11 signs you’re a better person than you were 5 years ago

When Facebook launched its Memories feature some years ago, I found it a welcome addition. 

You know why? Because it’s always fun to do a little lookback! 

Okay, maybe fun is not the right word, especially if the lookbacks inspire nothing but cringe and embarrassment for the random posts you used to do. At least, that’s how I felt looking through my old stuff. 

Be that as it may, I think it’s a good sign that you feel that way. Because it means, you’re a way better person today! 

But you don’t need social media to tell you that; you can spot that change in many other ways. 

Here are 11 subtle yet profound signs that show just how far you’ve come: 

1) You’re no longer judgmental

The other day, I got to talking about books with an old friend I recently reconnected with. She mentioned that her favorite book was Twilight. I simply nodded and we went on talking about other books. 

Now, to anyone watching us, it would’ve looked like just another ordinary conversation. But inside me, I knew it was a landmark moment. Why? Because it hit me just how different my reaction was. 

The me five years ago would have said a lot of derogatory remarks about how horrible that series was and would’ve written her off as someone I didn’t want to know, simply because of her book choices. 

Yes, I was judgmental like that. (Heck, when I was even younger, I’d refuse to date guys with scruffy shoes!)

My point is, you’ll know you’ve grown up and become more mature when you find yourself being more gracious with people. 

When you no longer cast judgment on them and understand that there’s more to them than meets the eye, you’re definitely a better person than you were five years ago.  

2) You don’t care as much about what people say

In the same way, you’ve become open-minded and confident enough to not care so much about other people’s opinions. 

For me, this is one of the best things about growing older. The older I get, the less I care about keeping up, about milestones, about “should-haves by age X”…

Five years ago, I was still people-pleasing, still adjusting to and accommodating whatever people expected of me. 

Today, I’m much more discerning. I’ve realized that not everything deserves my attention and my energy. 

That if I want to live the fullest life I can live, I need to follow what my heart really says, regardless of what everybody else thinks. 

Which brings me to my next point…

3) You’ve got stronger boundaries

Knowing what deserves your attention and energy means you’ve done the inner work. You’ve figured out which aspects of your life you want to keep and which ones need to  go. 

Look at the old you five years ago. Could you say “no” firmly whenever it was called for? Could you put your foot down and tell a toxic person, “This is unacceptable”? 

If those were issues you used to have but no longer do, then that’s great! It means you’ve taken better control of your life and that you no longer settle for anything less than you deserve. 

4) You’re more patient 

That said, even while you’ve become more assertive, you’ve also become more patient. 

The old me would lash out if my order at a restaurant took too long to arrive. When I wanted my husband to change a habit that didn’t sit well with me, I’d barely give him enough time to address it before I started nagging again. 

These days, it takes a lot more to ruffle my feathers. Like I said, I’ve learned how to be less judgmental and be more choosy about what to spend energy on. 

So, a natural consequence of that is that I’ve learned how to manage my emotions better

Does that sound familiar to you? Then you know what that means – you’re a better person than you were five years ago.

5) You get less stressed

Speaking of emotional management, you’ve probably noticed that you’ve also become better at dealing with stress. 

I guess this is the end result of all those life skills I’ve mentioned above. Stronger boundaries, better energy distribution, better emotional management…all of those add up to a life that feels so much less stressful than it used to be. 

That’s not surprising – stress relief and happiness are strongly linked together

This means that when you feel less stressed, you feel happier. The happier you are, the more emotional bandwidth you have to be a better person

6) You’re more disciplined

Remember when you’d reach for a bag of chips every time you were stressed? Or you’d purchase an expensive bag to make yourself feel better? Or maybe you used to go out drinking on a weeknight then go to work hungover the next day? 

I say “remember” because in all likelihood, impulsive behavior feels more like a thing you used to do, not compatible at all with who you are today. Today, you’ve got a lot more capacity for self-discipline.

The great thing about being disciplined is that it’s reflective of the order you have within you. Of the commitment you have to being a better person

For one, it shows you have goals (responsible adulthood, yay!). Which then reflects that you have a sense of purpose. 

And two, it shows you’re free. Many people don’t equate self-discipline with freedom, but that’s exactly what you get when you’re focused and working hard (as long as there’s a balance). 

Being disciplined gives you freedom because you learn how to choose what’s good for you, and ultimately, this gets you to where you want to be.   

7) You’re taking better care of yourself

Naturally, the more self-disciplined you are, the more you’re doing in the way of self-care

That might sound like a contradiction – doesn’t being a better person mean being more generous and caring to other people? What does self-care have to do with that? 

One word – everything. 

You can’t give what you don’t have. It’s that simple. How can you be more loving and patient if you’re running on empty? I know that I’m at my absolute worst when I’ve been neglecting myself. 

8) You listen more

This is another thing I’ve noticed in myself the older I get. I’m not saying I always interrupted people, but often, I’d listen to reply. 

By that, I mean that I would appear to be listening, but in my mind, I’d be thinking of what to say next. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t really listening. 

You might be a better listener than that today. Maybe you no longer just wait for your turn to speak, but you’re now all ears in the truest sense of the word. 

If so, then that, right off the bat, makes you a better person than you were five years ago. Because listening is such a powerful skill

It creates stronger and deeper connections because you’re genuinely interested and wanting to understand. 

I’m willing to bet that the conversations you have now feel so much more meaningful than they used to be.

9) You can apologize for your mistakes

Oh, this one’s huge. Monumental. A change that I’m sure everyone around you appreciates. 

Owning up to our mistakes is tough, isn’t it? The old you might have reacted defensively or maybe you’d even look around for someone else to blame (something I’ve been guilty of). 

But today, somehow, apologizing feels easier. You’ve been picking up a ton of life lessons along the way, of which one of the most important is shedding your ego. 

And believe me, that’s no small feat. The ego is powerful. It holds us back and keeps us locked in a cycle of denial and stubbornness. It takes a lot of maturity to overcome it. 

The fact that you can do that is a testament to how much you’ve grown as a person. To how compassionate you are now

And most importantly, how you’ve learned one of life’s most important lessons – that relationships are more important than pride. 

Not only that, but you’ve now also come to this mature realization…

10) You know you don’t know everything

Isn’t it strange? When we were younger, we thought we knew everything. Folly of the youth and all that. 

But as we grow older, the more it hits us that, yeah, we don’t know everything. In fact, we don’t know a lot! 

Why then does this mean we’re better people for it? 

Because it shows humility and open-mindedness. In short, we become more empathetic.

11) You’re more grateful and mindful

Five years ago, to be honest, I was quite the angry person. I felt stuck in a rut and listless, and quite mad that my life didn’t go the way I’d hoped. 

But then the pandemic happened and despite all the sorrow it brought with it, it did teach me one thing – to be grateful and mindful. 

I suppose the prospect of death has a way of doing that. All of a sudden, all the little things that used to annoy us don’t matter. All of a sudden, the awareness that our time on earth is limited has made us notice the good stuff. 

I wonder why it took a pandemic to teach me that (maybe because I’m a stubborn person with such high expectations). But this is also what psychologists and researchers have been saying all along.

Gratitude (which requires mindfulness) turns our perspective around. We begin seeing life from an abundant mindset instead of scarcity. 

Are you more grateful today than you were five years ago? If yes, then you’ve already grown in leaps and bounds. 

Because it means you no longer take anything for granted. You’re more present, and you have stronger and more positive relationships. And you always have hope in your heart.

If that’s not being a better person, then I don’t know what is!

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