We spend so much time trying to achieve this or earn that it becomes easy to overlook what’s truly important. While we all know (or knew at one time) the difference between right and wrong, sometimes the grind of life causes us to forget the basics. The good news is this is something we can correct today, with these 10 easy ways to be a better person.

Hopefully, they’ll reiterate the simple things we can do to make the world a more pleasant place. Sometimes we all can use a little reminder.

1. Say please and thank you.

Simple, yet so often overlooked. When you want something, say please. When someone does something nice for you, say thank you. 

Maybe I am more sensitive to this than some, but whenever I experience a situation where those words aren’t said, the omission is glaring. 

I’m afraid the more common it becomes over time, the less we might even notice it happening. But now that I bring it up, I bet you’ll notice quite often.

Thankfully, this is something we can do more of today and start making a difference right away. We can’t make other people do it, but we can set the example and hope they catch on. 

2. Be courteous.

This can be applied in a number of different ways. In general, it means to see things from another’s perspective. If there is something you can do to make their situation easier, then do it. 

Often the things we can do aren’t much of a burden to us, either. But even if they require you to go a little bit out of your way, kind deeds done in the name of personal sacrifice repay themselves many times over. It may not happen right away, but there is something to be said for maintaining positive karma.

Finding opportunities to extend courtesies aren’t that hard either. Stay aware of what’s going on around you, even when you are preoccupied. 

There are always chances to hold the door open for someone who has both hands full, or to help pick up the stack of papers that was just dropped in front of you. 

You’re right, it isn’t your problem that they’re clumsy, but it is your opportunity to do something nice for someone else. And if you want to be considered a decent person, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.

3. Follow the Golden Rule.

Most religions follow some form of this phrase. In case you’ve never heard of the Golden Rule before it goes something like this:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The exact wording varies depending on which religion you’re asking, but the concept is consistent. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. 

The beautiful part of the Golden Rule is how straight forward it is. Think about how great things would be if everyone followed it. There would be no crime, no war, and no murder. 

Now we can’t control the actions of everyone else, but we can control how we behave.

Unfortunately, in the cutthroat society that we live in, more and more people are having a difficult time following the Golden Rule. 

It is almost considered necessary to shortchange others to get the things you want, which is far from the truth. You’ll be much better off working together with others rather than knocking them down. 

Resist the temptation to step on others so that you can inch yourself ahead. It doesn’t pay off in the long run. 

4. Work with others.

Years ago, I was driving on the highway and there were quite a few cars on the road. I was coming up to a merging area where the road bends and intersects with another highway.

It could have been either very dangerous or very time consuming to navigate through the cars. 

Instead, it seemed as though all 7-10 cars involved understood that the best way for them to make their way through the junction was to cooperate with the other drivers. 

People slowed or sped up, changed lanes or stayed put, all in an attempt to make things easier for the other cars on the road. 

What happened as a result was a very smooth merger with absolute minimal time wasted. 

Had a driver here or there possessed a “me-first” attitude he or she may have snuck in a car or two ahead, but ultimately it could have taken more time to do so. 

Because everyone was on the same page and worked together, the entire group benefited. This example of cooperation and teamwork is applicable in all areas of life. 

It has been proven time and time again the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of all its parts. Twenty people working together can achieve more than that of twenty individuals. 

However, people too often assume that what’s immediately best for them is what’s ultimately best for them. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the best move is one step backward in order to take two steps forward. 

Obtain the help of others whenever possible and to offer yours as well. The potential of those who work in unison is limitless.

5. Smile.

Never underestimate the power of a smile. The effect is two-fold. It lifts the spirits of the one who smiles and also those they smile at. 

If you don’t believe me, try this experiment. For an entire day before you say a word to anyone, smile first. If you’re walking past them, smile wide and say hello. Notice their reaction. 

Most will smile back and those that don’t are either preoccupied or generally unfriendly. But that’s okay. Smile anyway. Those who notice will feel uplifted, even if they don’t realize it. And when they smile back at you, you will also feel good. 

It’s difficult to measure the impact, however, a variety of things could happen. The person whom you smile at might:

  • Smile at the next person they see also, beginning a chain reaction (think Pay It Forward). 
  • Be more internally motivated and inspired to go about their day. 
  • Shift from a depressed, angry, or hopeless mood to one of satisfaction, joy, and calm. 
  • Be more willing to help you with anything that you may need. 

There are dozens of other things that a smile can bring to someone’s day. And the best part about it? It doesn’t cost a thing. More effort is required to be rude to someone than to be polite. So laziness is not an excuse. Simply find something to be happy about and smile.

6. Listen.

Although it is our instinct to talk first, listening can actually be an advantage. 

Let’s say you’re negotiating on buying a new car. 

