They’re so easy even a kid can embrace them

I haven’t always been an A-grade citizen. From cheating and stealing to wheeling and dealing, I’m ashamed to say I’ve done plenty of less-than-admirable things. Some of them were on a small scale, while others seriously hurt the people I care about.

My past actions weighed on me heavily for years, especially after my wife and I had decided to start a family. I was overwhelmed by the thought that I might be a bad influence on my children.

However, what I failed to consider was how much of an influence my kids would have on me.

Over the last four years, I’ve finally discovered what I’m supposed to do with my life. More importantly, I’m proud of who I am today —this is all thanks to my wife and our two little men.

Below are five key lessons my children have taught me. Although revealed by a couple of little boys who each barely stand 3-feet tall, each lesson has paid big dividends when it comes to being kinder to the people around me.

*

1. Start each day by doing something nice for someone:

Every day when my children wake up I witness something amazing.

Like a lot of people, when my one-year-old son first opens his eyes in the morning he’s scared. His cries have become the alarm clock for my eldest boy: as soon as he hears his little brother wailing, “big brother” runs over to the crib, gives the baby his pacifier, and then tries to make him laugh.

Life is hard. But my oldest son has taught me that the best way to make it easier is by doing what we can to brighten the lives of others.

Waking up in the morning and grabbing your partner instead of your phone. Leaving a message for a friend letting them know how much they mean to you. Kicking off the day by calling a family member just to check in.

These things may sound basic — but I’ll be damned if they’re not effective.

*

2. Give people a greeting that makes them smile:

Whenever my wife gets home from work each day I witness something amazing.

Acting as if they’ve worked with a professional choreographer for years, when my kids hear the front door open they both scream in unison, “Mama!” — and then run to give her a giant hug.

One evening several months ago, as my lazy ass was sitting on the couch watching my wife’s face glow I thought to myself, “Shit — why don’t I do that?”

Since that day I’ve tried to not only meet my wife with a smile and a kiss when she comes home, but I’ve also become more conscious of how I greet other people. Starting conversations off on a positive note instead of complaining has done a world of good for not only my relationships but also my overall mood. In the process, it’s taught me that energy really is life’s true currency.

Showing your excitement when you see someone. Smiling at a stranger and asking how their day is going. Nodding encouragingly at a fellow runner during your evening jog.

These things may sound basic — but I’ll be damned if they’re not effective.

*

3. Share what you love:

Whenever my family and I are eating something good I witness something amazing.

In our house, Friday night is ice cream night. Like clockwork, when my four-year-old takes his first bite and says his standard “Wow!”, he then immediately asks not only my wife and me, but also his baby brother if we’d like to try some.

I don’t know about you, but I find this charming.

Whenever I have something delicious sitting in front of me I want to devour it and keep it all for myself. However, seeing other people’s eyes light up whenever my son makes this gesture has proven to me that sharing is indeed the fastest way to move life from good to great.

Insisting that your friend gets the last slice of pizza. Offering to loan your buddy your favorite book. Introducing two people who may benefit from getting to know each other.

These things may sound basic — but I’ll be damned if they’re not effective.

*

4. Let other people enjoy the spotlight:

Whenever people come up to my youngest son and tell us how cute he is I witness something amazing.

I’m partial, of course, but my kids really are cute. The teenage girls who hang out in front of my apartment building call my oldest boy Justin Bieber. My youngest has the blondest hair and the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen, which makes him stand out here in small-town Catalunya. Throw in the fact that he’s about as social as a one-year-old could be and you get someone who gets attention everywhere he goes.

For a while I worried my oldest son was envious of all the attention his little brother receives. When I asked him about this, however, I learned this wasn’t the case:

“Why would I feel like that? He deserves it. He makes other people smile. I’m happy for him.”

As adults, so many of us (myself included) seek out the spotlight — sometimes at the expense of others. And yet, here was a four-year-old telling me how happy he was that someone else was receiving the majority of the attention.

Sitting back and watching other people bask in the sun. Not grabbing the microphone from someone else’s hand just so you can say, “That’s great, but look at what I’ve done.

These things may sound basic — but I’ll be damned if they’re not effective.

*

5. Be there for people when they fall:

Whenever one of my kids hurts himself I witness something amazing.

The beauty of children is that each one of them is unique. However, a common tie that binds them together is the fact that they all fall — and often.

Whenever this happens to my one-year-old, his older brother runs to over him and, without saying a word, he puts his arm around him and helps him to wipe off the dirt.

What really melts my heart is that he doesn’t stop with his brother. He reacts the same way whenever any of his friends hurt themselves. He doesn’t bog them down with questions like “What happened? and “Are you okay?” Instead, he simply helps them to their feet, which lets them know that he’s there for him.

Many people want to provide people with answers when things go south. But my little man has taught me first hand just how much more powerful a supportive shoulder can be than a running mouth.

Showing people you have their backs. Wiping off the dirt when people fall. Helping people get back on their feet.

These things may sound basic — but I’ll be damned if they’re not effective.

*

Motivation speaker Jim Rohn coined the now-famous phrase screamed by both self-help experts and business elites — “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

Normally when I hear an over-used phrase I try to find a hole, but in the case above I couldn’t agree more. Who we surround ourselves with matters and in a big way.

I can’t help thinking when it comes to the top three spots on my list — my wife and two little ones have seriously upped my average when it comes to becoming a kinder human being.

Prior to having kids I wanted to be influential.

Today I don’t — I want to be influenced by good people.

My two little men taught me the importance of that.

*

Quick Aside: Every evening (no matter what happens during the day) my family has a group hug. When it comes to raising our happiness levels I can’t help but think physical human contact is severely undervalued. This is for the simple fact it’s hard to go to bed angry at someone after giving them a hug.

*

This article first appeared in PS I Love You (Medium.com)

“Quality Opportunities Always Come From Quality Relationships”Get The Free Guide Here