Earlier in the month, I was pondering a goal – a resolution, if you will. Of course, my mind drifted to the usual things: weight loss, eating a healthier diet, being more present with my family and friends, reading, less screen time, and so on. Nothing really seemed to stick as a BIG goal – something that would challenge me emotionally and intellectually.
But, before the holiday season, I was tasked with reading the book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. My manager, at work, was concerned with my struggles to bond with my colleagues. I don’t think my personality was solely the problem, but I know that I can be abrasive and pigheaded. She recommended the book, and knowing it was my best interest to take this seriously, I took her up on the offer to order the book, read it, and develop an action plan to improve my relationships at work.
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but friends, this book has been life-changing. As I read each section, I was able to identify situations that I’ve handled poorly and formulated some thoughts on addressing similar situations with more grace and tact. The central tenet of the book is simple – everyone wants to feel a sense of importance, and everyone wants to be heard. I won’t go into details, but if you’re aiming to become a better human, this is a book worth reading.
As I made my way through each chapter, I also realized that I was conducting myself poorly with other humans in my life – my family, my spouse, and the online community I hold close to my heart. In the end, I had to admit a glaring and uncomfortable truth – I’m a mean girl. I’m a bully. I’m a bitch. Even typing those three statements was hard. Nobody wants to be any of these things, even with feminism reclaiming the word “bitch” to mean fierce and uncompromising like Queen B(eyonce).
The more I thought about it, the more the puzzle pieces started to fit together. For years, I’d lamented my inability to forge strong, meaningful friendships, and instead of engaging in any kind of self-reflection, I assumed everyone else was the problem. Of course, in some circumstances, our personalities didn’t mesh and the natural consequence was a severance of ties, but in a lot of cases, my crappy attitude, and inability to see anything from anyone else’s point of view, drove a lot of people away.
I mentioned earlier that I couldn’t quite put a handle on what my BIG goal had to be for 2019. While reading the aforementioned book, things clicked into place. I knew my goal. Oh, praise <insert deity of your choice here>. And, during a New Year’s Day call with my beloved Achievement Club, with whom I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship for close to five years, I stated this goal.
In 2019, I will ditch my inner Regina George. I will stop being a mean girl. I will embrace kindness and compassion and empathy, and I will work towards cultivating a life filled with positivity and love.
And, believe me, if you had given me this challenge two years ago, I would have told you to sod off and drink your Kool-Aid elsewhere, then shared some passive-aggressive meme on Facebook and patted myself on the back for being an unrelenting hag.
What changes do I need to make to become a better human being?
I knew I had to change the media I was absorbing, because friends, you become the media you absorb. I ditched a lot of the negativity, even if the pages’ core values aligned with my own (eg. pro-GMO and pro-science), because if our stories are being told with spite and venom, we’re no better than the pseudoscience we’re fighting. I started following accounts that inspired me to BE better – Erin Skye Kelly (naturally), Rachel and Dave Hollis, Jenna Kucher, The Bird’s Papaya, Cait Flanders, and more. I’m also reading more books about personal growth and success through kindness and empathy.
Each day, I make the conscious and deliberate effort to greet my colleagues with enthusiasm, to show genuine interest in their lives, their families, their cultural backgrounds, even if it means putting my own stories aside. And, THAT sucks. It means leaving a part of myself at the door and giving everyone else a platform I would love to claim for myself. My brain fights these changes, tells me to stop being a pushover, and it is an ongoing battle, where I’m saying, “Patience, grasshopper. Be the bigger person. It will all be worth it.” It’s fucking exhausting.
But, with each passing day, it becomes a little bit easier. Even when the smiles seem disingenuous and forced, moving those mouth muscles into an upward curve changes my entire outlook on a situation. It’s like lifting a weight off my shoulders and saying, “Not today, Satan.” With each passing day, my likelihood of getting hit by a bus à la Regina goes down.
The results have been astounding. I find myself with a renewed sense of self, a new purpose. I have more energy to pour into playtime with my son. I am more likely to drag my ass to the gym and lift some iron. I am more likely to make-out with my partner. It’s like all the ducks are slowly lining up in a row, and the horizon is sunny once more. It’s the most amazing feeling.
And, the Kool-Aid? Well, it’s fucking delicious.