Promise #9 for the New Year: To Be A Better Person

On January 10, 2001, I asked you to add one more very important thing to your list of New Year’s resolutions: to become a better person.

And to do that by making a commitment to:

* pay less attention to yourself and more attention to other people

* focus on opportunities, not problems

* listen first, talk later

* criticize only when your criticism is helpful

* never speak badly about anyone

* never complain about anything

* perform an act of kindness every day I told you that this would have the most profound effect on your happiness.

That nothing else you ever achieve in life will bring you peace of mind. Not money. Not success. Not fame.

<How Did You Do in 2001?>

Did you focus your energies outside of yourself and toward the benefit of people around you? I did — sometimes — and when I did I felt great about it. At other times (and I’d like to think they were less frequent this year), I forgot about this important goal and whined, complained, fought, or criticized — and never once did that kind of behavior make me feel very good.

You can try to be good because you believe in God or because you believe in a world where goodness is necessary. Or you can try to be good simply because it makes you feel good. But try it. And don’t feel silly about making it formal, writing it down, reminding yourself on your task lists, etc. Anything worth doing is worth doing with seriousness and purpose. Why should being better not be so?

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]