We all like to think that we are good people. In our minds, we do things because they are good. No one ever purposefully goes out their way to harm or hurt people. Well, some people do. And we have a name for those people – arseholes. But back on track! We all like to think we are good people.
Psychologists have identified 6 characteristics or traits to define if someone is a good person – you know, to their core, good. Think about yourself – you would generally agree that you aren’t a horrible person, you are cool to be around and you may even be down right delightful! And who is anyone else to tell you that you’re wrong? In this day and age, we are under the spell of “You-do-you” and nothing is wrong or bad about you because, well, “that’s just me – lump it or leave it”. Yet, in days gone past, friends were the first to tell you if you were in danger of becoming an arsehole, and you loved them for that. They didn’t do it in a mean way, least they become an arsehole too, but in a caring way. Definitely not blasting it out all over Facebook…
Right, onto these traits! Because the internet loves numbered lists!
Good people help others. They do this selflessly, without wanting anything for it. They do it because they care for the other person’s wellbeing. They will help someone weather friend, family, stranger, colleague, etc. In todays busy life, in which you have seven things to do before breakfast, its hard to help someone. We all know this. But it doesn’t stop that from being an excuse. Or offence. This is a can of really big worms! If you help someone, these days they are more likely to get offended. Who knows why. It has just become the basic response for some people.
Empathy is not only being able to understand what a person is feeling, but also understanding the actions stemming from emotions. Being honest, I have no idea what it is like to go to war, yet I can feel for the people that do. I can understand that they are not the same person when they get back because of that experience. This is being empathetic. A good person not only feels for others, but can understand the emotions behind certain actions. Its become so easy to look down at people, behind our keyboards, and condemn them for their actions. Its much harder to empathize with them to gain an understanding of the situation. Just look at YouTube comments…
Good people take responsibility for their life. This goes far beyond making sure they have a job and contribute to society. This dives into the whole idea of “its just a job” or “its all so-and-so’s fault that I can’t do…” Take responsibility of your actions, of your thoughts, of your life. Its no one’s fault but your own for all the choices you made. If you decide to take too many sick days because you cant even, when you get let go, its not the employer to blame. If you decide to stop looking after your health and get swamped by medical bills, its not the fast food places’ fault. If you decide its fun to be the troll to your friend group, whos problem will it be when you have no one to count on? Take responsibility for your life. Its your life. No one else’s. Why waste it.
Honesty really is the best policy. But not only to others. Be honest with yourself. Story time: I have a shoulder injury, and its getting me down. So I don’t go to gym as much as I need to for the amount of food I consume. I can feel I am becoming unfit and unskinny. I am honest about my situation, and so the solution becomes apparent. I should take responsibility for my solution, and it will lead me to being able to help others more. Be honest with everyone as well. And no, not in the arsehole way. In the empathetic way.
This has caused a lot of discussion. What is fair? By being fair to someone aren’t you being fair to someone else? When Jesus chased all the money lenders and merchants out of the Temple, was he being fair to the tradesmen just trying to make a living to look after their family? Fairness is a tough one. Its supposed to be free from bias or self-gain. And that, dear reader, is hard. For anyone. We want fairness in life, but only when it benefits us. We want fairness in other people’s lives but only if we can gossip about it afterwards. We need to step away, remove ourselves from the equation, and then try be fair. Even then, its still hard. I mean, have you ever tried dividing some yummy chocolate cake for people?
This is not the type of humbleness where you’re fake shy of your accomplishments or bashful. No. This is where you are honest about your flaws, to yourself and to others. Knowing what you are bad at, and making peace with it, helps you become a good person. How, you ask? Well if you know you aren’t good at something, when that big project from work comes around, you will know how much of it you can do and where you’ll need help. Everyone has flaws, no one is good at everything. Knowing when you need someone else gives them value and purpose. Its not inviting a person to come laugh at your flaws, its giving someone an opportunity to shine. And when you give someone else purpose, you are being a good person.
Its easy to look at the list and think you are not a good person, but, no one can be all things all at once. Sometimes we are helping those in need because we feel empathy for them. Sometimes we are honest and fair with others (or even ourselves) but take no responsibility for it. Life is not a straight line, a bunch of tick boxes, a form to fill in. Its water – it flows, it bends, it carves. And with enough time, even shapes.
So are you a good person? Of course you are! As long as you continue to strive for having these traits. After all, being a good person is about improving yourself.