Personality Traits

If you have a second, check out this study. Essentially it followed 2400 children as young as 1st graders. Teachers had completed personality ratings of their students measuring talkativeness (verbal fluency), adaptability, impulsiveness and self-minimizing behavior. 40 years later, researchers caught up with 144 of those individuals and conducted videotaped interviews. Click on this link for the full review if you are interested in the findings.

When I saw the personality attributes, I couldn’t help but think of my own children, and how their teacher would describe them. Pretty adaptable, not too impulsive, average intelligence. How would that translate into their adult personality? Will they be successful? Driven? Secure in themselves? How much influence do I have in helping them develop their personalities? What personality traits do I place value on and encourage? How does ones personality help define their character? I want nothing more than for my children to grow up as well adjusted, successful, content, Christ-centered adults.

The personality traits of this world are so often in opposition to our Christian walk. For instance, the self-minimizing behavior referenced above… Isn’t that really defined as being humble?

1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”  The article also made a negative reference to adults needing to seek advice. Isn’t this also contrary to what the Bible says? Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

I come from a medical background and find great value in research. I tend to agree with the article’s findings. Personality traits exhibited in our youth will continue to follow a child throughout their years. What I question is society’s measure of success. Are the personality traits I place value on in alignment with the world or the word? I’m not saying it can’t be both, but what I am saying is I’d much rather have my compass set to God’s standards.

Give it a name

Welcome back!  This is part two of the post where I introduced Towanda.  If you missed that, you can check it out by following this link.  If you had made the decision to read on, lets give it a name.

First, you need to be WILLING to acknowledge that you have some character defects or areas that need work in your life.  Remember, if you’re perfect you were supposed to stop reading – so the fact that you’re still reading this suggests that you’ve already accepted that you need some work and you’re willing.  YIPEE!

Second, go ahead, name it!  Be creative and have FUN with this!  A couple of my friends liked the sound of Towanda, but they changed the first letter to correspond with their first name.  If you’d like to do that, you could too!  Here are a couple of examples:  Lowanda, Kowanda, Awanda, Jowanda, Dowanda.  It doesn’t matter what you name it, JUST give it a name so you can CALL IT OUT!

Third and Last, now you’ve got the name.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen.  Write the name that you came up with for your character defects at the top of the piece of paper and then below the name jot down character traits you’d like to attach to that name.  If you’re experiencing writers block, feel free to look at Towanda’s list if it helps, she’s definitely got a lot of defects to choose from….UGH!

Now that you’ve identified your NEW unwanted friend, what do you do when she/he is triggered and all her/his character defects start to move through you.  Keep in mind that the character defects are often individual – they do NOT always come out at one time.  So be watchful, your ‘towanda’ may be sneaky and could creep in very quietly.

Before I share with you the steps to take to deal with your ‘towanda’ there are two things you need to do.

1.  You need to PREPARE. What this means is create an accountability group.  It doesn’t have to be huge – believe me, who wants to share this information with EVERYONE (except for me?!?!?).  However, you need to let a couple of people know what you’re doing, people who you can trust and who will be honest with you.  Know this, you need to be willing to receive truth from the people in this group, even when its painfully ULGY!  This is VERY important, so don’t overlook it.  Who will you share your unwanted friend character traits with?

2.  Keep watch DAILY-EYES WIDE OPEN. At first it might seem to be a lot of work and you might miss your ‘towanda’, but over time it becomes easier to identify.  Let me give you some examples of what you might be looking for:

  • You feel a storm raging within you, your blood starts to boil, or your stomach is in knots.
  • You get upset about a situation or with a person
  • Things just aren’t going your way, the way you planned or expected, you may feel frustrated and irritable
  • You’re having a bad day, you feel angry, you’re upset.
  • You have the urge to talk negative about another person with a friend or co-worker – you are gossiping
  • You’re feeling depressed and want to have a pity-party, be the victim
  • You are impatient with others and nobody seems to do anything right.
  • You are feeling disappointed.  Others/situations are not meeting your expectations – you feel let down

If you start to feel any of these things??  FLASHING LIGHT –  Lightening BOLTSDING DING DING – your ‘towanda’ has been triggered AND is awake!!  What do you do NOW?  Immediately!!  Let me suggest the following 4 steps that have worked for me………

1.  ACKNOWLEDGE that you’re feeling your ‘towanda’.  It’s OK!  We are NOT perfect, we are a work in progress, we are human and unfortunately your ‘towanda’ will stay alive as long as you do.  Your goal is to identify it and by acknowledging it, you’ve accomplished step one.

