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5 Tips To Be a Better You This Year


A new year is upon us and with that, a time to turn over a new leaf and make some tweaks to ensure this year is better than the last.

New Year’s Resolutions are great and all, but they are usually superficial (lose weight, quit smoking, stop procrastinating, etc.) and don’t lead to lasting changes since it’s all over the first time you slip up. Getting what you really want out of life requires internal changes that in turn, change the way things work out in your life.

To help you get more happiness and satisfaction out of your life, I’ve rounded up five essential tips to help you be at your best.

1. Gratitude
It may sound cheesy, but a little gratitude goes a long way when it comes to your overall wellbeing. Most of us are trained to look at what’s wrong in our lives, rather than what’s right. We yearn for a better job, a better relationship, better friends, a better body, we hone right on on what’s missing and overlook what’s right there in front of us.

It may sound simple, but learning to be more grateful is actually quite challenging. Don’t believe me? Try keeping a journal and writing down two things you’re grateful for every day. The catch is you can’t write the same things, everyday you have to think of new things to be grateful for. This may come easy to you at first, but after the first week the real work will begin and you will be forced to train your eye to pick up on the good. Doing this can be enormously transformative and soon enough you’ll find greater joy and satisfaction in everything.

2. Giving
When someone is feeling down, be it about their relationship or just depressed, I always tell them to go out and give. This could mean doing volunteer work or just trying to give something to someone (it doesn’t have to be material, it can be as small as giving someone a listening ear or giving advice). Giving takes you outside of yourself, outside of your own needs, forces you to look at what someone else needs.

This can be especially beneficial when it comes to your relationships. The trouble with most relationships is people are completely focused on what they can get from the other person, not what they can give. As a result, people are left feeling constantly frustrated with their partners. This also sets the stage for neediness because you will be focusing on a lack that your partner needs to fill.

A lot of women claim that they give their man everything, and this might be the case, but true giving is when you recognize what your partner needs. For instance, let’s say a guy is super into electronics and to him, electronics are everything. So for Christmas, he buys his girlfriend the most expensive, high-tech power drill on the market. He certainly gave her something that to him was significant and valuable, but to her, it’s utterly useless.

Most people engage in a selfish kind of giving- they give what they would want to get. To truly experience the joys of being a giver, you have to give what the other person wants to recieve. This isn’t only true of material things. You can also give when it comes to emotional support. Some people need tough love, some need a listening ear, some need to be understood. Try to tune in to what it is the people in your life truly need and try to provide it in the best way you can. You won’t only be a better friend/partner, you’ll be a better person overall.

3. Be genuinely happy for others
This one is much harder than it sounds. Your best friend gets engaged and you want to be happy, but all you’re really thinking is how badly you wish it were you. Your friend loses a ton of weight and you secretly hope she’ll put it all back on. It is so, so hard to be genuinely happy for people, even the people we love.

I think when someone gets something you want, there’s a sense that they’re taking it away from you, as ridiculous as that sounds. Just because you’re best friend found the perfect guy doesn’t mean you never will. Just because someone else landed a dream job doesn’t mean you’ll find a job you love. Someone else’s’ good fortune should serve to inspire you, not discourage you.

Going forward, try to be genuinely happy for other people and realize that you have everything you need to get what you want in life. Don’t despair over what others have because no one has it all. We all have a set of skills and circumstances unique to us and as a result, can’t compare ourselves to others.

4. Let go of past pain
A new year is a time for a fresh start and this entails letting go of the ghosts of your past. Be it a guy who broke your heart, a parent who never made you feel good enough, a friend who betrayed you, try to let go of the pain they caused and forgive them for it. This doesn’t mean you need to keep that toxic person in your life, just try to forgive them and move on.

A good way to do this is to visualize yourself back in that difficult situation. Try to imagine the scene exactly as it happened. Only this time, react with calmness and clarity and tell the other person you forgive them and wish them all the best. Try as hard as you can to send some positive energy their way as well. I did this exercise to release the pain I was carrying over a guy who cheated on me and believe me, it wasn’t easy. However, when I was able to push past the hurt and anger, I actually did manage to get to a place to understanding and inner peace and I was able to successfully forgive him for what he did.

