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Learn how to be a better person in 10 steps

If you want to be someone who people look up to and respect, then I develop these 10 habits that will make you a better person.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

No one is perfect.

We’re all just works in progress, trying to make it to the next day a little better than how we left the day before.

We all want to live our best life, but most of us are content with a better life today than the one we had yesterday–even if that improvement is by an infinitesimally small amount. All any of us is trying to do is become the best version of ourselves possible.

Although this journey of self-improvement and personal development is unique to every individual, there are milestones we all have to go through to develop and grow.

I’m warning you: I’m not a life coach.

I’m just a guy who has documented his personal growth and learned from the development of other people. I would like to think that my life is a great example of what’s possible when you set goals, commit to them, and do your best to change your life and become a better person.

Read on to learn how to be a better person.

Self-improvement, self-awareness, self-development: What it takes to be a better person

You don’t become a better person because you want to look good. You don’t improve yourself just so you can be a role model on social media.

You become a better person because you’re tired of the face you see when you look in the mirror. You change your life because you hate that you’ve become too weak and timid to venture out of your comfort zone.

No one can do the work for you.

There’s a reason it’s called self-improvement, personal development, and personal growth.

Most people won’t even tell you that you need to fix yourself. They’ll just watch you circle the drain and try to stay out of the way of the train wreck that you call “life”.

I remember when my drinking was obviously out of control. No one pulled me aside and told me that I was a mess. Even if I would have resisted, there wasn’t one person in my life who broached the subject with me.

It’s not their fault and I hold no ill-will towards anyone, but I tell this story to highlight that it was my own self-awareness that made me start to make the changes necessary to improve myself and my life.

While I’ve inspired other people, I didn’t do it for them. I did it for myself.

I’m not the best version of myself yet. I’m not even close. But I am closer this year than the last. Because I’m trying to be a better person, everyone around me becomes better just by interacting with me. In turn, I become better by interacting with them.

If you want to be the type of person that people look up to and respect…

If you want to be your best self and inspire others to do the same…

Then I present to you 10 habits that will make you a better person that you can start immediately.

1) Commit to improvement

The Japanese call this idea Kaizen.

It’s continuous improvement that centers around one key idea: big changes come from many small changes over time.

A big reason many people don’t improve is that they give luck too much credit for the outcome in their life. Or, if a person does accept that they’re responsible for the quality of their own life, they’re too impatient to stick to a daily routine that starts slow but will eventually bring them big changes and noticeable success.

Kaizen focuses on the small wins, made daily, that compound over time. Consistency is truly hard work for most people.

A small win every day will eventually look like a big win. These big wins look like luck to outsiders who aren’t patient enough to stick with something. However, it’s only through this patient approach to the worthwhile tasks in life that you’re able to become a better person.

There’s nothing that can’t be altered by making small, gradual improvements each day. Small changes in diet each day will result in large changes in health and appearance. The same thing can happen with changes in your finances and relationships.

Sticking to a daily routine, even if you only make small steps, is how to become a better person, regardless of your position in life.

2) Develop a sense of gratitude

Gratitude is powerful because it can change your thinking and mood instantaneously. Gratitude is so powerful that it can make you believe that everything is alright when it really isn’t.

This is alright. Your reality is nothing more than your perception anyway. No matter what’s going on around you, gratitude allows you to see each day as something amazing. Gratitude is one of the most underrated secrets for improving your well-being and keeping your mental health in check.

It completely eradicates any negative emotions, not just in the present moment but it weakens any grudges you hold against the world.

The effect of gratitude has also been measured extensively. A Berkeley University study on the effects of gratitude discovered the power of journaling about experiences that you’re grateful towards and how it makes you a better person.

Gratitude is seeing the world through the lens of relativity. It’s the ability to look at every situation and think either “This could be worse” or “I am incredibly fortunate”.

When you learn to habitually see things this way, you’ll feel sorry for the people who can’t. Unfortunately, they’ll always focus on what’s wrong in a situation. When you can look at any situation and be grateful to have experienced it, then you’re well on your way to becoming a better person.

3) Build healthy relationships

Imagine achieving your biggest dream. Then imagine having no one to share it with. Even worse, imagine that no one is happy for you and everyone curses you for it.

Only a fool would still be excited about the accomplishment.

This is because people are the most important thing in life.

No matter how digital or automatic the world becomes, humans still drive and operate it. You don’t need to be super popular and have a million best friends. You just need a few people you care about who care about you in return.

Your ability to interact with other people is key to your success. There is no penalty for being likable. Nothing bad comes from making a person feel good. No evil will befall you if you help people.

Being a better friend or family member is often as simple as being a good listener. We connect with one another not just through the shared experiences in our daily life, but also by sharing our stories, perspectives, and reflections.

Think about it. You feel better when people listen to you with an open heart and mind. So if you treat others with this same respect, then it’s a guarantee that your relationships will flourish.

The key to becoming a better person is to fill your life with meaningful relationships that give you something to live for outside of your own personal quest for the acquisition of status and objects.

4) Live with purpose

Your purpose in life doesn’t need to be extravagant. It doesn’t require sacrifice and suffering. Your purpose in life doesn’t need to be original or profound. It doesn’t even require a lifelong commitment.

You only need a guiding goal or vision that you can base decisions around.

A purpose is a grand vision. A grand vision is not necessarily concerned with the outcome or the process, but rather the reasoning that drives the action.

Making one million dollars is an outcome. There are many processes for accomplishing this, but why do you want it? What will you do with one million dollars that is worth everything you do to acquire it? Is it to lead a life of freedom, to be charitable, to be seen as successful, etc?