2.  CALL IT OUT.  I know this sounds silly, but actually say out loud what you’re feeling and speak against it.  Let me give you an example of a situation:

You wake up with anxiety in your stomach, your mind starts to race about everything that needs to get done.  You don’t know what the outcome will be in a certain situation so you are playing out every possible scenario in your mind, you are stressed out and worried that things may NOT work out how YOU think they should.

You acknowledge THIS is your ‘towanda’ – NOW you need to call it out, speak to it, say something out loud like this, “I am trying to manipulate and control this situation.  I have the ability to control myself and no one else, I will simply do my best, the outcome I have NO control over.”

What you’re doing in this step is calling out the character traits of your towanda and speaking truth against the situation.  To put it simple, identify the negative – then turn it around and hit it with positive!

3.  PRAY.  Go to God first.  Share with Him your struggle, your situation, your feelings.  Ask Him to reveal to you His will for your life and ask Him for the strength to operate according to what He wants for you.  Humbly share with Him the areas where you may be wrong in your attitude, motives, and actions.   Thank Him for His unconditional love and share with him the many things you’re grateful for.   Lastly, be patient……..wait on Him.  Continue to ask for His guidance and praise Him while you’re waiting.  REMEMBER:  He has PERFECT timing.

4.  Tap into your ACCOUNTABILITY.  IF you’ve worked the first 3 steps and are STILL feeling the ickiness of your towanda – call upon one of your accountability partners.  Share your struggle and ask for insight.  Be open to hearing something that you may have overlooked.  When we are in the midst of a struggle, when we are angry, upset, or hurting we can easily overlook the characteristics of our ‘towanda’ – outsiders looking in, who are honest, can help uncover things we are not capable of seeing on our own.

That’s it!  These steps ARE working for ME and I am grateful.  Don’t get me wrong, Towanda STILL comes out (my husband and kids will confirm this) and I STILL have issues, BUT now I face them HEAD ON by following these steps.

What I’ve realized, since I’ve been doing this for several months, is that I often don’t get to step 4.  I feel 100% better at step 3.  AND, IF these step are “out of order” my issues can be blown out of proportion, I can add fuel to the fire by telling others my ‘dreadful’ story and be deceived about the reality.  The REALITY??  I need to take an honest look in the mirror FIRST.

Live out LOUD

Summer Break is here but I haven’t had much of a ‘break’ in the area of sleeping in.  For the last week, for a variety of reasons, I’ve had to get up EARLY;  I could REALLY use a morning to wake up without the alarm clock!  YAWN!!

I was driving this morning, at 6:30, heading to my chiropractor appointment; drinking my coffee and listening to the radio.  I heard the phrase “Live out Loud” –  it set my mind racing!!  I formed a question in my mind, what does it mean to live out loud?  I started brainstorming what it means to ME and jotted down a few of my thoughts in my journal.

Living out loud means………..NOT being ashamed of what others think about where I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had.  Being willing to open up and connect with others about life’s struggles.  Sharing where my strength and hope comes from; God and a personal relationship with Christ.  Striving everyday to be a light in the world and to be helpful to others.  Transparency, NO masks and being honest.

