You don’t need to be better than anyone else.
You just need to be better than you used to be.
At the end of our days, we want to be able to look back and say, “I led a good life.” But what exactly is the measure of a good life?
I believe the quote above from Wayne Dyer points us in the right direction. To have lived a good life has nothing to do with comparing our possessions or our accomplishments with anyone else. It’s all about comparing where we started (as adults) and where we wound up.
Yes, we may stumble along the way, but we want to be able to honestly say we made slow but steady progress from point A to point Z. That means continually striving to be a better person than we were last decade, last year, last month, last week—even a better person than we were yesterday.
We all want to be the best possible version of our self. But how?
In The Road to Character, author David Brooks presented several examples of people who lived lives of moral strength and honor, many overcoming difficult challenges to become the best person they could possibly be. (I wrote a story about the common traits these people possessed titled “Do you have the 11 traits of a person with character?”)
In the book, Brooks also offered a series of life tips, standards to live by. I’ve taken what I think are the most important components of this list and added a few of my own. They may not change your life immediately, but I believe if you incorporate them into your life, they will put you on the right path. They can help you live a life of meaning and character.
7 ways to become the best version of yourself, starting today.
Nourish your soul daily. At least once each day, we need to break away from our work or home routine and take a little time to feed our soul. This may involve a walk out in nature, reading a spiritual text, taking a yoga class or spending 15 minutes in quiet contemplation.
Be grateful. Find something to be thankful for each day, even if it’s just to give thanks for the food in your refrigerator or the roof over your head or the fact you lived to see another day. I like to say a prayer of gratitude each morning, giving thanks first for my family and friends.
Be humble. In Brooks words, “Humility reminds you that you are not the center of the universe, but you serve a larger order.” This also means keeping your ego and pride in check. “Because of pride we try to prove we are better than those around us. It makes us more certain and close-minded than we should be.” Be willing to hear out others. Be open-minded.
Don’t be led astray. This may seem obvious, but avoid the big four sins of lust, fear, vanity and gluttony. This means: Stay away from temptation. Be brave when the situation calls for it. Don’t look down on others. Try not to overindulge in food or drink.
Trust in a force greater than yourself. The world can be a tough place and we need all the help we can get. Whether you believe in the God of the Bible, a greater life force or a set of moral principles, we all need someone or something to lean on. Brooks believes: “You have to draw on something outside yourself to deal with the forces inside yourself.”
Know how to quiet the inner self. In Brooks words, “Only by quieting the self can you be open to the external sources of strengths you will need. Only by muting the sound of your own ego can you see the world clearly.” That means engaging in a regular practice of meditation, contemplation or centering prayer.
Determine what life is asking of you. We spend much of life focused on what we want—but we also need to discover what the world wants from us. That means finding a need in the world, one you have the skills or passion to address, and serving it. This is a hard one, but a question you should ponder daily—the answer may take weeks or even years to arrive, but it eventually will.