100 Ways To Improve Ourselves (and Inspire Others)

You are worth it - woman jumping for joy

by Timothy Baril

You are worth it - woman jumping for joy

Life is an adventure in which we never stop growing. Well, we shouldn’t, but unfortunately, a lot of people do stop growing, or at least slow down considerably.

Many of us get the wrong idea that the only time we really develop is in our school years, and the first short period of becoming ‘grown up’ in our early twenties. We spend almost the first two decades of life sheltered and forced to sit in front of chalkboards and TVs, taking in all sorts of information about the world and people, but getting little chance to see life itself in action. Once we hit some arbitrary age of majority, 18 or 21, we are finally rubber stamped with adult status and think the hard part is over. Enough hitting the books, it’s time to go put that stuff we learned into practice.

These are the fun years of early adulthood. The glory days when we’ll do things that we’ll turn into stories we tell over and over again until we’re old and gray. College/university, our first jobs, our first forays into identity and sexuality. We drink too much, dream big, break the rules and for the first time we really get to enjoy life on our terms. It’s a time when we make mistakes and not only forgive ourselves for them, but relish those blunders and laugh along with our friends over them.

What’s all this mess really about? Real Learning. It’s the experimentation and collection of real hands-on data that throws half of what we were spoon-fed in school out the window, verifies the other half, and provides us with knowledge that is actually useful. It’s the first time we shake hands with ‘reality’. And it’s a good period. For those of us who make the most of it, we really flesh out as people and start to gain our own strength and wisdom.

But after a few years, it’s time for ‘careers’ and ‘families’. Time to ‘get serious’. We settle into routines which quickly develop into dry ruts. We don’t try so many new things any more. We don’t challenge ourselves to see what we’re made of because we’re too busy being frightened of losing the jobs we so desperately need in order to maintain respect from our peers, for our status, for putting food on the table for our loved ones, for paying all the gigantic bills we’ve accumulated. Life becomes the ‘daily grind’. “Sorry, too busy with my head down getting the routine done. Don’t have time to think about what I’m doing or why.”

Learning slows down, even stops. We’re not creating the catalysts for real improvement because not enough changes in our lives. Sure, having a family presents challenges and spurs growth. But it’s not enough. We’re missing out on so many opportunities that could not only benefit ourselves, but which we could also reinvest in our marriage and children. There’s no limit to how strong and wise we can become, and no limit to how beneficial that is for everyone. But, sadly, because we don’t stop to think about what’s going on, we’re missing out.

For many people, the years are now going to start drifting by. And the older we get, the faster time flies. Where did those last five years go? How did I gain ten kilos? When did my kids start being old enough to date? Since when did hair start growing HERE? What do you mean I need to start wearing diapers again? I thought I was done with those forever!

We’re blindsided. Because we put ourselves on autopilot and stopped being in charge of how we’re living. The danger in doing that is that being on autopilot means we’re only going forward at the same level, the same speed, the same direction. We’re not growing. Without course corrections, we’re at the mercy of the winds and without realizing it, we may have plotted ourselves on course to crash and we won’t realize it until tragedy happens. Until the divorce hits. Until the heart attack. Until our kids have not only stopped loving us, but now won’t even speak to us.

Garfield - i need my coffee - grumpy cat in the morning

Until we realize there’s not a single delicious drop of coffee left in the whole house and now how the hell are we going to make our desperately needed morning caffeine in order to keep from becoming a total brain-dead zombie for the next four hours. What are we going to do now? What if we filter the empty packaging? Is chewing on yesterday’s grinds too desperate? If only we’d been more proactive, this murder-inducing coffee shortage never would have happened. “If I show up on the evening news tonight for whatever reason, it’s not my fault. The lack of coffee made me do it!”

Autopilot means we’re not working towards our potential. We’re not being the best example we can be to our peers and families. When people see us on autopilot, not getting around to reducing our cholesterol, not getting around to painting the house, not getting around to learning how to communicate emotionally with our spouse, then they learn to be the same way. Human-monkey see, human-monkey do. That’s how culture happens. Culture is defined as the decisions we all generally make in our group. And right now, a lot of us are encouraging a culture of living on autopilot, cruising along well below our potential, and missing out on all kinds of benefits. How long until we all have a collective heart attack? How long until we’re all pulling yesterday’s coffee out of the trash, giving it a cursory rinse in the sink and then running it through the coffee machine again, hoping the grounds haven’t absorbed the myriad of week old decomposing flavours from the garbage?

