How to quit worrying about whether you’re a good vs bad person

Elephant chasing water buffalo, Kenya - photo by E. Jurus

I’ve been preparing a workshop on living your bucket list for an upcoming group, and during my research I’ve run across a surprising amount of angst about being happy with yourself. Here are my thoughts based on personal experience:

1. Always take the high road – behave with grace under pressure, don’t sink to someone else’s level no matter what the provocation, do the right thing even though it might be difficult.

2. Accept responsibility for your own actions – you made the choices, regardless of whether your parents loved you or not as a child, whether you had a tough life…

3.Think about what you’re doing. If something upsets you, don’t have a knee-jerk reaction – walk away and simmer down first. If you react immediately, invariably you’ll regret your actions later.

4. Give everything your best shot. Putting your highest effort out is the way to avoid having regrets or doubts later.

5. Be considerate – whether you’re at work, driving, in a grocery store, even just living in your neighbourhood. More issues could be solved with simple consideration than just about anything else.

6. Allow people the benefit of the doubt. Everyone struggles with something in their lives, so Jack who’s miserable today may have an ill child, may have had an argument with his spouse, may be having financial difficulties, may be worrying about a mistake he made at work…

7. Live the Golden Rule: treat people as you would like to be treated yourself, i.e. with respect.

8. Smile – a genuine smile can overcome some of the toughest circumstances.

9. Treat people as if they are the best versions of themselves, and they will almost always live up to that.

10. Treat animals and nature as if they’re wonderful gifts, which is what they are.

11. Allow yourself to be human, i.e. to have the personality traits and quirks that we all have, but avoid both extremes: wallowing or arrogance.

12. Finally, understand that you won’t succeed all the time with the above tasks, and go back to number 11: realize that we’re all humans trying our best in an increasingly stressful world.

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