We all grew up with it, right? Treat others as you would like to be treated. And you know what? That advice is just as sound in adulthood as it is in childhood, if not more so. But somehow it seems more difficult to be a kind, conscientious person all the time. As we age, life gets more complex and convoluted, but for that very reason, we should all strive to be kinder to those around us.
Though we can bet that pretty much everyone wants to do the right thing, wants to make others feel good all the time, it can be a bit tricky. Although conscientiousness is something that we tend to learn and develop during childhood, we can take steps as adults to be a little kinder and more thoughtful. All we have to do is put our minds to it and employ a few simple steps.
When we do that, we can make the world a better place.
1. Find your focus. Becoming generally more conscientious is quite a broad thing, so it’s important to refine exactly what you mean by that and identify what’s most important to you. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be more conscientious in absolutely everything you do. Choose one area to focus on, and eventually it will spill over into other areas of your life.
2. Get rid of roadblocks. Naturally, there are loads of things in life that get in the way of all kinds of goals, and becoming more conscientious is no different. Try and eliminate things that tend to set you off, whether that’s not having enough sleep or engaging regularly with people you know frustrate you.
3. Learn to simmer. It’s so human to be emotionally reactive. Our bubbling emotions often get in the way of being conscientious, so it’s important to learn how to recognise feelings, address them and then not indulge the reactivity. If you start to feel your emotions taking over, pause, take a breath and reflect on how you feel and how you want to handle the situation.
4. Make a plan. It may sound silly to plan to be kinder or more thoughtful, but thinking of ways you can make others feel good on a regular basis will eventually turn it to muscle memory. Then without even having to think about it, you will be kinder to others. Use a journal to write down 7 kind, thoughtful things you’ll do each week, then tick them off as the week goes along. Think of it as conscientiousness homework.
5. Accept that this is a process. If you ever find yourself slipping or not handling situations as you might hope to, don’t stress about it. Learning is, after all, a process and a lifelong one at that. Don’t beat yourself up (you must be kind to yourself too!) and try again. You can always improve!
6. Employ some positive reinforcement. In that age old carrot and stick scenario, we’re big fans of the carrot (particularly when it comes in the form of The Bedrock!). When you’ve made someone feel good or gone out of your way to be more thoughtful or less reactive, acknowledge that and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement is going to help ensure this new positive change will become a habit.