Look in the mirror. Wouldn’t it be great to feel less shitty sometimes? Wouldn’t it be nice like to look younger? To feel more energetic? To feel happier? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a better relationship with our spouse, our kids, our friends, our coworkers? Wouldn’t it be awesome if people looked at us with happy wonder in their eyes and said “You’re my hero (heroine).” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go through life feeling like a sex god/dess, be a bastion of wisdom for others to call on, and feel like an appreciated pillar of society?

superhero silhouette with cape

You can. We all can. Because who we are is a result of the decisions we make. Who we are can always be improved. It’s up to us. We have the power. Not the power of Grayskull, but the power of choice. No one else can force us to become anything. It doesn’t matter how boring or bad we’ve been in the past, the past doesn’t determine our future. The future is an open book and we’re the authors. We can write ourselves to become as great as we want. Our identity is a matter of our own choices.

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Self improvement isn’t as difficult as it might feel sometimes.

Step 1 – Want to improve.

Step 2 – Believe improvement is possible for ourself.

Step 3 – Take action. Learn about the choices we make, and learn if better choices are possible.

Step 4 – Make better decisions based on our research.

Step 5 – Celebrate, review and move on.

This is an ongoing process that never stops, and the more we invest into it, the greater the results. It’s the same thing we did become adults for the first time and it’s a process we should consciously focus on for a lifetime. The rewards are a better us, and a better society.

So, to help, here’s a list of 100 ways to improve. No need to tackle them all at once. Bookmark the list for future reference. Pick out the ones that seem easiest and the most practical to take care of first. As these become good habits, pick new things out of the list and try those too. Don’t forget to ‘sharpen the saw’ by going back periodically to check that we’re still making the improvements we tried earlier. That’s the course correction we need to stay on track even when life tries to push us off course.

For an excellent book to help us improve our life and see things in a better way, read [amazon text=Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of High Effective People&asin=B00GOZV3TM]. It’s brilliant.

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Self examination focus on me with magnifying glass

100 Ways To Improve Ourselves

(and Inspire Others)