THEN I started to wonder how others would answer this?  So, I sent out a “quick question” email from my blackberry to some friends, it said this, “Could you take 2 minutes and answer this question quick?  What would it mean to you to “live out loud” – can you share your thoughts on living out loud? Do you live out loud? How? Thank you so much for your input! Love, Teri”  I LOVE the uniqueness of the responses I got from my friends and family – THANK YOU for contributing,  I truly love and appreciate you ALL!!  Below are their answers, uncensored……

“Living out loud is extremely rewarding! When one of the kids win an award, I’m the mom Cheering out loud while everyone else claps quietly! When I have accomplished a goal, I’m out there encouraging others that they can do the same thing! As a single mother, I bought my first house, celebrated that in the middle of a company meeting! I made a goal to buy a BMW, it took 5and a half years, but as a single mom, I accomplished that! I lived out load by telling everyone who complimented my materialistic automobile that I had that goal for 5 and a half years, and I did it!!!!  I managed a team of 10 salespeople and encouraged them with praise and celebration when they succeeded, loudly! The way I look at the question: do you live out load, I think, YES! I don’t worry about what others think of me…. It’s none of my business! I get up each day to encourage and help mankind! I do it with energy! I do it with a smile! And I do it because I want to!!!!!  ~ KP

“Living out loud to me means to be able to share your life’s passions, goals and beliefs with those around you. I am passionate about kids and instilling in them a love for their families and teaching them about their faith. Living out loud means making connections with others that have the same passions as you and being able to learn and grow from each other.” ~ KMP

“Living out Loud….Waking up every morning and watching the sun rise….Listening to the birds…Seeing the beauty in the world God has put before our eyes…Watching the sunsets…Loving with all your heart and like you’re never going to get hurt…Being there with a gentle heart and caring hands for others…Enjoying every moment and making the most out of every opportunity…Listening with your heart…Loving like there’s no tomorrow…Looking for the positive in everything and everyone…ACCEPTANCE…That to me is Living Out Loud.”   ~ DN

“I immediately think of the song – “wake the neighbors, get the word out, crank up the music….and shout”. So, I first think of “living out loud” and the message of excitement of having a relationship with the Lord and wanting to shout from the rooftops and share the passion I have for God.  I live out “louder” in some areas of my life than others. With some friends/family I speak freely about the love and excitement I have for God. In other areas of life it is more indirect. I try to stand firm in my faith and let the light of God shine out. I think living out loud is living out the Word and what is in your heart and not keeping it inside to yourself. However you can “live out loud” – speaking and sharing the Word, kind actions, patience, tolerance and love.” JE

“Living “Out Loud”. I’ve never thought of it before, but I guess to me it would be living your life as if each day were the most important day. No matter what is on your schedule, you do it to the fullest. Loving life & making the most of it. As a Christian seeing each circumstance or trial as an opportunity to trust the Lord & grow in your faith & finally being ready to share Christ’s love with a testimony or helping hand, taking a stand when you may be the only one “standing” for the truth. Letting your actions, attitudes etc define who you are, with out having to be in your face preachy to someone.”  ~ SMF

“Living out loud is about sharing your love of living with others. Don’t let your happiness stay within you give it away to others! When you are loud with your living and loving it is catchy! Let others catch the fever…..live out loud today and every day!”  ~ KM

“To live out loud means to me living a life with example. To live life out loud is to be seen by others a way of life that your living.  Basically walking the walk and not just talking the talk. That’s how I see it.”  ~ RRS

“I think living out loud means to be bold in your faith…people knowing you’re there being the example Christ set for us.  Working at getting better at this, but don’t feel like I’m fully “living out loud”.”  ~ WL

“Living out loud to me…. what a great question. I guess to me it means sticking to what I believe no matter what! No matter who I am around! I make sure I am who I say I am at all times: I am a daughter to a almighty savior and I try and live every moment for his glory. I am a Christian and a GOD fearing one!!! I want everyone who knows me to know that! I don’t push things on people but I know that everyone who “knows” me, KNOWS this about me. THAT is how I live out loud!!! :) ”  ~ AK

“Live out loud… Letting my heart be apparent from inside out and my actions following my heart by my matching those actions. Something I am working on daily.”  ~DM

WHAT does “living out loud” mean to you?  How would YOU answer this question?

The Yellow Ribbon

I had the opportunity to spend the day watching my boys participate in their all school track and field day.  Of course, if you know me, a few days prior I was worried that it would be really hot and that I would have to figure out how to stay cool with out getting “funky” tan lines, BUT to my pleasant surprise, it was cool, overcast, and dry – a PERFECT day for this special event.

