We won't solve all your problems by reading a list on the Internet, but it might help anyway.
As I sit here to write this, the first article produced in my new apartment, I look around and reflect on the previous few months of life. Much has changed. Things are crazier, hectic, and in some ways, uprooted.
I look around at this beautiful place I've become fortunate enough to live in. The music in my headphones is mildly sentimental, and tonight we celebrate a special occasion.
It's all a bit surreal, actually. For seemingly the first time in months, there is, but for a brief moment, calmness. Nowhere to rush to quite yet, no clients to call, no errands to run. Just some time to sit and wonder.
To sit and wonder how I've handled all of the transitions that have happened in my life recently. Have I been the best son? Brother? Boyfriend? Have I let the stress get to me even when I pride myself on handling things calmly?
While I've exceeded personal and professional performance goals as of late, I feel that some time is still well-spent on making sure I remain the person who I've worked so hard to become.
For that reason, I write this reminder — both to myself and all of you — of the seven rules I feel every good person should live by. If we remember to implement these into our daily lives, I believe they will always guide us down the right path to happiness and contentment.
1. Help those you can, whenever you can.
I find myself observing people often these days. Not just observing, but absorbing — absorbing what they're feeling in the moment; the challenges they're facing; the simplicity of sitting down alone at lunch; the struggle of scaling the third flight of stairs as they likely wonder if they should work out more often. The challenges we all face, simply by being human.
I had a routine doctor's appointment and as I was leaving, getting on to the elevator, the door opened and I found myself making immediate eye contact with a woman being pushed in a wheelchair. She glanced at me for a brief moment before looking into the distance as she continued to her appointment.
But in that moment, I felt her sadness. I felt it in a way that will stay with me for a long time, and I'm reminded that all any of us want is to live a happy, healthy life. The realities of the world are often harsh, and sometimes we all need a helping hand.
The next time someone bumps into you, accidentally says the wrong thing, or needs help lifting something heavy into their car, don't lose sight of the realization that how you react in that moment towards them could be the best or worst part of their day.
2. Stay true to your commitments.
While I mostly talk about relationships, commitments come in all shapes and sizes. Loyalty is a seemingly rare commodity in today's society. People are so busy and connected to so many different things at once, that it's easy to lose track of things you've said or promises you've made.
For this reason, perhaps one of the most impactful things we can do for another person, is to do what we told them we were going to do, regardless of whether or not we're in the same mood we were in when we said it. This is referred to as integrity.
3. Remain courteous at all times.
Have you ever stopped your car to let someone cross the street or switch into your lane? Now, have you ever done that and received no gratitude in return? No smile, no nod, no simple hand wave to acknowledge your courtesy? Even though this seems like such a small task, the effect it has on others is much larger.
Courtesy isn't something that requires much effort, which is perhaps one of the reasons why it's surprising that it seems so rare these days. But if we all put in a concerted effort to just be a little kinder to each other, we could make a legitimate difference in countless peoples' lives.
4. Be honest and genuine with everyone.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that no matter who you're dealing with or what kind of situation you're in, you're speaking to a human being. A human being with a family, challenges, struggles, and obligations — just like you have. A human being who probably felt a little stiff getting out of bed this morning. A human being who feels joy and pain.
These things are often difficult to remember when we see someone dashing through lanes of traffic or cutting ahead in line at the grocery store. While it may be argued that not everyone "deserves" your genuine kindness, we must remember that we shouldn't be kind to others because of who they are, but instead because of who we are.
5. Care less about who's right, and more about what's right.
Two people can do the same thing in completely different ways and both feel the way they do things is correct, because it's just what they're used to. If these two people come together and need to do the same thing, it's natural that there will be some conflict or argument about how it should be done.
Things like this are the root of many arguments in relationships, but this is why we need to keep fairness in our minds. What makes the most sense? What's fair to everyone involved? What will accomplish the goal in a way that makes everyone comfortable?
It goes beyond compromise; it's about genuinely striving to understand how the other person feels, and factor that into your decision making.
6. Do your best to avoid drama.
To live a life free of conflict is nearly impossible, but I often find myself seeing the same people on social media who never seem to stop complaining about the same things, over and over again.
Eventually, when someone constantly finds themselves in the middle of turmoil, one must ask themselves what (or who) the common denominator is. Sometimes, conflict is caused by another person in your life who's difficult to walk away from. Sometimes it may seem out of our control.
While it isn't easy, it isn't a coincidence that some people can never seem to escape the cycle. It's all about the decisions we make along the way.
7. Show your appreciation to others.
It's far too easy to lose track of the things others do for us, even when they're small. We may appreciate these acts of service in our minds, but if the giver doesn't feel your appreciation towards them, then it's the same as it not existing in the first place.
Whether it be in our personal or professional lives, one of the most important things we can do for our fellow humans is to let them know how much we appreciate what they do. A small "thank you" goes a long way when it's such a rare combination of words to be heard in today's fast-paced, increasingly selfish society.
None of us are perfect. We succumb to pressure, we may be over-stressed, over-tired, or over-worked and snap at someone we love. We can't be expected to handle every single thing all of the time without batting an eye.
But what we can do is make sure we give ourselves the time every now and then to keep ourselves in check. To make sure we're still improving and developing. To make sure that our relationships don't flounder as we navigate our path down the road of life.
We must make sure that we don't get so caught up in making a living that we forget to create a life.
We won't solve all of our problems by reading (or writing) a list on the internet. We can't make the world perfect, and we can't change everything on our own. But each of us has the ability to make at least one person's day better if we implement these beliefs into our lives.
And if every single person who reads this makes one person's life better, just imagine how far that can spread. Hey, it's a start.
James Michael Sama is an award-winning Boston based blogger on the topics of dating and relationships, having amassed over 30 million readers in just a year and a half. He writes and speaks on the topics of chivalry, romance, and happiness throughout the country and has been featured repeatedly in news segments, talk shows, and mainstream radio.
This article was originally published at jamesmsama.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.