Recently a good friend shared a picture with me and wow the flood of memories began. This reminded me to have tremendous respect and admiration for the people who are authentic, people who happily acknowledge their family and cultural roots, and who never forget where they come from. There are many people in the world who have struggled to have a better future, and they have accomplished it by hard work, dedication, sacrifices, and by the help of others. A great number of these people have made it big in business, and in the media and entertainment industries to name a few.

The saddest thing to see is how quick some of these people forget where they come from to a point that they feel ashamed to talk about their past and how they arrived to where they are now. I think this goes beyond sad because such stories can serve as a very valuable tool to encourage other people who have also embarked on a journey to pursue a better future. Why does this happen? What makes these people “forget” where they come from?

When people go through hardships in life, they often become resentful and frustrated for having struggled more than others. Even when they make it big, they are selfish, arrogant, boastful, disrespectful, and so on. It seems that in the way to pursuing a better future, their hearts were hardened by the circumstances they had to endure.

It is understandable that suffering and pain can cause any person to feel the most negative emotions; the difference is in getting over them, particularly when people’s goals have been satisfactorily met. Life is hard, no doubt. Fortunately, we can learn to be better people without forgetting where we come from.

How do you remain true to yourself? Here are five pieces of advice that can be very helpful to you.

Don’t be ashamed of your family and cultural roots: Our world is so diverse that no nationality is better than another. Not having had the best parents, the ideal childhood or the most prestigious academic education is not a reason to feel embarrassed about your life. You are at a better place now than you were yesterday, this is what counts. Do not let other people define who you are because of where you come from. No one has had a perfect family nor has had the perfect cultural and educational experiences.

Acknowledge and share your struggles and accomplishments: This does not imply that you have to dwell on the difficult things that you went through. There’s a difference in acknowledging your struggles and sharing how you overcame them; doing this helps you to continue pressing on and this is also encouraging to others.

Be grateful to the ones who help you: Always recognize the people who help you during your journey. This is not about repaying them what they have done for you, it is about being grateful and showing that you do not take people or things for granted. Do what your heart tells you to do. Having an attitude of gratitude is key in life.

Help others with your resources: Remember the people who’ve helped you and be the kind of person who helps others too. Helping others is rewarding. It is not about the amount of help that you can give, it is about the good disposition that you have to help. You may not have what a certain person needs, though you can lead her to someone who could provide what she needs. You have more resources to help others than you think. It is not always about money.

Be respectful to everyone: Respect is to be extended to every person, it is a human right. Respect people. If you do not agree with what some people believe or say, it is okay, respect them anyway. At the same time, keep healthy boundaries in place. Being disrespectful to disrespectful people is foolish.

Have an accountability group in place: It is very important to have people in your life that you can reach out to for advice and to keep a reality check on how you’re coping with things. Your group may consist of two or more people who you highly trust and confide on. This is extremely essential for you to thrive.

Never forgetting where you come from will keep you grounded and in touch with reality. Embrace your life and the one of those who have helped you to be where you are now.

Chad Willis