Each class of students from kindergarten through 8th grade wore their class colored t-shirt.  Zane’s was orange and Zachary’s just happened to be PINK.  Yes, pink, not a light pink, but a BRIGHT fuschia-pink.  Believe me, I had a slight battle at home this morning getting my little athlete to put this t-shirt over his head, but eventually he did.  Pink is NOT a color that exists in my boys’ closets and after today I’m pretty sure we will be donating that cute little ‘t’ to one of my friends daughters OR the good will.

There must’ve been a couple hundred people at the track; students, teachers, other school staff members, parents, and grandparents.  Everyone was there to cheer each other on, volunteer, encourage, and support all the participants.  The kids had so much fun and worked really hard at each event – giving it their all!

When the time came at the end of the day to tally up all the scores, times, distances and determine who took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each event, my mind instantly went to the “underdog.”  I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for kids who get left out, who aren’t as “popular”, or get teased.  This kind of reminds me of when I was younger in gym class – when the gym teacher elected 2 captains and had the captains pick the kids THEY wanted on their team.  Do you know what I’m talking about, do you remember?  Frequently, I was one of the last ones picked so this is a vivid memory for me.  I’m over it now, but it has definitely left a tender place in my spirit for others that get picked last or don’t “win.”

At the award ceremony everyone received a purple participation ribbon.  The smiles glowed on the faces of those who were called up individually to receive either a blue 1st place, red 2nd place, or white 3rd place ribbon – they were so proud of their accomplishment.  The older kids seemed to be more competitive, paying close attention to who got what and how many.

The last and final ribbon was YELLOW it was the Good Sportsmanship Ribbon and only 2 were given for each grade, one to a girl and one to a boy.  I was sitting at the table with the 4th grade boys; there are only 6 boys in my sons class, so imagine the competitiveness.  All were anxiously awaiting to hear which 1 of the 6 would get the ONLY yellow ribbon.  The teacher called up the boy who she felt earned this award and spoke briefly as to why he was chosen.  A few of the words she used to describe him were:  positive attitude, encouraging, helpful, joyful.

Zachary’s classmate was proud to be awarded that special ribbon along with his purple participation ribbon.  As he walked back to the table and took his seat, another classmate said something that impressed me, his name is Ryan.  He looked up from his pile of Red, White, and Blue’s and said to me, “The yellow ribbon is really the most important ribbon – it really is.”  I smiled and shook my head, I agreed.

As I drove away from that fun filled day, I got to thinking about life – I know, I seem to be doing a lot of DEEP REFLECTION lately.  But I couldn’t help to think about what Ryan said.  He’s right – it’s about attitude, being positive, encouraging others, helping, and having joy – REGARDLESS if you WIN or LOSE!!  In this “rat race” of life, keeping our sights focused on earning the yellow ribbon is truly what matters…….it’s MOST important.

A Part of my Story

Continued from I Haven’t Got a Clue…….

When I was WILLING, He was able.  I had no idea what throwing my hands up in the air, surrendering my plans, my will, my ideas, my pride, my motives meant or looked like, but I was cooked – DONE and READY to get off the winding road.

Looking back I can see now that God had been preparing me for this specific time.  Several months prior to this He had me stumble across a book through my friend’s sister called Uncommon Woman By Susie Larson.  Just the name of the book struck a cord in my heart – Uncommon Woman, that is what I wanted to be.  I picked up the book in February and devoured it.

Not only once, but twice.  I chewed on every chapter.  I had the passion in my heart to possess the characteristics of the woman described in the book.  But me?  I can’t be that woman, I’m not good enough!  The tapes would play over and over in my mind of all the horrible things that I’d done, the things I’m CURRENTLY doing, the un-pure thoughts I have, the prejudice and judgmental attitudes I stored in my mind – simply put, I am undeserving………look at me, who am I?  You see, I did a really GREAT job in my life accomplishing most of the NEVERS that I vowed I would NEVER do.

