When it comes to being a better human, there’s no specific direction that people need to take. A lot of it is subjective too, making some of this type of advice rather flimsy. Generally, gurus will either provide various traits to pick up or point to a lot of popular individuals as examples.
But over the years of growing myself, I have found that those methods are not effective at all. This is on top of well-known people not always being the best examples of how to live your life or be the ideal person.
Elon Musk, anyone?
Rather, to be better, you need to be digging deeper, finding people that you have never known before, and offering really good advice. One such place I discovered was Chris Duffy’s podcast How to Be a Better Human. There are several episodes out already, but he’s highlighted some key things to be working towards that could make us better human beings.
Using This Triangle Method To Improve Relationships
Devised by George Blair-West, MD, he’s an Australian relationship expert and has been happily married for 34 years. His trick is to use this triangle method to improve the relationship significantly, and it works like this:
- Step one: Trust your partner to the point that when you share something vulnerable with them, they will respect your trust and not use that fact against you.
- Step two: You test that trust by sharing something with them that brings you anxiety if people know this about you.
- Step three: You continue to build intimacy between one another. Keep doing this until you realize that your partner still cares about you despite knowing what they know about you.
It’s a triangle, as the idea is to keep this cycle going over and over again. Feelings of unease are all natural parts of a relationship. The idea of this strategy is to encourage diving into these tougher discussions and feelings because often what creates conflict is when those conversations don’t happen.
At the same time, learning to deal with those emotions can also make us better people, as we have a better grasp of those emotions. When you have better control over your emotions, it’ll be healthier for you on an individual level as well as for any relationship.
Expanding Your Potential Beyond Work
A lot of us tie our sense of worth and purpose to the work that we do as we become adults. This idea has been ingrained in us from an early age with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Our personalities really reflect the kind of occupation that we want to be in, and we cling to that idea as we get older.
As great as that may be, there are a few issues with regard to that thinking. What happens when the industry rejects you? What happens if, mid-career, we’re unable to do what we love to do? What happens if you don’t have a clear answer to where you want to go?
All of these are difficult in their own way, but the idea of what defines you as being lost overnight is something we rarely think about. The idea can be a scary one to explore. But, as I and Duffy argue, it’s not as bleak as you might think.
Adapting to massive changes is both scary and exciting, as it often results in a huge shift in your thinking. I can attest to that, as I spent years studying to be an accountant only to end up writing about self-improvement. I know that in order to go from that point to writing, I needed a dramatic shift in my thinking.
I needed to be more open to new possibilities and challenge myself. I never would’ve been on this platform if I wasn’t committed to making changes.
There are other steps that we can take in this regard, but the biggest is being able to associate multiple things with what gives you purpose in your life. Stretch your worth beyond the work that you do, even though that work is also important.
We all have a natural aversion to conflict—some of us way more than others. And while that can make our lives trouble-free in the long term, it doesn’t really make our lives better. If we stuck to the straight and narrow path that’s set out before us, then our lives wouldn’t really be any better.
Sure, they could be better in some sense. Sticking to the rules and playing the corporate game can result in higher pay, which can lead to a more enriched life financially. But are you really happy to be living a life working in an office day in and day out?
Instead, what would be better is to deviate from that path intentionally. Not necessarily to seek out trouble at every corner, but to bend and twist the rules.
If we want to improve the world and tackle some of the bigger issues, new options and ideas need to be explored. And these new options and ideas could conflict with the current establishment.
Silicon Valley is partially right in that we do need to break things in order to be better. The thing is, what we’re building needs to be something stronger and different than the same broken shards glued back together.
What this looks like in practice is speaking to someone if they look lost or confused about something. Or if someone says something inappropriate, you speak with them afterwards rather than nod in agreement or say nothing at all.
Trouble isn’t necessarily destroying everything and never fixing it. Rather, it’s about being a pest and making those around us better people while improving our own confidence in speaking out.
Have Plenty Of Terrible Ideas
One thing about ideas these days is that you can get a lot of support for an idea if you make small and steady incremental changes. What often gets rejected are the more crazy and “terrible” ones.
For example, in the 1970s, you would get a lot of support from telephone companies if you wanted to boost the efficiency of the calls by 10 percent. You wouldn’t hear a complaint at all about the idea.
But what if you told them you wanted to make a phone that could allow you to call from anywhere and without any wires? You’d be laughed out of the building.
Looking back, though, we clearly know what was the more valuable idea between the two of these ideas.
What might be a terrible idea at the time might not be one in the future. I recall that my granddad was a tinkerer and came up with all kinds of ideas. At one point, he actually got the idea for a refrigerator part that is now a standard part of modern-day fridges.
He never patented the idea, unfortunately, but that’s the lesson here. Coming up with ideas you think are too ahead of their time and actually following through with them can result in some massive changes.
Proposing bizarre ideas and getting yourself to think outside of the cube can disrupt your usual thought process. What might be a nonsensical or terrible idea might not turn out so bad in the end.
Stop Talking So Much
Making conversation is an incredibly valuable skill. If you want to make the world a better place, take out your earbuds, look away from your phone, and start talking to people. It doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful every time. A mere hello or trying to find some common ground can work as well.
Talking with people makes the world more alive, and it also helps sharpen your skills in the process. The other thing about conversation skills is that there are many of them, and they all get used in their own way during conversations.
What Duffy found out is that there is a difference between talking and conversing. To have a great conversation, it’s not all about following specific tips and tricks on how to be “engaged” in the conversation. It’s learning about how you can be engaged in the conversation.
In many cases, it’s a matter of shutting up.
Think Like A Perfect Person
In many cases, perfectionism is an illusion that is more difficult to achieve than anything else. I don’t believe it’s healthy to work towards perfectionism in the traditional sense.
Until this point, I haven’t really thought about the good that perfectionism can bring, and I’d say this strategy would be one of the few I can get behind.
Duffy interviewed Michael Schur, a comedy writer behind Saturday Night Live, The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Place. In his spare time, though, Schur tends to focus on ethics on any level and how that can make a difference.
How that ties into perfectionism is more about engaging with everything that you come into contact with and building up a moral framework.
Is it okay to listen to music from someone who’s said or done terrible things?
Is it alright to bend the truth a little to steer people toward your way of thinking on a subject?
Is it cool to buy from a company that routinely exploits workers?
The list of questions is endless, but a lot of us don’t really engage with these questions. For some of us, we might throw our hands up in the air and say that’s how things work right now and not much can be done. Others will ignore it entirely.
But the thing about ethics isn’t so much about finding an answer. It is about developing your own morality. When it’s clear, you keep reinforcing it and stick to it. Being a better human means knowing what you stand for and being confident about what you have, even though you’re aware that it’s one of many answers to the various problems we face.
Having some framework, a general philosophy, keeps us grounded and forms an identity we can get behind. The more we identify that and continue to create it, the better we can become at doing what we think is right.
Being a better human being isn’t all about being able to display kindness to other people or be generous with your wealth. It can encompass those things, but there are so many qualities and systems that we can implement into our lives that can make us better.
All that we can keep doing is reminding ourselves we are a constant work in progress, and some of the improvements can be the most bizarre and unconventional things we never thought of before.
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