The original title of this article was “How to Raise a Decent Human Being.” However, before publication, I concluded that this piece could very easily be titled any of the following:
How to Be a Decent Human Being
How to Be a Good Stranger
How to Be a Good Parent
How to Be a Good Child
How to Be the President — Ah! The winner!
Well, of course, because such a title would be more intriguing and reach more readers.
Hmm? Or would it?
What’s more important and what do people care more about: a how-to when it comes to being the Commander-In-Chief, or a how-to when it comes to being or raising a decent human being?
You see, any one of these titles surely would have sufficed because the fact is that the rules for raising a decent human being are the same rules for being a decent human, a stranger, a child, or even for being the President.
Okay, being the President requires many more qualifications, but being a damn good person at your core, well I’d say that’s a start.
There’s not much that I will share with you here that you probably don’t know already, don’t agree with, or isn’t common sense. But sadly, we all (myself included) falter pretty darn often and forget the basic daily rules that should guide all of humanity.
I don’t have to emphasize how fleeting life is. Losing my father, suddenly at his young age of 55, was something I could have never forecasted or considered in my realm of possibilities. For most of us, we have experienced some loss in our lives — be it a loved one, a home, a job, a passion, a physical capability — which has prompted us to be more considerate and aware of how fragile life is.
With your attention on what matters most, and whether your goal is to raise a decent human being (with presidency potential) or be one, all you have to do now is be sure to follow these ten rules:
- Lead with kindness and compassion. Wake up with a full heart, every morning, despite what may have been chipped away yesterday. In every interaction with others, either family members or the general public, just be kind. Did you hear me? Simply be nice. Don’t be rude. Don’t be cocky. Don’t be smug. Don’t be jealous. Don’t be hateful. Don’t be crude. Don’t be oppositional. All you have to do is not be anything that you would find unbecoming in another person. All you have to do is not be anything that isn’t synonymous with the word “good.” Easy as pie.
- Refrain from judgment; of other people, or situations where you don’t know all of the facts. Refrain from unfairly judging yourself, as well. Judgment is biased, and love is not. Love is just love, and you can’t love — yourself, others, or experiences — if you are judgmental.
- Help when you can. Just help; help those that ask for it and offer help to those that don’t. Help those that are silently crying out for it, as well as those that are screaming for it with their words or actions. Also, continue to offer help to those you believe won’t accept it, because one day, well, they just might. Help yourself, too. Help yourself by cutting yourself the slack you most definitely deserve, but also by encouraging yourself when motivation or confidence is lacking.
- Hope when you cannot help. Not physically able to help when it’s needed? Provide hope, either emotionally or spiritually. Offering hope with positive thinking and prayers (if that’s your thing) can do so much, for you and others, simultaneously.
- Give. Giving money if you can is excellent of course. Giving your time, well, that’s the most valuable gift that you can give others. Giving your expertise and knowledge to people or causes that could benefit — so significant. What else should you be offering? Respect, support, empathy, a listening ear, and eyes at attention.
- Share. Share your opinions, but not the belief that your opinion is the only one that matters. Share your stories, but only when the timing is appropriate and if they will make a positive impact. Share words only if you can do so respectfully. Share your anxieties and woes, but only if by sharing them you release your mind and body of any pain or stress they are causing you. Share your goals for yourself with yourself and others, and do so often; as they can serve as a motivator for all. Do not share any hate. Do not share any bit of hate. Not ever.
- Smile. Seriously, this is so flippin’ easy — just smile. It doesn’t matter the reasons you have not to be happy, find one thing you have going for you and stretch a damn grin on your face. When you smile, a genuine smile brought on by thinking of something positive (like heck, merely being alive), you will, in turn, earn a happy point on your scorecard. Even if it’s just one tally-mark, you are that much closer to complete happiness. Need another reason to smile? Your smile could change someone else’s day for the better.
- Laugh. Life is hard. Work is hard. Having money is hard. Having no money is hard. Parenting is hard, and so is marriage. Single life is hard too, as are relationships in general. Laughter is and will always be a universal language of joy. Be sure that your laughter is not rude or at another’s expense. Laugh with others, and help them laugh when they find it hard to do so.
- Learn. The most intelligent people in this world are those who don’t believe they are the smartest, best, or most talented. Don’t get me wrong, self-assurance and confidence are hallmark characteristics of many of the world’s greatest; but so are their capacity for self-improvement and desire for advancement inside of themselves. The smartest people in this world are those that hold steadfast to the belief that “if I listen, I can learn. If I watch, I can learn. If I talk and talk and talk and talk, there’s no time for me to learn”.
- Grow. Not your wallet and not your group of friends. Not your fans and not your notoriety. Grow your family if you want and if not, grow your passions. Concern yourself more with the growth of your village, rather than the growth of your home. Grow both inside and outside of your relationships, and let your connections foster the growth of anything new and positive you learn about yourself. Grow from conversations with your loved ones, but grow just as much from conversations with strangers. Grow your beliefs from discussions with like-minded people, but improve your perspective and understanding from dialogue with those that think differently than you. Never stop growing, but always grow with love.
You see, these aren’t far-fetched notions, nor are they hard to implement. The struggle comes in when we decide to be ungrateful for our time on this Earth when we curse the challenges we face rather than letting them catapult us to be better versions of ourselves.
The struggle comes in when we are tired and exhausted and feel defeated. The conflict comes in when we stop caring about the mark we are leaving; not the gigantic, over-arching mark, but the small day-to-day marks which are affecting much more than we think, and often initiating similar marks in a chain reaction.
There is nothing political about this article, but it can serve as your 10-step guide to becoming the kind of person I would want as my President and guess what? That’s the same kind of person I want to raise. It’s the same kind of person I hope my children become and remain. It’s the same type of person I hope any stranger I come across is, and it’s the same kind of person I want to be.
If you follow these 10 rules daily then you have my vote in the next election, because all it really takes to be President, in addition to intelligence, leadership skills, & experience, is a steady moral compass and all it takes to have that, well, is to be a decent human being, and how simple does that now seem.
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