffed enough clichés into this article, but this one is important. A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. And even if you have 90 bad days in a row, that just means that you’ve had 3 bad months — still not a bad life. Assuming you live to the age of 70, the sun will rise and set more than 25,000 times during the course of your life. Eventually, you’ll end up having a good day.