Your purpose transcends your goal and makes you think about what you really want. Maybe achieving your goal will get you there, but the process is completely against everything you stand for.

The best way to live better is to find goals that motivate you, processes that don’t require moral or ethical sacrifice, and an overarching purpose to guide everything that you do.

5) Sort your priorities

This sounds counter-intuitive, but you will always have problems if you believe that money is the most important thing.

There are 4 priorities in life: money, time, health, and reputation. These 4 things are responsible for all of the opportunities (business, familial, platonic, or romantic) that you get with other people.

Most people put money first. What they put last reveals their character.

Unscrupulous individuals place reputation last. The lazy place energy last. The workaholic places time last. As you become a better person, you realize that the more difficult something is to replenish, the more important it is.

As I’ve become a better person, my priorities have shifted because my understanding of myself, other people, and how the world works has shifted as well. I believe that the following is the order of prioritization for the best life: time > reputation > health > money.

I actually think that reputation and time are a bit equal, but I gave time the edge because it’s impossible to recover lost time. However, with a tremendous amount of effort, there are instances where you can repair a broken reputation.

You can always make more money, but you only have a finite amount of time to live. There are plenty of millionaires, but no immortals.

When you treat the foundations of life with the proper respect and order your priorities correctly, you’re well on your way to becoming a better person.

6) See the world with a strategic eye

Until you learn to think with a long time horizon, you’ll never be able to get ahead of your problems.

When you make plans in the short term, you’ll always be in a state of reaction. You’ll never have any energy to pursue long-term goals–the ones that will actually make you a better person and change your life–if you’re constantly reacting to short-term issues.

When you plan ahead, you’re rarely phased by sudden surprises or emergencies. The only time you shouldn’t consider the long term is when you’re on your deathbed.

For some reason, most people routinely neglect the long term when they make decisions. It’s one thing to be wrong about the future; that happens to us all. It’s another problem entirely to never consider it in the first place.

This lack of foresight stems from an inability to endure the suffering of delayed gratification. By sidestepping this suffering, the irony is that you suffer more.

7) Learn to understand human nature

If you know and accept the truth about yourself, it becomes easier to know and accept the truth about other people. Most of us are neither good or bad. We’re just trying to make the best out of our individual situations.

Unfortunately, this sometimes makes it more sensible for people to be bad and difficult for them to be good. Your job is not to judge. Only to protect yourself from the negative and prepare to benefit from the positive.

A sure road to disappointment is to expect too much from people. Simply expect people to be people. Do your best to bring out the best in them, but don’t be disappointed if people behave like most humans you’ve encountered in the past.

Most people expect others to behave a certain way and become critical when they don’t, while simultaneously making concessions for their poor behavior. A great trick for becoming a better person is to do the opposite:

Be critical of yourself, but understanding of the world.

Yes, sometimes you have to hold certain people in your life to a certain level of expectation, but this is reserved for those closest to you. Even then, remember that they’re only human.

8) Live by standards

Most people have no standards or don’t enforce them. Without standards, a person does what is easiest instead of what is best.

The path of least resistance defines the life of the mediocre in every area. Their bodies aren’t toned, their minds aren’t sharp, and their relationships aren’t genuine.

If you want to become a better person, you must accept that the best view comes after the hardest climb. You have to embrace a challenging lifestyle because, ironically enough, it’s the only lifestyle that will make your life worth living.

Your standards determine what you eat, where you live, and how you interact with the world. Your life is a constant display of the standards you hold yourself to.

High quality of life is enviable because it’s not easily attainable. When everyone else wants to coast through life, happy to survive, you must work through life, doing the best job you possibly can.

9) Take nothing personally

Most people are self-centered. They believe the universe is focused on them. Some even believe they’re personally blessed by God.

This attitude may benefit them when things are going well, but this also causes a person to take everything that happens to them personally as if life has nothing better to do than harass them.

The best people never take any affront personally. The moment a person makes a problem personal, they’re unable to think clearly about it. You’ll never become a better person when you make every problem personal.

You must understand that an unfortunate side effect of living in the universe is that bad things will happen to you simply because you exist. However, the universe is completely impersonal and impartial.

People are merely agents in the universe.

Sometimes you meet good people and sometimes you meet bad people. By not taking any of it personally, you can always make the best decisions and learn from your interactions with them.

10) Always give value

There is a simple formula for computing your worth. If you give more than you take, you’re an asset. If you take more than given, you’re a liability.

Assets are valuable. Liabilities are dangerous.

Life is always better if you’re valuable. You’re more valuable when you help others. When you help others, you make the world a better place.

The way to become valuable is to give more to the world than you take from it. if you do this, then you’ll leave any place you visit a better version of itself than when you arrived.

Most people always take from the world. They exist in a constant state of production, hardly producing anything. You see this in their choice of entertainment and lifestyle. They do not leave the world better than they found it.

These people are living examples of the scarcity mindset.

The mere act of putting more into the world than you take from it means you’ll benefit people.

By helping people, you’ll always be in a position to receive compensation. That compensation may be in the form of time, energy, money, or reputation.

You can’t become a better person when you approach the world through a scarcity mindset. You can’t deliver value to the world if you have a scarcity mindset.

How To Become A Better Person In 10 Steps, Summarized

  1. Commitment to constant improvement
  2. Have a sense of gratitude
  3. Build close Relationships With friends and loved ones
  4. Live with a purpose
  5. Sort your priorities
  6. Plan for the long term
  7. Understand human nature
  8. Have standards
  9. Take nothing personally
  10. Always give value

The rest is up to you.

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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