      1. Get enough sleep. Sleep flushes toxins from our brain and dreams are the result of processing information into long term memory.
      2. Drink a lot of water. Hydration helps the body work more effectively. This also helps with maintaining a healthy weight.
      3. Eat vegetables. Lots and lots. We can eat as many as we want. But we have to get a variety for best results.
      4. Read. Everything we can. But seek out authors who produce wiser words. Reading is exercise for the brain.
      5. Do math. Numeracy helps prevent the brain from manipulation, which means all those ads we see do us less harm.
      6. Smile often. When the brain registers a smile on our face, it actually releases chemicals that improve our mood.
      7. Touch others. Shake hands, hug, put an arm around someone’s shoulder. Touch reinforces trust. Don’t be shy.
      8. Get active. Regularly. We may have to start out small if we’re in bad shape, but we should always be challenging ourselves. Regular exercise is the single best way to maintain good health. It reduces illness, prevents injury while allowing more activity, keeps us looking younger, makes us feel happier, reduces stress, increases sex drive and more. Physical activity is a foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
      9. Put the toilet seat down. They’ve done the math. If the number of men in a house is equal or less than the number of women, we should be putting it down for math reason alone. And because men should strive to be gentlemen, we should be putting it down all the time anyway.
      10. Wash our hands.
      11. Clean up after ourselves. Made a mess cooking? Clean up the kitchen. Dropped something on the ground? Clean it up. Shaved? Rinse out the sink.
      12. Stop being selfish. Selfish behaviour creates all of our social ills. That’s not to say that we should ignore our own needs, but everything we do should be done with the understanding that every little action we take affects everyone around us. Positive actions create a positive society.
      13. Believe in ourselves.
      14. Believe in others.
      15. Become fashionable. We can choose any look we like, we can change it daily, but putting effort into our appearance affects our self confidence, affects the way others treat us, and makes us attractive to our mates.
      16. Girls: learn to love skirts and heels. Guys: wear jackets and suits sometimes on regular days. Looking good is not just for weddings and funerals.
      17. Get our hair done by a professional, and learn to style it.
      18. Put enthusiasm into everything. There’s no award for being ‘too cool’ to get into something. Everyone’s a lot happier when they aren’t holding back.
      19. Say no to guns. It’s an instrument specifically designed to kill humans. They do not help humanity in any way, but they sure cause a lot of problems.
      20. Drink less alcohol. It’s full of sugar, it’s a poison and drinking too much is unhealthy.
      21. Never drink and drive. One drink is too many. Take a cab or call someone.
      22. Challenge a fear. Very few fears are innate, like being afraid of spiders and snakes. Almost all are learned. The only way to stop being afraid of anything is to challenge that fear. The rewards are incredible empowering.
      23. Learn a second language. While English is a great international language, being able to speak something else opens up new opportunities, allows us to enjoy all kinds of new people and art and entertainment. Whether we’re travelling or connecting with new people in our area, nothing puts a smile on someone’s face like hearing their own language.
      24. Live somewhere else. Preferably overseas. We have no idea how much of life we take for granted. Yet people elsewhere do the most mundane things in different ways. They think and act in ways that would probably baffle us at first. But living in an entirely different culture and system is the single most challenging and rewarding experience we can undertake. It allows us to understand ourselves and our society far better than anything we could do by staying home. So much growth is only possible when we live in another culture. A must-have experience.
      25. Love, actively. Love is a verb. That means action. Love the emotion is a result of love the action, which means the action must come first. Do the many things that show someone you love them and the emotions will come.
      26. Self control woman choosing between sweets and vegetablesLearn self control. All the things on the list become possible with self control. Learn when to hold back and when to let loose. Learn when to keep our mouth shut, and when to speak freely. We shouldn’t be giving in to every impulse, every emotion, every little pain or negative thought and letting those control us. And we certainly shouldn’t be constantly sharing them with the people around us. Maturity is measured in wisdom and self control.
      27. Try to understand others from their point of view. It’s no good putting ourself in their shoes, because they aren’t us. They’re the result of a completely different lifetime of learning. So they’re going to reach different conclusions about things, and use a different set of reasoning. That’s why we’re in conflict. To resolve the conflict, we need to understand how and why others feel the way they do.
      28. Don’t pee or poo in public.
      29. Stop defining ourself by a single political party. No one party has all the best answers, so we need to be open to and listening to others. Shutting someone out because their political affiliation has a different colour and logo is nonsense.
      30. Shower. With a friend.
      31. Sing. It doesn’t have to be well, but singing is a primal activity that helps us become more uninhibited and increases social skills.
      32. Dance. It doesn’t have to be well, but singing is a primal activity that helps us become more uninhibited and increases social skills. It also makes people more attractive.
      33. Cut down on sugar. Fat isn’t the enemy. Sugar is.
      34. Stop eating so much. No more eating when bored. We only need about 2000 calories a day. Just because the tummy is rumbling doesn’t mean we should be filling it. Use foods that digest more slowly, snack on nuts and vegetables, drink lots of water or tea, take smaller portions, and eat foods that correct insulin response like cinnamon.
      35. Stop being afraid of sex. Some people like it only a little, some people like it a lot. Let people engage in it as much as they’re comfortable with and stop being hostile about it. Sex is not ruining society. Shame is. 
      36. Learn to cook something from another country.
      37. Motivation and wisdom poster - right and wrongCompliment ourself for a good reason every day.
      38. Compliment someone else for a good reason every day.
      39. Stop slut-shaming. Erotica is ok. Porn is ok. Wearing a mini skirt is ok. Slut-shaming is negative competition. 
      40. Learn about evolution, including biology and psychology.
      41. Read [amazon text=Dan Gardner’s Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear&asin=B00395ZZ1W]. You’ll worry way less.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=0771032994]
      42. Celebrate Christmas but ignore the religious parts. A non-denominational Christmas is more inclusive. And we should use every excuse to spread goodwill to each other. Also, Christmas lights are pretty!
      43. Wear a costume. Could be Halloween, cosplay or a masked ball. Whatever you wear, put some thought and effort into it. Stop worrying about dignity unnecessarily.
      44. Read [amazon text=Stephen Covey’s The Third Alternative&asin=B004T4KX6E] and learn how every conflict can be resolved in a win-win way.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B004T4KX6E]
      45. Demand more from our education system. We’re raising robots when we should be raising whole people. We need more art, philosophy, communication, social skills and emotional intelligence.
