Somehow, over the past decades, it has become less cool to be a good person and more cool to behave badly.
Maybe it’s the influence of reality TV, maybe it’s because of social media or our current crop of politicians.
Whatever the reason, in 2020, let’s make it cool again to be good. The “old-fashioned” values aren’t outmoded. They’ve been around forever because they’re the foundations of a civilized and civil society.
Here are 20 ways to be a better person in 2020:
1. Be kind
Being selfish and insensitive is isolating and alienating. You might achieve your material goals, but the cost of being unkind is that the people around you will be miserable. Studies have proven that being generous, understanding, respectful, and tolerant will bring you joy and meaningful connection.
2. Tell the truth
Lying forces you to spend all your energy maintaining the lie as opposed to living your best life. You can’t have intimacy because that requires honesty, but when you start telling the truth, everyone trusts you and relies on you. You form meaningful connections and your heart is full.
3. Keep your promises
Imagine if you became the person who always did what they said they’d do. You’d be the most popular person, professionally and socially. People reward you when you have integrity.
4. Be on time
When you constantly come late, you come across as rude and inconsiderate. Start showing up on time and see how much the people in your life will start to value and appreciate you.
5. Keep a secret
When someone tells you something in confidence, they trust you to keep it to yourself. When you tell someone else their secret, you develop the reputation of someone who’s untrustworthy. This will eventually come back to bite you.
6. Work hard
Laziness isn’t attractive. When you shirk your work, you get nowhere in life and people will come to resent you. Do your work and you’ll reap the rewards, and everyone else will appreciate you.
7. Give, don’t take
Happiness comes from making a contribution, not by accumulating money, power, or stuff. When we make a contribution, we form meaningful connections and leave the world a better place. When we’re greedy and insatiable, we deplete all the resources and end up empty and alienated.
8. Be polite
Never underestimate the social capital you’ll gain by just being polite. You’ll come across as intelligent, educated, and classy, and people in your professional and social circles will value you.
9. Stop complaining
Complaining is like vomiting all over the other person. They feel dirtied and exploited when having to listen to your torrent of complaints.
10. Hold your tongue
Carefully consider the consequences of what you’re about to say. You can’t unsay something hurtful, and the other person can’t unhear it. Many divorces could have been averted if one or both parties had just held their tongue. Many an employee could have kept their job if they’d only kept their mouth shut.
11. Think before you act
Carefully consider what you’re about to do and ask yourself if the potential harm to yourself or others is really worth the risk.
12. Be less touchy
When you learn to put things in perspective, you’re less easily offended. You become someone whom people want to be around, as opposed to someone who makes everyone uncomfortable because you react so negatively to the littlest of things.
13. Be humble
Nobody needs you to toot your own horn. People are turned off when you brag about your accomplishments or popularity. Let the others compliment you. They’ll appreciate you more if they get to decide whether or not you’re amazing.
14. Stop making assumptions
You risk coming across as a jerk when you make assumptions. You stand to hurt people’s feelings, create catastrophic misunderstandings, and lose friends or jobs this way. At best, you look like a fool, and at worst, you come across as abusive. Get the full picture before you start criticizing or rejecting.
15. Stop being so controlling
Control borders on the abusive. Respect means allowing others to make their own decisions, whether or not you approve or agree. If you really can’t stand another person’s behavior, you’re free to discuss the problem or simply walk away.
16. Drive courteously
It’s crazy to let your inner three-year-old be in charge when you’re steering a 2,000-pound vehicle through the streets. Innumerable accidents and infinite stress could be prevented if everyone just calmed down and drove more courteously. The extra two minutes you save are meaningless compared to the risks you’re taking with everyone’s life.
17. Be a good neighbor
There’s no good reason to be at war with your neighbors. If they’re behaving badly, remember that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Being pleasant might enable you to resolve any difficulties that arise between you. And if you have an elderly or isolated neighbor, being kind creates a support network that will benefit you down the road.
18. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Climate change is real and potentially devastating. It’s up to every one of us to make the problem better, not worse. There’s no room for short-sighted selfishness or denial here.
19. Be a good listener
Pay attention to what people are saying and avoid projecting your own narrative into their words. Close connections depend on mutual understanding. When you listen carefully, you can form close allegiances, both personally and professionally.
20. Take responsibility for your actions
Blaming others for your problems makes you unable to resolve them. People will resent you when you make things their fault and expect them to clean up your messes. When you take responsibility for your behavior, you’re empowered to make things better and everybody wins.
Being a good person is the new cool thing to do.
Happy 2020, and enjoy being the best version of you.