5 Signs You are DONE being an ASSHOLE

We all go through that phase of life when we completely suck.  We aren't there for the people who matter most.  We take for granted the generosity and compassion of people who refuse to see us for the asshole we are. We are selfish and can't completely comprehend how lonely we are. Some people grow out of this phase faster than others, some are stuck here for the whole of their adult lives (unfortunate). 

Here are FIVE concrete ways to recognize that you have left this horrible part of your life behind and you are ready to be a real human again.

1. You start to realize that your actions effect more humans than just yourself. This is a pretty big one.  I've met a lot of people who never fully embrace this important concept. Yes.  It is true that you are the only person who will truly be exclusively on your team.  That, however, does NOT give you clearance to act recklessly, tearing down anyone in your path so that you can reach the top. Remember that you do not live in isolation.  Your actions directly effect your environment. Live in a way that takes into account the effect of your choices on other people. These can be big players in your life like your children, significant other, parents, boss, or smaller players like the barista, the front desk staff at your gym, the person next to you on the train. 

2. When you hurt people, you actually feel bad.  Partly because we are all connected, partly because you are done being an asshole, when you see people who are hurting, especially if you played a role in their pain, you feel bad.  It's probably a combination of guilt, empathy, disappointment in your self; it is a sign that YOU HAVE A HEART.  You no longer are able to watch others suffer and turn away unaffected.  You have a desire to spread good in the world.

3. Happiness matters more than status. Happiness and status are not synonyms?  Shocker.  There are many benefits to living in the place and time that we do.  But one of the greatest tragedies of our time is that we are obsessed with who were appear to be.  We fixate on being "the best" or "most successful" and equate that with collecting things and accolades that lose their shimmer after a while.  Happiness does not arrive once you have climbed a certain ladder.  Happiness is revealed through interpersonal relationships, through actions of kindness and compassion.  This is not to deter you from having dreams and goals.  This is to serve as a reminder that when you do reach whatever heights you were trying to climb to,  the thing that makes the view worth it is having people to share it with. 

4.  You have this feeling more frequently that helping people is a thing you should do often.  Studies have been done on the effect of acts of kindness and generosity on the brain. Specifically, when engaging in altruistic behavior, there is an increase in vagal tone.  What makes vagal tone so important?  Well, the vagus is the longest nerve in the body and innervates every organ in the body including the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. Tied closely with parasympathetic response, the vagus manages efficiency in things like heart rate changes, aka heart rate variability.  Higher variability and stronger vagal tone is linked with stronger cardiovascular health. Not only does doing good make you feel good, it actually impacts your body physically.  How cool is that?!

5. People have stopped calling you an asshole.  The key of all keys.  Not that you should rely solely on other people's opinion of you, but if people have stopped calling you an asshole, to your face or behind your back, it is pretty safe to say that you have stopped exhibiting asshole behavior.

Congratulations! You are now not an asshole.  Go out and show the world your shiny new non-asshole self.