The most important thing the salesman will want to know is how much you’re planning to spend. Then it’s his job to find you one for slightly more than that.

The more you talk the more likely he is to extract that information from you. And from there his training is specifically aimed at getting as much money from you as possible. 

However, if you’re able to turn the tables slightly and let him do most of the talking, you may be able to get a better idea of what they’ll be willing to let the car go for. Then you’ll be able to direct the sale more towards what you’re hoping to pay.

If you spend most of the time talking then you won’t learn anything, because it’s assumed that you already know the things you’re talking about. But if you can position yourself in a situation where you’re in a conversation with a really smart person, the sky’s the limit on what you can learn. 

The next time you find yourself in a position to listen more or talk, think about which option will benefit you most overall. Sometimes having the self control to quiet down is your most advantageous move.

7. Say I’m Sorry.

This is one of the first lessons we learn in life, yet it is often forgotten as we get older. 

The principle is simple. If you wrong someone, or if you make a mistake, or if you hurt another person (intentionally or unintentionally), apologize. Say you’re sorry and do your best to remedy the situation. 

Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, sometimes it’s still best to apologize. By accepting the responsibility you speed up the correction process. Now that we know who is responsible, we can move ahead with a plan to fix it. This takes some courage, especially if you’re apologizing for something that’s not your fault, but in the end, you’ll come out better for it.

I am much quicker to forgive someone who has done me wrong if they show genuine sorrow or regret for what they’ve done. Not only that, but if they apologize and then attach an explanation I will most certainly hear them out.

If they tried to defend themselves first, my anger and frustration will cloud my thoughts and any explanation they provide is taken with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, one fact prevails: it takes a brave and secure person to accept responsibility and express sorrow for their mistakes. But the truth is, the reward is worth the risk. Those who apologize are respected and thought of as genuine, caring individuals, despite any mistakes they might make.

8. Be Honest.

Tell the truth, even when it isn’t in your best interest to do so. There is a lot to be said for the person who can admit they’re wrong (see above) and come clean with their mistake. 

It should also be noted that telling a lie is only a temporary fix. The problem or issue is still there, under the blanket of the lie, and it will stay there until properly disposed of. 

Granted, it may stay there indefinitely, but it is never put to rest until it’s approached face to face. The more you avoid the truth, the longer it takes to get ahead.

Honesty is a reflection of one’s self-dignity and self-respect. Don’t risk either of those, especially at the expense of a lie regarding a trivial matter. 

Remember, things that seem extremely important at the time often aren’t nearly as big a deal a few weeks or months later. Value your reputation and protect it.

9. Be Complimentary.

Have you ever received an unexpected compliment that just brightens your day? It felt pretty good didn’t it? 

If you’re like most people you enjoy receiving compliments. Even the smallest, simplest comments fill us with joy. 

So knowing that, why would we ever be stingy with compliments? Pay them generously, but not so often that they lose their effect. 

People will enjoy your company because they know that you won’t miss an opportunity to express your admiration.

There are really only two reasons why someone would refuse to compliment another. The first is lack of awareness. They simply don’t notice or don’t think to tell you they like something about you. This is probably the most common reason, and this post will hopefully fix some of that. 

The second reason is less frequent, though still a common occurrence. Jealousy. People are hesitant to compliment others when they feel a sense of insecurity about themselves. 

It’s as though bringing another’s accomplishments to light will magnify their own failure to produce similar accomplishments. 

Self-confidence and security in their own abilities will increase the likelihood that they will compliment others.

We develop an appreciation for those who compliment us because they boost our confidence and make us feel good. And since there is no cost for compliments there is no excuse for not handing them out.

10. Laugh.

Let’s face it, laughing is fun. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember a time when laughing has put me in a bad mood. It’s therapeutic. And contagious. 

So while you’re finding ways to make yourself laugh, you could also be encouraging laughter from others. There is 

It shouldn’t be very hard to find something to make you laugh, but if you’re having trouble, look up some jokes on the internet or put on your favorite funny movie. However you create the mood, don’t underestimate the value in laughter.


I hope that you find this list of ways to become a better person useful. They are simple and even generic concepts and ideas, but that is what makes them easy to implement. 

So although we should be aware of the ideas on this list, putting them into practice is where we might fall short. 

Usually, it just comes down to awareness and a little bit of effort to make them a significant part of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be a better, happier person all around.

Featured photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

RJ Licata author headshot


I am a marketer, a writer, and a thinker. Sometimes I do all three at once. My greatest achievement is convincing my wife to marry me. We have three kids and yes, one of them is my favorite. I'm the author of "Lessons for Joey: 100 Things I Can't Wait to Teach My Son" and "Where Greatness Lives".

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