      46. Tell someone we love them every day. Never take if for granted that someone knows we love them. They need to hear it.
      47. Find a reason to be proud of someone – and tell them we are. Every day. Never take if for granted that someone knows we’re proud of them. They need to hear it.
      48. Stop defining ourselves by what we like or don’t like and start defining ourselves by our values and actions.
      49. Spend more time with friends. TV is not our friend.
      50. Stop feeling bad because of what other people can do. If someone else can do something we can’t do right now, it enables us to understand what we’re capable of. If they can do it, we can probably learn to do it too. And if not the same thing, something else just as well.
      51. Stop bullying. Start befriending.
      52. Stop competing and start cooperating. There’s no need to compete for anything in life outside of sports. Cooperation always produces better results, especially long-term.
      53. Commit, and when you do, show up.
      54. Show up on time.
      55. Stop dragging others down with us. If we’re tired, go home to sleep or drink coffee. Being grumpy and negative is just ruining other people’s days. We don’t want make our friends and family unhappy, right?
      56. Self improvement quote posterKeep a journal or diary. Don’t just vent and use it as a place to say mean things about others. Write it like we expect others to read it, being both as open as possible for our sake and as honest as possible for everyone else’s. It’ll help prevent us from falling into the trap of viewing things selfishly. Self improvement happens so much faster when we’re going over the events as they happened and taking a second look at them once things have calmed down. Writing stuff down is therapeutic and can lead us to great insights about ourselves and others.
      57. Take the bus/train instead of driving.
      58. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if it’s more than two flights.
      59. Stop being afraid of being naked in front of others. Stop being afraid of other people being naked. We’re the only creature in the entire universe that hides behind clothing and feels shame about our bodies. That’s just silly.
      60. Say ‘thank you’ to everyone, for everything. Science proves that it makes everyone feel better, including us for saying it.
      61. Appreciate someone and tell them about it.
      62. Support a new artist every month. Whether it’s our kids, someone we found on DeviantArt or Facebook, or someone in the community. A few kind words regularly, purchasing a commission, writing a great review on their store all mean the world to artists and help promote positive culture and creativity.
      63. Champion a cause. It could be saving the rainforest or cleaning up a local park, but investing in the community is proven to both produce better communities and help us feel better because we’re engaged in meaningful work. Just make sure the cause is a good one, and we’re not fighting for the wrong things.
      64. Adopt a pet from a shelter and love it like crazy.
      65. Use a condom. Children are our greatest responsibility so we should only be having them when we’re ready. And no-one wants STDs.
      66. Go see the Mona Lisa, eat noodles on the Great Wall of China, visit Disneyland in California, and climb Kilamonjaro. It’s not the act of seeing each of these which is most important, it’s the journey you’ll most appreciate.
      67. Write a letter to someone and deliver it by hand.
      68. Do 100 squats without stopping.
      69. Combat smoking. Stop if you do it, encourage others to quit, and demand that lawmakers make the production and peddling of this poison illegal.
      70. Let yourself cry at a movie. Even if someone sees you.
      71. Learn about your partner’s sexual fantasies, then try them – with an open mind.
      72. Demand an open, honest government, and bring them to justice when they aren’t. The simplest way is to vote. Even better, run for office and do better.
      73. Stop being a soldier, encourage others to quit. If there were no soldiers, there’d be no wars.
      74. Get our shots. Yes, vaccinations are really, really important. This is not a debate, science has proven it soundly. Or did we really want to bring back the plague? (No. No, we don’t.)
      75. Self improvement quote posterDon’t put things off. Do what needs to be done now, do things the right way the first time. It saves time and produces better results.
      76. See more live performances. Dance, theatre, bands.
      77. Look it up. Between mobile devices and computers, there’s usually a internet access close at hand. Double check what someone said. Get more information. Get curious and then satisfy that curiosity with information. Wikipedia is our friend.
      78. Spend more time with our kids.
      79. Date. Spending time with others helps us prepare for future relationships. Date our partner even when married, because couples need a little romance on a regular basis.
      80. Buy flowers. Just to make someone happy.
      81. Host an event and invite everyone we know. Even if the only eventual attendee is our cat, at least by inviting them we showed everyone that we want to spend time with them, and therefore they’re important to us.
      82. Say yes to someone else’s suggestion. Don’t let saying No be a habit.
      83. Read [amazon text=The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained&asin=B00CIZYT8Y] or another introduction to philosophy. It’s tremendous how much people have thought about life and how to live it and shared it over the past 3000 years. That’s wisdom we can use, a foundation to faster success.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=0756668611]
      84. Trust someone. We have to take a leap of faith and give it, so someone has the chance to earn it.
      85. Never text or phone while driving, cycling, walking or are otherwise in motion. Other people are trusting us not to run into them.
      86. Get more houseplants. Don’t let them die.
      87. Self improvement quote posterTeach someone something.
      88. Eat more protein.
      89. Kiss someone, publicly.
      90. Get someone to open up to us and tell us how they feel, deep inside.
      91. Talk to someone about how we feel, deep inside.
      92. Read [amazon text=James Clavell’s Shogun&asin=B002UBRFDC]. All 1200 pages. It’s will teach you so much about life, love, adventure, learning, cultural exchange being a man or woman and more. All Clavell’s books are brilliant and incredibly instructive. [amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B002UBRFDC]
      93. Imagine doing our passion for a living as our job. Whether or not we quit our current job because it’s making us miserable is beyond the scope of this article. What matters here is that we simply think about it, which means that first we must figure out what our passion in life really is. If we could do absolutely any work or contribution to society, what would it be?
      94. Try something new sexually.
      95. Think about climate change. We all share this world and we all have a responsibility to be as informed as possible about what we’re doing and the consequences of our decisions and actions. We also must remember that the opinions of learned scientists studying data are far more valuable than smart-ass TV personalities.
      96. Hang out with our parents for more than an hour and not fight.
      97. Sit down with someone and tell them why they’re important in our life.
      98. Spend 5 minutes a day thinking about why we want to improve ourself and who we want to do it for. This reminds us where our motivation comes from.
      99. At least once a week, ask WHY something is the way it is. Search for information, and keep asking why, digging deeper and deeper into it until we really understand the root of what’s going on.
      100. Be proud of how far we’ve come, and proud that we’re going to keep growing.

