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by Jennifer Brown Banks

15 Ways to be a Cut Above the Rest

“Real grace is not looking down your nose at other people.”
~ Nikki Parker

Recently, while teaching a creative writing class at a local adult’s center, something happened that took me by surprise and inspired this article.

One of the students had not been told by the clerk that there was a $10.00 materials fee in addition to the registration cost. He didn’t have it.

Because he happened to be a friend of mine, I gave him the related supplies, and accepted his I.O.U..

When the class ended, however, another gentleman in the class came up to me and paid the fee for him. This generous soul came to the rescue of my friend without even knowing him! And to top it off, he told him not to worry about paying it back.

This random act of kindness moved me and reminded me of how we all should strive to be.

So many people are focused on “makeovers” and having a polished appearance, and too few are focused on developing character and helping their fellow man.

With this in mind, I offer the following 15 ways to be a cut above the rest:

1. Give Without Expectation.
Karma will reward your kindness in ways you couldn’t imagine! Don’t give with an agenda, or keep score. Submit your time, talents, and resources to those in need, family and friends. Your blessings will be bountiful!

2. Don't Repeat Everything You Hear.
I am often amazed at how people (particularly women), repeat damaging and discrediting gossip about other females without a shred of evidence or conscience! The “grapevine” is not always gospel. Don’t add to the madness!

3. Don't Repeat Everything You Hear.
See Point #2.

4. Judge Less.
“ Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

5. Tolerate Differing Opinions.
I have seen folks almost get into fist fights because a comment made or perspective held was opposite of their own. Lighten up! If we were all meant to think and act alike, the creator would have cloned us. I believe that an open but “discerning” mind is a true sign of intelligence.

6. Take the High Road.
There's less traffic.

7. Know What to Ignore.
A secure person doesn’t feel the need to put every ignorant or rude individual in his or her place every time a slight occurs. Sometimes silence is the most effective statement you can make.

8. Form Your Own Opinions.
Peer pressure is alive and well, even amidst adult folks! Don’t succumb. Have your own views and your own voice.

9. Watch Your Tongue.
I truly admire “straight-shooters”. I consider myself one of them. But always be mindful of other individuals’ feelings. There is an appropriateness factor to everything. Not to mention, many times people are more inclined to remember what you say much longer than what you do. No matter how many good deeds you are known for, the minute you say something unkind, or something misconstrued as harsh, people forget the redeeming stuff.

10. Champion a Worthy Cause.
The late Civil Rights activist, Rosa Parks, is an excellent example of how one person can make a difference. What are you passionate about? What injustice angers you? Devote your energies and efforts to making the world a better place.

11. Give Benefit of the Doubt.
Don’t always think that every offense is intentional, or that everybody’s actions have ulterior motives.

12. Lead by Example.
Contrary to Charles Barkley’s perspective, we are all “role models” to somebody-- many times whether we choose to be or not. Nobody’s perfect, but at least live in a manner that shows you’ve got some class.

13. Cheer Other Peoples Successes.

14. Forgive a Grudge.
Be it with a family member or former friend-- bury the hatchet! Anger has a corrosive effect, and can actually cause you as much turmoil as the object of your anger.

15. Be a Person of Your Word.
To keep a good reputation, and the respect of others, keep your word.

And perhaps most importantly, give your best.

Don’t be content with mediocrity or just getting by! If you do, you’ll be cheating yourself and depriving the world of your full potential.

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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