In April 2009 I got a call from a dear friend of mine, a mentor friend, a wise woman who I admired, she wanted to have coffee.  We had a chance to catch up and I shared with her the book I had read.  It intrigued her and she asked if I could do a “book club” on the book.  I thought, wow, my THIRD time reading this book, REALLY?  It took me only a brief second to respond, “Ok, I’m in – when do we start?”  We decided that we would meet every Thursday morning and discuss a chapter each week.  I was so excited!

The following week we started.  Before we dug in, my wise friend asked me a profound question.  She said, “What can you give up and surrender in your life over the next few weeks, as we go through this book.  Something that will free your mind and allow you to focus as you read; to really get the most out of what you’re reading?”  As I thought about her question, she shared with me what she was willing to “lay down”.  Then I responded with my answer, “I will lay down alcohol – for the next 12 weeks, I will not drink alcohol.”

I was excited about this commitment, THIS is what I needed – accountability.  In the back of my mind, I had been a little concerned about the amount of alcohol I had been drinking ~ I LOVED LOVED LOVED to unwind at night with a glass of wine.  But the problem was that it wasn’t just one night a week, it was most often seven and it wasn’t just one glass of wine it was most often one bottle (or two).  So, that day, I did two things……..I committed to NOT drink for an extended period of time from the bottom of my heart AND I broke my commitment; that night I drank so much wine that I passed out.

I wore the shirt of shame and the pants of guilt for the next three weeks when I met with my wise friend.  A day didn’t go by that I didn’t have a drink.  She didn’t ask about my commitment and I didn’t tell.  I was dishonest and in fear.  I was fearful of what she would think of me and afraid of what I had discovered.  I was in bondage to alcohol and it was controlling my life.

On the morning of Tuesday May 12th 2009, I set out to accomplish one thing, pick out tile and granite for our home.  The reality of that day is this.  I started drinking by noon and I was passed out, tucked safely into my bed by my husband by 6:00pm.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was to be my last drink (by the grace of God).

I felt physically miserable when I woke up on Wednesday May 13th.  Vowing AGAIN that morning for the millionth time I will NEVER drink again.  I looked in the mirror and hated who I had become, BUT this is when the revelation hit me.  Remember, one week earlier the cry of my heart was God show me what to do, I am nothing without you?  Not only had He been showing me, little by little, but He was preparing me.  Out of curiosity, today, I just looked back to my Facebook status for that day and here’s what I had posted:

May 13th 2009 – Teri Fitch Johnson is I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…….                                                    May 13, 2009 at 4:40pm via Facebook for BlackBerry  · Comment · Like

WOW ~ ONLY God could’ve given me the JOY that I had felt on that day and the strength to do what I had to do the following day.  I had to be honest with my accountability partner, my wise friend who I was doing the “book club” with.  As we sat down to get started discussing our book, I began by saying, “I will never find the freedom that is talked about in this book.”  I started to cry and through my tears I continued, “I have been dishonest with you, I haven’t been able to NOT drink alcohol.  I’ve been drinking since we started and I don’t know what to do.”

We closed our books.  We talked openly and honestly about my struggle.  We discussed options. I made a decision.  I called Hazelden and admitted myself into their impatient treatment facility for alcoholism.  The decision was easy for me to make, but it didn’t come without a thousand mixed feelings.  I was willing and I had handed over the wheel one week prior and prayed for a revelation.  God answered my prayer and all the details fell into place.

Today marks an anniversary for me, 365 days without alcohol – ONLY because of Him!  Yes, I am an alcoholic.  I’ve embraced this asset and have had the privilege to help others who struggle with the same issue.  However, this does not define me.  WHY?  Because I’m made up of hundreds of OTHER imperfections, good qualities, and experiences, this just happens to be one of them.  Through this experience God has revealed to me my true passion and for that I am forever grateful.  I feel that my earnest revelation prayer  that I prayed on May 5th 2009 continues to be answered.  It seems that each day different pieces of this “life puzzle” fall into place as God shines the light on my path and I surrender my will daily (sometimes MANY times throughout the day!)