Yes we can poster

You do this. I can do this. We can all do this. We don’t have to do it alone. It’s so much easier to do it together. Try it with a partner. Ask a friend. Join groups. Celebrate the journey!

Never give up. We’re worth it.

Timothy Baril logo

© Copyright Timothy Baril 2014

The 6 People I Believe In Movement

by Timothy Baril

High Self Esteem

High self esteem is our judgement of what we’re worth as human beings, and how we feel about ourselves.

 

Nathaniel Branden in 1969 defined self-esteem as “the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness.” According to Branden, self-esteem is the sum of self-confidence (a feeling of personal capacity) and self-respect (a feeling of personal worth). It exists as a consequence of the implicit judgment that every person has of their ability to face life’s challenges, to understand and solve problems, and their right to achieve happiness, and be given respect.[7] (Wikipedia)

 

In our evaluation of our worth, our capability, our self respect, our integrity, what we’re essentially asking is “Do I believe in myself?”. The answer, for many of us, is No.

THE PROBLEM

Believing in ourselves is very difficult. Especially when we do it alone.

 

Belief
Believing in ourselves can sometimes be a challenge.

 

We can do it. We can come to understand and practice key timeless and universal values which produce a life of integrity. We can take on challenges, overcome them, and see what we’re made of. Those bring amazing self confidence, and in the long term this is the foundation of high self esteem. But sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes, in the short term, things become difficult and we doubt ourselves.

At some point, even the strongest of us doubt ourselves. But the strong become successful because their long-term self esteem and the support of others are enough to encourage them to lift themselves out of despair, and remember to believe in themselves again. Their long term foundation is already in place.

But for many of us, our daily lives are spent feeling like we’re drowning in despair, lost in a pool of depression that we can’t climb out of because we don’t like ourselves. We don’t think we’re good enough for anything. We could never achieve anything or become better at anything in life. We look in the mirror and see bad people. This is because we haven’t had others believing in us and encouraging us. We don’t know what to believe in. We don’t live lives of integrity. We haven’t accumulated a string of successes we can look back at and say “Hey, look at all the goals I’ve reached. If I can do that, I can do more.” Instead, we look back at our life and see nothing but goals unattained and we say “I can’t do anything. I’m a loser.”

 

Depression
I’m nobody. Life sucks.

 

So we just drift along, and our negative self esteem seems justified in every piece of bad luck, every failure that we’ve actually helped make happen because we’re sabotaging our own lives. When we don’t believe in ourselves, we start focusing on the ways things can’t happen, on the dead ends, on bandaid solutions instead of the roots of problems, on the obstacles in our way and by doing so we actually put ourselves on the path to encounter all those things. We actually want to fail, and reinforce our negative self image. We’re actively choosing defeat. We give up on living.

But, if we believe in ourselves, know deep down that things really are possible for us, then we put ourselves on the right path. Will things still be difficult? Will challenges still arise? Absolutely. But our frame of mind will be completely different. This is when success becomes possible. This is when the journey becomes a happy one.

