How to be a Softer You in the New Year

how to be a softer, more empathetic person

10 ways to be softer in the new year (2)

We keep saying that 2016 has not been the kindest year known to mankind. To be fair, it has not been the worst known to mankind, either. However, it has probably been the most dismal in my adult life, full of harsh reminders about how cruel our world can really be. Whenever you are watching war footage on the news or hearing derogatory commentaries about any group of souls, it is tempting to simply shut down. To flip the switch into the “off” position. To become harsh to keep away the harshness. Unfortunately, that is the thing we should most avoid. The Golden Rule so aptly quotes “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and so we must take heed. I for one, would love have a world that is a little bit softer, a little bit kinder, but it is hard, I do not lie.

Point in case: The neighbors took down their Trump signs recently, much to my relief. I feel horrible that each time I walked by their home, a little bit of anger welled up in me. I thought worse of them for it. I judged them for doing this to me, to us, to their country. But what does my judgement accomplish? I do not know their life; they do not know mine. So instead of being harsh, perhaps it is best to smile next time I see them and say hello. They didn’t cast their vote to hurt my feelings. Everyone is doing their best, whether I understand their motives or not.

And that is just the thing: everyone is doing what they think is best. Even if they are wrong, they have something in their mind that is making them think their choice is right. The only way to combat this attitude is to treat them with kindness, education, and love. No one enjoys being told they are in the wrong. Surely as I type this, no one enjoys being told they are wrong from a harsh, smug attitude. Thus, we must remain soft, kind. We must be the example – the change we wish to see.

Yet, you may ask, how do we soften the edges of our persona when we are surrounded by images of war, of mass shootings, of sick and dying children, when we see racism in our every day life? I have gathered a few ways mentioned below, but I am very interested in you adding to the list.

how to be soft in a cruel world

10 ways to be a better person in 2017

Surround yourself with beautiful things. The types of things that make you happy down into your subconscious: plants, fresh flowers, crystals, your favorite book lying in the floor next to your bed. These types of things will subconsciously make you happier on a day to day basis.

Read poetry. I was gifted a used (!!!) copy poetry by good old Mr. Robert Frost for Christmas. Read, read, read. See what other found to be lovely, and focus on those things.

Pray. I am a prayer. You mightn’t be. You don’t have to be. But if you do not pray for the courage to be the best version of yourself, at least set aside a few minutes to meditate, journal, do whatever you can to be that person.

Clean and tidy. A tidy space leads to a tidy mind. I personally find this to be cathartic and makes me calmer, more peaceful, so I have more patience and clearer breaths.

Create good smells. I choose incense, but do what you must to make your home a place of positivity. Stovetop potpourri and candles are also good options.

Give to someone less fortunate. Shelters are in need of winter wear this time of year. Buy some quality winter socks (for both genders), knit scarves, grab some gloves… do whatever you can to prevent someone growing raw with winter’s winds.

Perfume. I know I said make your home smell good, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Perfume makes everything feel just a touch more special.

Wear beautiful underwear. It might sound silly, but when I am wearing something lovely underneath, I feel just a tiny bit better about myself, which turns into feeling better in this world. Lace cures all ailments of the mood.

Try a happiness photo journal. We are not talking about works of art, really, but a project to keep around moments of happiness. Try one week, and photograph something each day that makes you happy.

Compliment one person a day. It can be anything, from the color of their lipstick to saying they have good taste in food or literature.

  • This is beautiful and SO true! I’ve been harsh on people the past few months, more than I normally am, because of politics. I’ve been putting my anger onto people for their beliefs. I agree that 2017 should be a softer, better, kinder year.

    • Elizabeth Hisle

      Yeah, we can’t go back and change it now, so I’m just trying to calm down from it all, you know?

  • If I had any personal goals going into the new year, this was it. This is a wonderful read, and I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind.

    Amber | y a c h t s m a a n

    • Elizabeth Hisle

      Thank you. 🙂

  • Good tips 😛

  • Oh my goodness.
    Yes!!! It’s been hard not letting myself get angry in light of certain things in our world. I try to keep it to myself…because you are right, I can’t blame others for doing what they thought was right. Getting angry doesn’t help. I loved your list too! I’d add painting or doing anything creative. Making something always puts me in a good mood. Writing letters to loved ones is fun too. I just started writing letters to a friend, whom I’d never suspect we’d ever start being pen pals.

    Love it!

    • Elizabeth Hisle

      You are right. ANYTHING creative force a wash of calmness over me.

  • rae

    I love the idea of bringing more softness into our life – for me softness is simply remaining positive, being kind despite everything, and still seeing the beauty in the world and these tips are sure to promote that. (Glad your nieghbours finally took down their Trump signs too! – And while I agree that everyone is just out there trying to do what they think is best, I have a very hard time reconciling people who are pro-Trump because in this case the “ends” do not justify and never will justify the means.

    Rae | Love from Berlin

    • Elizabeth Hisle

      Oh, I agree 110%. I’m having a very difficult time accepting Trump anything, but it’s too late now, I guess. We already fucked up and we can’t go back.

  • This is such a beautifully written post. I definitely want to try to be more kind and soft to people, and to myself. I agree with year has been quite full of emotions and negatively charged ones and it’s nice to sit back, reflect, and try to make your own change.


    • Elizabeth Hisle

      Thank you so much. If we all agree to be a little kinder, think of all the changes we could make!

  • Amy

    Oh Elizabeth, you are so gifted with your spirit and your words. We are so lucky to witness it.

    • Elizabeth Hisle

      Thank you so much. It is always extra touching to hear from fellow artists. It’s healing, actually.

  • Elizabeth, I am so delighted I found your blog! I like your writing style and I appreciate a lot the photos you’ve taken.
    As for this post in particular, I couldn’t agree more with what you said at the beginning, that we have the tendency to let the worldly stuff take away our kindness, as you said “to become harsh to keep away the harshness”.
    It’s a beautiful and inspiring advice: trying to be softer this year. Hope everything works as you planned by now.

    Ioana xx / The Lunatour

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