You have to know that while writing this I’m feeling very vulnerable.  Exposed.  Naked.  One thing we wrote about with Keeping it Personal in Who we are is this, “We want to inspire you to keep it personal in your daily interactions.  Inspire you to look for the moments where you can impact the lives of others around you by sharing your experiences and your story.”  This is my moment and that is why I’m sharing this story.  Maybe, just maybe, this post can impact the life of one person.  Maybe, this post can be shared with another person who has a similar struggle to give them hope.  Maybe, you’re reading this and want to connect with me because you can relate.  Whatever the reason I’m feeling compelled to share……..thy will be done.

Sing It Like It Matters

imagesI had the priviledge of attending my neice’s confirmation today, and I really do mean priviledge. 13 years ago, I stood by her as she was baptized, and I have been blessed to see her grow into a beautiful young lady. But that story is for another time. What I wanted to talk about was the older woman sitting behind us in church.

She was beautiful, gracious, somewhat robust, and maybe even a little hard of hearing. I am sure she was attending the service for her grand, or even great grandchild. The first song for the praise and worship portion of the service was “How Great Thou Art”. LOVE that song. For me it brings back so many memories of childhood, reminds me of the country church I attended, and even of my own grandparents. Now, I am typically the type to tear up at a time like this. We stop for kleenexes on the way into church, knowing what lies ahead. Seriously. My family surrounding me, a special occasion, and to top it off, a iconic song like “How Great Thou Art.” I was expecting a flood.

To my surprise, this kind woman behind me BELTED out:

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder…”

Not quite on tune, I might add.

As the song began, I started to giggle. (Has that ever happened to you? In the most inappropriate times?) I giggle sometimes when I am nervous, and I think that is why I started, hearing this woman sing so loudly, and so terribly off key. But then, I think that giggle turned into a smile when I thought of the depth of life this woman must have experienced. I  am sure there have been sorrows, joys, and celebrations not unlike today. But what struck me was her ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks, I am going to belt it out from my toes’ kind of attitude! Love that!

I feel like I am so inhibited at times, feeling like I need to act a certain way, fit the mold so to speak. I wonder what it has taken for her to get to the point of losing all her inhabitions. Insecurities. Is it simply years? Experiences? Time? Or is it a confidence in knowing who you are, or maybe what is important in life? A knowing that you are a child of God and created in His image, so what do you have to hold back?

Whatever it is, I want it. I want her confidence. Her outward expression of praise. Her uninhibited spirit. I feel like I work toward this state of being, yet continually fall short. Maybe it will take a lifetime to get there—- or maybe it is humanly impossible to really achieve this state of mind. But, at least I’m trying. Regardless, I need to remember the extra message I gained from today’s service. Sing it like it matters.

Email Forward

images-1I am not a big ‘forward’ person when it comes to emails. In fact, I have to admit am guilty of ignoring an occasional forward. This one sat in my inbox for a few days before I finally got around to opening it. I loved it!  I’ve given thought to how I want to live my life as of late, changes I’d like to make- and many of these simple daily suggestions seemed obvious yet a welcome reminder. You know, one of those lists worth printing and hanging on my bathroom mirror. I thought I would pass them along, in hopes to hold myself accountable to them. Maybe one of you will be inspired to simplify your lives by following some or all of these words of wisdom. Many of them remind me of a daily KIP! Let me know what you think.

(By the way, I would site them, but don’t know where this email originated. I’ve also taken the liberty to edit slightly.)

1.  Pray.

2.  Go to bed on time.

3.  Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4.  Say No to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

5.  Delegate tasks to capable others. (Including husband and children!)

6.  Simplify and unclutter your life.

7.  Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8.  Allow extra time to do things and to get to places. (This reminds me of my Grandpa Johnson, RIP!)

9.  Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things all together.

10.  Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it.

11.  Live within your budget; don’t use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

12.  Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

13.  K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

14.  Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

15.  Eat right.

16.  Get organized so everything has its place.

17.  Write down thoughts and inspirations.

18.  Every day, find time to be alone.. REPEAT…every day, FIND time to be alone..

19.  Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to try and pray.

20.  Laugh.

21.  Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

22.  Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).

23.  Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

24.  Sit on your ego.

25.  Talk less; listen more.

26.  Slow down.