Imagine looking down a hallway and needing to get to the other end. But in the middle is a wall, blocking us. If we have low self esteem, our attitude is defeatist. “It’s a dead end. I give up.” If we believe in ourselves, we smile and immediately start looking for ways through. “Ok, there’s a wall. No problem, I can deal with that. Let’s see… go around it? Over it? Can I break through it?” And we enjoy the process of reaching the goal.

If we don’t believe in ourselves, we never find the solutions to our problems. Because we don’t even try. “What’s the point in trying? We’re just going to fail anyway.” But when we believe in ourselves, reaching our goals is simply finding the right way to get there. We know we’re getting there eventually, it’s a matter of learning how and getting it done. Unfortunately, waking up every morning and simply looking in the mirror and saying “From today, I believe in myself.” isn’t always going to be effective. Especially when we don’t already have a string of personal successes to remind ourselves what we’re capable of.

 

Unconditional faith
But what if we have help? What if there’s someone out there who loves us unconditionally?

 

Believing in ourselves becomes much easier when someone else also believes in us. Positive evaluation by others increases our self-esteem. We realize that they see something in us that we don’t. They give us social recognition and emotional support. And when that happens, we believe ourselves capable of success, and worthy of becoming happy. And as we become more positive, it becomes easier for us to believe in others. It’s an amazing cycle.

However, it’s all well and good that we know having people who believe in us will help us feel better about ourselves, but how do we make that happen? We feel alone. We probably couldn’t name, for certain, anyone who really and truly believed in us. Except for perhaps our parents, and not everyone has that. So we have a chicken and egg type problem. Which comes first? How can we start believing in ourselves if it feels like no-one believe in us?

THE SOLUTION

We have to focus on what we can control, and ignore what we can’t. We can’t control who supports us, who loves us, who believe in us. Those are other peoples’ choices. So let’s stop thinking about that right now. What can we control?

We control whom we believe in.

We choose the people we think are worth supporting. We choose the people we think deserve to be successful. We choose the people we think make the world a better place.

THE IDEA

Imagine this: if every single person on the planet started to believe in just one other person, the majority of people would have someone that believed in them, and we’d make a massive difference in everyone’s lives.

But consider the 6 degrees of separation theory.

 

6 Degrees of Separation
We are all connected. We’re closer than we think.

 

This is the theory that everyone is linked to every other person on Earth by just 6 different connections. Let’s harness that. Let’s each believe in 6 different people. Our parents, our siblings, our children, our friends, a teacher, a student, our doctor, a neighbour. Anyone. Let’s pick 6 different people and write, call or better yet walk right up to them and tell them that we believe in them. If we each do that, it means that every single human being will have someone who is actively believing in them. In fact, it will mean that several people will believe in each of us! Imagine how empowering that will be!

We choose 6 people specifically out of everyone we know, or even people we don’t know yet. Because they need it the most, or they have the most potential, or they have already touched us in a positive way. Because we see something in them worth encouraging. When we look at them, we know the world will be a little bit brighter when this person is happier and more successful. If they are able to smile a little more, and see the silver lining once in a while, they can make happiness and success happen for themselves. Because they’re awesome people, even if they don’t know it, even if they doubt themselves, even if life has been really hard for them lately. We see that. We see the real them. Out of the hundreds of people in our daily lives, we choose these six people to believe in the most.

And all of that holds equally true when someone comes up to us and tells us the same. When people come up to us and tell us that they support us – let’s believe them! Thank them. If need be, ask them why they believe in us. Feel strengthened because these people chose to believe in us with good reason, just like we picked 6 people we knew who deserved to be believed in.

Let’s call this movement:

 

The 6 People I Believe In

First, let’s think about everyone we know. Let’s pick a bunch that we think would be good candidates. If we can pick the right 6 right away, great. If not, let’s get out and talk to these people, find out what’s going on in their lives, how they’re feeling. Get to know them. Then choose the 6 most worthy and/or most in need.

 

My 6
Choose wisely.

 

Every single week, let’s contact these few people and remind them that we support them, that we believe in them because they’re good people. It could be as simple as “Hey, I love you.” or a three hour conversation over coffee. Because self esteem isn’t a constant, because it fluctuates with all the events in our lives, support needs to be regularly reinforced. We don’t just tell our kids once that we think they can do something and expect them to be bolstered forever. We keep telling them. We don’t tell someone at work that we believe in them and expect them to feel capable for the rest of their career. Careers have ups and downs just like marriages and families and every other part of life. We’ve got to keep telling people that we believe in them, and why.

