I grew up with the belief that being a good person is something we should all strive to be.
It always made sense to me that we should be honest and treat other people kindly, after all, that’s what we’d like, isn’t it?
The simple truth is that if you want to be good, it’s really not that difficult.
Here are 18 ways to be a good person without trying too hard:
1) Be honest
Start with being honest.
Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that you should never tell white lies to spare someone’s feelings. I actually think that being honest no matter what can be unnecessarily cruel.
For example, if your friend who is sensitive about her weight asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?” you’ll tell her “No, you look really nice in that dress.” Telling a white lie to spare her feelings is what a good friend does.
So what do I mean when I mention honesty?
I mean that you should not lie, cheat, and deceive other people for your own personal gain.
And when you think about it, it’s really not that hard to be honest. All you have to do is tell the truth.
Easier than making up lies, right?
2) Treat others the way you want to be treated
The world would be a much nicer place if everyone would just treat each other the way they’d like to be treated themselves.
So why is it that so many people treat other people horribly?
I think that what it all comes down to is the fact that a lot of people believe that they are better than others and that that gives them the right to treat others like s**t.
But if you think about it, we’re all just a bunch of cells in an ever-expanding universe, irrespective of our sex, race, education, or socio-political background.
3) Practice compassion
This means showing concern for other people when they’re in pain or going through a rough time.
For example, if you see someone crying on the street, don’t just walk by and pretend that you didn’t see anything.
Stop and ask the person if they’re alright.
See if you can be of any assistance. Maybe they’ll ask for your help, or maybe they’ll tell you to leave them alone. And that’s ok.
Your responsibility as a good and compassionate human being is to recognize other people’s suffering and to ease it if you can.
4) Show humility
No matter how clever, rich, successful, or great you are at doing something, if you want to be a good person, then you need to show some humility.
Don’t boast. Don’t be overly proud.
Recognize that you too have flaws and aren’t perfect.
You don’t have all the answers and you too make mistakes, so don’t go around acting like you’re better than everyone else.
5) Be selfless
Give without expecting anything in return.
It’s not all about quid pro quo, sometimes you just do something nice for someone for the sake of making them happy or helping them out.
Being a good and selfless person means putting other people’s needs before your own.
It’s really not that hard to do, and once you’ve done it, you’ll see how great it feels.
6) Show gratitude
Showing gratitude is all about taking note of all the good things in your life and being thankful.
Now, things may not be perfect and you may have quite a few problems to sort out, but trust me, things can always be worse.
So try to take a couple of minutes each day to make a mental note of what you’re grateful for. For example:
- Having a roof over your head
- Food on the table
- Clothes on your back
- A loving family
- Loyal friends
And it’s not just the big stuff, you can also be grateful for the little things like:
- A beautiful sunset
- Your cat purring in your lap
- A luscious piece of cake
- First snow
7) Be tolerant
Tolerance is often overlooked but I think that it’s what makes a truly good person.
Being tolerant means accepting other people’s opinions and ways of life – even when they’re different from your own.
For example, you may not approve of a girl that wears extremely short skirts, or of a girl who covers herself up completely. But if you want to be tolerant, you need to accept their right to choose.
You can wear what you like and so you should let them wear what they like.
8) Give back
Whether it’s helping your grandparents do their groceries, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or sponsoring a dog in a shelter, giving back is a great way to be a good person without trying too hard.
I’m not saying that it’s going to be completely effortless, but it’s worth it.
9) Live your life with integrity
People with integrity strive to be their best selves and to make choices that align with their values.
Sometimes this means not getting what they want, but at least they can sleep with a sound conscience knowing that they haven’t compromised their values.
10) Be generous
Here’s how you can be generous:
- Don’t split the bill, buy your friend coffee and cake.
- Don’t look at how much money someone spent on your gift so that you can spend the same amount on theirs – be generous.
But that’s not all. Being generous isn’t just about money. You can also be generous with your time and with your words.
- Have lunch with your parents more often.
- Sit down to help your child with their homework.
- Exchange a few kind words with your butcher.
Life is too short not to be more giving.
11) Help others
We should all strive to help others when we can. It all goes back to what I said earlier about treating others the way you want to be treated.
We all need help from time to time, whether it’s to get up when we fall or to have someone to listen to our troubles, it’s nice to have someone when we need them.
Even when you’re not in a position to do something big, you can still help people in small ways.
The other day my grandma couldn’t stop talking about a young man who helped her get a cab. You may think that calling a cab for an old lady is no big deal, but it actually made her day!
You need to let go of any old grudges you’re holding and forgive the people that have wronged you.
And even if they haven’t asked for your forgiveness, be the bigger person and forgive them anyway.
The best part is that not only will it make you a good person, but letting go of the negative feelings and the anger will be good for your psychological well-being.
13) Be open-minded
It’s all about being open to change.
You need to be willing to learn new things and allow new information to change old beliefs.
Open-mindedness is about being curious, willing to hear different opinions, and considering things from a new perspective – and all this without judgment.
It also means being flexible and open to changing your point of view.
14) Speak out against injustice
If you see some kind of injustice, don’t just stand by silently.
Don’t turn your head away and pretend that you didn’t see anything.
Don’t hurry on by telling yourself that you can’t do anything.
If you want to be a good person, then you have to speak out. Imagine all the horrible things that are going on in the world right now. So many of them take place because everyone just stands by and lets them happen.
15) Don’t gossip
This one is very easy.
All you have to do is avoid gossip.
- Don’t speak badly about other people, no matter how little you like them.
- Don’t spread rumors.
- If you find yourself in the company of people gossiping, don’t take part. Instead, try to stir the conversation in another direction.
While gossiping is part of human nature, it’s a very ugly trait and we should strive to do better.
16) Celebrate other people’s success
Be happy when someone else does well.
Don’t compare yourself to them.
Don’t get jealous and bitter because they’ve done better than you. I
instead, be happy for them. Recognize the effort they’ve put in and be happy for them.
Just because someone else is successful, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be too.
17) Take responsibility for your actions
Another way to be a good person is to take responsibility for your actions. This means learning from your mistakes and accepting the consequences.
18) Be reliable and trustworthy
When you say that you’re going to do something, do it.
When you give your word, stick to it.
It’s easy for people to say they’ll do something and then change their minds at the last minute because it’s inconvenient, but it takes a good person to go through with a promise no matter what.