It is an incredible privilege being a human. I have spoken before about the infinitesimal odds of our existence. I want to remind you, so you know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are very special, that your being alive is no accident and that you are here for a purpose. At that wonderful moment when your life began, the chances of your conception were one in 300 million. That is how many sperm raced off in pursuit of fertilising one solitary egg. Now think about the chances of your parents meeting, and the odds of each of them being born. What about your grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, and so on? Are you getting my drift? You are very special, and you are a human. The secret, I have found, to health, happiness and meaning in life is learning how to be a human.

Whilst we would all acknowledge that we are human beings, I think we often expect from ourselves and others that which goes beyond the capability and capacity of being human. How many times have you beaten yourself up for making a mistake, saying, or doing the wrong thing, putting something off or giving something up? How many times have you been impatient, frustrated, or angry with another person for behaving in a way that you also do? I am talking about myself right now, and just hope it may resonate with you.

I am my own harshest critic, as you probably are of yourself. I regularly beat myself up for not doing something, missing something obvious, saying the wrong thing, or making a choice that, upon reflection, may not have been the best option. Even just this morning, as I was on the phone trying to get my internet restored after two days without it, I was more impatient with the person trying to help me than I should have been. I hung up the phone and gave myself a good talking to. Yesterday, I put off doing something I should’ve done and beat myself up for being lazy. The day before, I sent an email proposal for a corporate program and, just as I hit send, I started doubting how good it was, what I should’ve included and, yet again, I was way too hard on myself. Sound familiar? Stressful, isn’t it? It is exhausting when you doubt, second guess and are unrealistic in your expectation of yourself.

Here is the deal. You and I are not perfect, we are a human. So, being human means that we accept ourselves for who we are, that we are not going to get everything right, that we are doing the best we can and that we are a wonderfully essential part of a family, community, country, and world. Being human also means that, once we accept our own imperfections, we accept and love the imperfections of others. In my blog this week with John Toomey called Bringing back virtue, we speak a lot about the way we treat other people. Have you ever noticed what you excuse and justify in your own behaviour you are critical of in someone else? I used to be consistently running late for meetings. Not over the top late, but 5-10 mins late. I used to justify it by saying things like, I am a busy person, it’s only 5 minutes and no big deal, the traffic was bad, or whatever other rubbish I would come up with. Then, if another person was late to a meeting with me, I would condemn them as being unreliable and disrespecting of my time. Crazy, right?

We treat others badly too often. The way we speak to customer service people, the way we drive, what we expect of others that we justify in ourselves, what we expect others to do for us that we don’t do for them and many other little things we don’t even consider. There is something so powerful about kindness, giving, complimenting, and encouraging others that helps us feel better about ourselves and makes the other persons day. I wrote a blog about my birthday last September, when I spent the day doing random acts of kindness for people. It is a birthday I will always remember, far more than any other. Why not try it today? Make someone smile, send someone a loving or encouraging message, compliment the person at the checkout, give someone a helping hand or a word of encouragement and then see how you feel.

This is what being human is all about, because like you, people are doing the best they can. In fact, the people that we often treat poorly are doing things we surely don’t want to do ourselves like emptying our bins, cleaning our homes or offices, fixing our plumbing, getting us connected to the internet again, serving our food and drinks or any other myriad of things. These people need to know how good a job they are doing and how they are making your life easier and better. So, today – not tomorrow – start really being human, by being kinder to yourself and others. Why? Because at the end of the day we are all imperfect human beings, and so let’s go out and spend our life being humans.