Let’s blog about Our 6. Email them. Set reminders on our phones to call them every Sunday. Book regular meeting times with them, like dinner every week, a tennis game every month, a trip we always do together.

On a blog, which is read by the people we chose, and everyone around them: “I Believe in these 6 people, and here’s why.” Then update it and republish it once a month. Because it’s still relevant. And they still need to see what’s written there.

 

Contacting The 6 People I Believe In
Porn later. Right now, I need to believe in some great people.

 

On someone’s Facebook wall, for the world to see every Monday morning on the way to work: “I believe in you! You’re one of My 6. Because you are courageous and smart and you make everyone laugh.”

What if you’re a traditional man and you’re thinking of a fellow tough guy, manly man? Believing in someone is more important than an embarrassment of sharing feelings that probably only exists in our minds, and we need to get past the stereotypical unwillingness to communicate emotionally. They need to hear us: “I know this might sound silly or wimpy or whatever, and I don’t care if you want to make fun of me for saying this, but there’s this movement called The 6 People I believe In. It’s a really good thing, and I just wanted to write and tell you that you’re one of My 6. And here’s why.”

In a phone call: “Mom, I just wanted to call and tell you how much I love you. I know how things have been so hard for you. With the divorce, and us kids not being around much, and your job giving you so much grief. But I wanted you to know that, no matter how awful I’ve been in the past, or the differences we’ve had, I support you. I know that deep down you’re a really good person and you’ve tried your best to be a great mom. And if you want to be, you can become even better. You deserve to be happy. We all make mistakes and things don’t always go perfectly, but no matter what, no matter the pain or anger that we’ve gone through, or what I’ve said before, I believe in you. I really believe in you, mom. And I want the best for you.”

Or just a simple text to a friend on the way to work each Wednesday: “Hey. I believe in you.”

Let’s share The 6 People I Believe In idea with others. Make it viral. Reblog this article. Make internet memes and posters for walls. See something about the idea on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter? Let’s share it. Make a YouTube video. Write about it in the newspaper and on TV. Make a smartphone and tablet app. Let’s make it a habitual part of our lifestyle so that others see it and want to make it a part of their own. Make it part of the workplace and share it with coworkers. Is 6 not enough? What if our heart is just bursting with all the wonderful things we want to tell people? Then make it the 12 or 50 People I Believe In. But let’s just do it.

Let’s take this amazing idea and make it happen. Idea + Action = Results.

 

Just do it.
Just do it.

CHALLENGES

We must not expect anything in return. Remember, this is all about giving. It’s not about reciprocating. Many, perhaps all of the 6 we choose will choose other people. That’s fine. Maybe they happen to know 6 people who need to be believed in more than we do. We must accept this and make peace with it, because that’s perfectly natural. We must not resent. We must not put conditions on whether or not we’re going to believe in someone else. We just choose to believe in others.

And the people we choose or who choose us may change over time. That’s ok too. As our self esteem goes up, someone else may be in greater need of a boost. Let our supporter shift their attention, knowing that they’re still there, and that someone else will come along eventually and believe in us.

We can’t focus on how many people contact us and tell us they support us. We can’t feel arrogant because right now we’re overwhelmed with emails and calls from dozens of friends. Quantity of relationships is not nearly as important as quality, and this is never a contest with anyone else.  We’re not better than someone else because 6 people called to say they believe in us, but only two called them. Likewise, we can’t feel hopeless and alone because it feels like no-one is out there getting behind us.

We may find it easier to choose people to believe in when we find them less threatening. According to the Self Evaluation Maintenance Theory we’re prone to Reflection and Comparison with others. If someone else is defined by the same trait as we define ourselves, we tend to compare, and our mutual success can cause us to compare ourselves unfavourably to each other, lowering self esteem. For example, if we both define ourselves as soccer players, when one of us becomes more successful, the other feels bad. However, if one person is defined as a soccer player and the other as a musician, we find it much easier to support the defining trait of our friend because it’s non-threatening. So, when picking Our 6, it might be better to pick people we don’t feel in direct competition with, so we don’t end up in a Comparison relationship that undermines our unconditional support.

 

Team Players
We’re in this together. Team effort.

