Being a Better You

January 7, 2019

     January is chock full of suggestions on how to get rid of extra pounds from the overindulgence of holiday meals, discounted gym memberships and emails from gurus on the most innovative way to become more organized. That’s all well and good, but if you’re one of those habitual resolution-makers-before subjecting yourself to the same routine as last year-how about skipping the fad diets, bypassing the revolving door of the now crowded gym and ignoring those spam emails you keep resolving to delete. What if you decided to do something different that didn’t require sweat, starving and clearing your spam box? Here are a few suggestions.


Remember, you don’t have to be the best. Just be better than you were before.

     Mississippi boasts a growing number of elite runners. I’m fairly certain none of them emerged from their mother’s wombs sprinting down the halls of the labor and delivery ward. It all starts with tiny wiggles and kicks of legs and feet, followed by a slow crawl. Then, a wobbly stand, first steps and after much practice a secure strut. Then maybe a jog-albeit slow in the beginning-that with consistent movement will soon become a run. Being a better you comes about with incremental steps and consistency, just like running. Never discount small beginnings. Be encouraged to begin with tiny changes. The smallest steps lead not only to a better you but the best you, and remember to celebrate each small win.


 Be careful with yourself. 

     Lessons taught in kindergarten about how we should treat others – say thank you, apologize and share – can also be applied to how we treat ourselves. Thank yourself for every effort you put forth. Apologize to yourself for anything you do that leaves you discouraged or disappointed. Share the beauty of who you are with others. Know that when you are careful with yourself, it teaches others how to treat you, too.


Do something new.

     One activity I enjoy immensely is leaping from an indoor trampoline and sliding across a zip line without a helmet to a waiting pit of foam blocks. Heard above all the shouts and screams of a roomful of children are the wails coming from someone who appears too old and too big for an activity like this, which ultimately causes bursts of laughter that leaves parents relegated to their seats staring at me in shock. Sure, I need assistance from an attendant who will have to pull me from the primary colored blocks of foam, but it is one of the most exhilarating pastimes. I don’t relegate myself to the sidelines and neither should you. Book the trip, ride the bike, enjoy an evening of roller skating. New can be frightening, but living with the regret of not having taken a chance is far worse.   


     I will probably choose to sweat a little this year, but I won’t starve, and I’ve already started clearing my spam box. I will also be a better me, do something new and deal carefully with myself. Those are mysteps. Whether you choose to treat yourself more kindly, be a better you, or do something new, the people around you will be better because of it; and so will you.


     Tonja Murphy is an author, consultant and motivational speaker. Throughout Ms. Murphy’s nonprofit career, her work has focused on a holistic approach to strategic development, implementation and outcomes of programs for youth and adults. This work has included the development of an after-school academic and mentoring program for middle and high school-aged children, creating a community of mentors for children with incarcerated parents, and being actively involved with youth ministry efforts at her church. 

     When Ms. Murphy is not serving in the community, she enjoys sharing tools to empower others through books. She will publish her sixth book, Blessed Thirteen: Lessons from a Ladybug, in the Spring of 2019. Her love for writing has laid the path to share on other platforms, as well. In addition to book writing, she is a recurring guest columnist for newspapers and magazines. 

     Ms. Murphy holds a bachelor’s degree in professional interdisciplinary studies, with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences from Jackson State University. She is also a graduate of Leadership Greater Jackson and the Business Advantage for Professionals Program and Advanced Applied Leadership Program at Millsaps College. She can be reached at

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