You may think that the person who hurt you doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, fair enough. However, by holding onto the anger, you’re only hurting yourself, so being mad at this person really isn’t the best revenge, being over it is.

5. Be nicer to yourself
Most of us are our own worst critics and cut way more slack for the people around us than we do to ourselves.

If you have a constant stream of criticism playing in your own mind, you will train yourself to pick up on criticism from the outside, even where it doesn’t exist. Start by being nicer to yourself, be more accepting, don’t get so down on yourself if you do something wrong or make a mistake.

If one of your friends is trying to lose weight and you see her eating ice cream, would you blow up and say “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you have any self-control? You’re gonna be fat forever!” Probably not, so why do you talk to yourself this way?

Instead,  you would tell her that it’s OKAY to slip-up, she’s doing great and she should be proud of herself and she can easily get back on track. You would be nice, kind, and encouraging to your friend, so why not try and be the same way to yourself?

When you learn to be nicer to yourself, outside criticism will have no power over you. People only react to criticism when they believe it to be true. When you stop feeding yourself this negativity, you’ll have a lot more clarity and will be less vulnerable to the opinions of others.

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How do you plan to be the best YOU this year? Tell us in comments!

- SABRINA ALEXIS

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Kathleen

P.S. I need to work through #4 and #5 this year before the furrowed brow and dour expression become permanent indentations. But I am grateful for so many things, will continue to give and I am happy for others, even those who disappeared with the passing clouds and threat of rain. I brought an umbrella. Bitterness is a tough pill to swallow. Practice smiling and don’t even consider feeling stupid- remember when it came naturally, and you didn’t care about the umbrella but would just stand joyfully in the rain. Thanks, Sabrina. I really like your emails and website- you and Eric both have decent insight and are not charlatans. Refreshing! And Happy 2013.

Reply January 9, 2013, 7:59 pm

Mklein

Um, for #2, I hope you also tell people who are “depressed” to go and talk to someone, ie a therapist. Because depression is an actual psychological issue involving brain chemistry, not someone just “feeling down.” And your idea that just “giving” will cure it is really problematic because it feeds into the stereotype that people with depression are just being self-indulgent, and that they could snap out of it if they just tried harder (or in this case, if they just “gave” more).
It’s great that this is what makes you (personal you) feel better, and I’m sure it does generally help make you (general you) a better person. But please don’t assume that your advice works in situations that are patently different from/more severe than yours.

Reply January 6, 2013, 4:22 pm

Kathleen

I am overcoming situational depression and am still “feeling down” after a nasty divorce, a still uncooperative -ex and the loss of house and all former “friends.” However, in my unemployed and alone and divorced state, I must say that “giving” has done more for me than any psychotropic or anti-depressant drug could ever. As a matter of fact, I ditched those long ago and started off with small acts of “giving”- offers to help the elderly in public, rescuing orphan animals, taking in a basically homeless woman when I could barely feed myself or the kids, cooking meals and offering time to friends when I needed these things. While I have found empathy towards depression to be on the scarce side, I’m not sure the general public considers it self-indulgent unless they are self-absorbed, uneducated or simply can’t be bothered. I personally could care less what this faction of the population thinks, as this is all new to me and I have discovered who my true allies and friends are. However, “giving” in any capacity- of yourself, your time, your unnecessary belongings, your effort- can only benefit and behoove the average person. We are an inherently selfish society and while depression is not self-indulgent but indeed chemical, whether clinical or situational, the act of “giving” and “charity” does bring some perspective. As for being a “cure-all”- doubtful- but I think this is very sound advice for any person, despite circumstances of chemical imbalances, mental afflictions, addictions, tragedies, loss, conflicts, wars, what-have-you. I would disagree with your contention that this advice does not work. It can only benefit one’s spirit, if not physically or mentally then certainly emotionally, spiritually and karmically. Sometimes doing is a medicine unto itself.

Reply January 9, 2013, 7:48 pm

Jamie Herzlinger

Thank you so much for these tips! I will do it!!!

Love, Jamie Herzlinger

Reply January 2, 2013, 4:53 pm

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