 

That said, Reflection is important. If we are defining ourselves in the same positive way, someone else’s success can make us feel like we’re sharing in that success and capable of it ourselves. For example, if two people define themselves first and foremost by their family relationship, success by one sibling is positively reflected by another. If two people define themselves as being part of a baseball team, success by one team member becomes our success too. Because our identity of being on the same team and with the same goals overrides any competitive aspect of sharing the same defining skills. So, when choosing Our 6, we should consider the type of relationship we have, and think about choosing some people we have a Reflective relationship with.

 

THE REWARD

The purpose of The 6 People I Believe In is simply to give. To focus on just that. That alone will accomplish wonders, and if there were no other result than the spark of hope we put into other people, that would be enough.

But the act of giving alone will also bring us self worth from within. We’ll believe in ourselves because we’ll be doing something worthwhile, something that improves peoples lives. We’ll have a core belief in something fundamentally good and effective and the act of believing in others will help sustain us even when we feel alone in the dark. No matter how bad things feel in our own lives, there will still be a light within us, a light from our giving, a light that we alone make and can have pride in. A light that’s as bright as we want it to be. A light that takes away the loneliness and darkness for others. For that we will be proud. We will raise our heads and smile and our own darkness will recede.

People with a healthy level of self-esteem:[29]

    • Firmly believe in certain values and principles, and are ready to defend them even when finding opposition, feeling secure enough to modify them in light of experience.[14]
    • Are able to act according to what they think to be the best choice, trusting their own judgment, and not feeling guilty when others don’t like their choice.[14]
    • Do not lose time worrying excessively about what happened in the past, nor about what could happen in the future. They learn from the past and plan for the future, but live in the present intensely.[14]
    • Fully trust in their capacity to solve problems, not hesitating after failures and difficulties. They ask others for help when they need it.[14]
    • Consider themselves equal in dignity to others, rather than inferior or superior, while accepting differences in certain talents, personal prestige or financial standing.[14]
    • Take for granted that they are an interesting and valuable person for others, at least for those with whom they have a friendship.[14]
    • Resist manipulation, collaborate with others only if it seems appropriate and convenient.[14]
    • Admit and accept different internal feelings and drives, either positive or negative, revealing those drives to others only when they choose.[14]
    • Are able to enjoy a great variety of activities.[14]
    • Are sensitive to feelings and needs of others; respect generally accepted social rules, and claim no right or desire to prosper at others’ expense.[14]
    • Can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others when challenges arise.[30]

 

High self esteem
Believing in each other + Believing in ourselves = High Self Esteem

 

What will happen when we start telling people that we believe in them? They’ll believe it too. And they’ll make better decisions, fight harder, love better, live with more integrity. People will feel that good things are possible and they will become more engaged. We’ll change politics, make economies more fair, stop killing each other. Yes, even accomplishments of that magnitude are possible when we wake up in the morning and believe in ourselves, and believe that we make a difference, not just in our own lives, but the lives of people around us, and in turn, the world.

It is in all of us to give. It is part of our nature as social animals. The act of believing in others is part of having others believe in us, and both help us to believe in ourselves. It starts with being as simple as believing we are capable of learning something, and then creating the opportunity for learning it. Or believing that we’re capable of being a good partner to someone, and then making that potential a reality. Or believing that our ideas matter and then having the confidence to share them.

When we believe that other people are capable of all this, and they believe that we are, the next thing you know everyone has hope. Everyone has strength. Everyone has courage. Such greatness we could accomplish if we had these simple things! With believe in each other, everything becomes possible.

So, I’ve got My 6 , and My 6 Friends with Dreams. Who are the six people you believe in? Who’s Your 6?

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Further Reading

Self Esteem – Wikipedia – READ THIS

There are a great many articles on Self Esteem, Believing in Ourselves and Believing in Others. Look around the web for more.

How to Believe in Yourself in the Face of Overwhelming Self-Doubt

Believe in Yourself: Why You Don’t (Yet) and What To Do About It

How to Believe in Yourself

Believe in Others

Wisdom and Quotes - Inspiration and Motivation-188

I’m a positive person who wants to believe the best in others. I like to help, to encourage people, and to make them feel good.

私は前向きな人間。他人の良い所を信じて、助けを惜しまない。他人を励まして、良い気持ちにさせる。

 

Wisdom and Quotes - Inspiration and Motivation-188

This poster was originally created for English as a Second Language (ESL) learning tool for students in Japan. The kanji characters included are Japanese. I’ve put them online so that others may share them as well. I hope this wisdom will be both inspiration and motivation for you, as well as teachers and students around the world. Enjoy and share!