A little while ago, someone asked me the question “How can I be the best version of myself? What skills and attitudes does it take?”

So I thought about it. During the times I feel I’ve reached for the best version of me, what qualities have I strived for? What kinds of attributes have I had? I came up with, in no particular order:

– Compassion. It might sound obvious, but compassion is the cornerstone for treating others with dignity and respect.

– Courage. When you’re in a situation where you don’t know the right thing to do, moving in the direction of greatest courage will generally steer you right. It’s hard to be the best version of yourself. Doing many of the things on this list means having the courage to act with integrity when it’s uncomfortable to do so. And speaking of which:

– Integrity. Everyone says integrity is good, but few people have it, because integrity means accepting responsibility for your actions (including your screwups and mistakes!) and being honest with those around you even when being honest means you don’t get what you want.

– Resilience. The world doesn’t always go your way, and that’s okay. Wake up every day believing that even if things don’t go the way you want them to, you can still find a way to be happy.

– Empathy. Other people are real. Like you, they are trying to muddle through this world as best they can. Being human is fundamentally baffling and terrifying, and we’re all trying in the face of uncertainty to get our needs met. Other people’s needs and experiences are just as valid as ours.

– Forgiveness. We are all born of frailty and error. It is incumbent in all of us to forgive reciprocally one another’s follies.

– Confidence. This life is ours to live. It is nearly impossible to be compassionate when we are frightened or insecure. The more we build confidence and self-esteem within ourselves, the more we become proof against life’s slings and arrows, and the easier it becomes to treat others with compassion.

– Kindness, both toward ourselves and others. The more we give other people the benefit of the doubt, the more we assume good intent unless proven otherwise, the easier everything else on this list becomes.

And finally:

– Compassion. Being the best version of yourself begins and ends with compassion.

What do you think? What traits, skills, or qualities make you the best possible version of yourself?

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