9 signs you’re genuinely a good person, according to psychology

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Being a good person is more than just doing kind deeds. It’s about having a certain set of traits that are inherently good, according to psychology.

Psychologists agree that genuine goodness comes from within and is reflected in your actions, behaviors, and how you treat others.

But how do you know if you truly fit the bill?

Well, there are some telltale signs that indicate you’re genuinely a good person. And the interesting thing is, these signs are not always as obvious as you might think.

In this article, we’ll explore the 9 psychological indicators that you’re authentically good-hearted.

So, let’s dive right in and see if you check off these boxes!

1) Empathy rules your world

Empathy is the skill to not only understand but also feel the emotions of others.

It’s like seeing with someone else’s eyes, listening with their ears, and feeling with their heart, as Alfred Adler, a notable psychologist, beautifully puts it​​.

This ability allows good people to be highly attuned to the emotions around them, enabling them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes genuinely.

But there’s more to empathy than just understanding; it’s about responding in a helpful and compassionate way.

Empathy doesn’t mean you have to solve all problems, but it involves being genuinely happy for others when they succeed and sympathetic during their tough times.

This reaction of kindness and compassion is what truly sets empathetic people apart.

If you often find yourself feeling empathy for others, that’s a big plus in your “good person” checklist.

It’s about connecting with others on a deeper level, sharing in their joys and sorrows, and responding with warmth and understanding.

2) You’re not judgmental

Being non-judgemental is another key sign of a good person. It’s all about accepting people for who they are, without making snap judgments or jumping to conclusions.

It’s easy to form snap judgments based on these outward expressions. However, being non-judgmental means choosing to understand and know the person beyond these surface-level aspects.

As Marshall Rosenberg, a renowned psychologist, points out, every judgment or criticism is actually an expression of an unmet need​​.

This perspective helps us see that being non-judgmental isn’t just about withholding negative thoughts; it’s about understanding and addressing the underlying needs and emotions.

Walt Whitman, though not a psychologist, aptly captures the essence of this trait in his simple yet profound advice: “Be curious, not judgmental”​​.

This mindset encourages us to approach people with an open heart and mind, ready to learn about their unique experiences and perspectives.

When you meet someone new, and you’re able to suspend your judgment, accepting them with all their quirks, it’s a sign of being a genuinely good person.

It’s about appreciating the diversity of human character and valuing others for their individuality. 

3) Honesty is your policy

Honesty is another mark of a genuinely good person. It’s about being truthful in your interactions with others, even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult.

Honest people value integrity and take responsibility for their actions. They don’t resort to lies or deceit, even if it would make things easier for them in the short term.

Research supports the positive impact of honesty on personal well-being and relationships.

A 2021 study involving 693 participants found that those who practiced honesty exhibited higher levels of self-control and life satisfaction.

Furthermore, these individuals were more likely to have a robust social support system, compared to less honest counterparts​​.

This indicates that honesty not only enhances personal well-being but also strengthens social connections.

So if you pride yourself on truthfulness and integrity, you’re likely on the right track to being a genuinely good person.

4) You’re generous with your time

Generosity is often associated with giving money or items, but it also applies to how you spend your time. Truly good people are generous with their time, often going out of their way to help others.

Whether it’s volunteering at a local charity, helping a friend move house, or simply lending an ear when someone needs to talk, spending your time helping others is a clear sign of genuine goodness.

Good people understand that time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give. Because once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

Dalai Lama says it best:

“Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.” 

If you’re someone who’s always there for others, willing to give your time selflessly, you’re showing one of the strongest signs of being a genuinely good person.

5) You’re consistent

Consistency is another key sign of a genuinely good person. It’s about being reliable and stable in your behavior, values, and beliefs.

Truly good people are consistent in their actions. They don’t act one way in certain situations and then completely different in another. Their goodness is not an act put on for show, but rather it is a part of who they are.

Stephen Covey, an influential American educator, author, and businessman known for his work on personal effectiveness, stated: “Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character”​​.

This quote highlights the importance of consistent habits in shaping and expressing one’s character.

Being consistent also means following through on your promises and commitments. When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. You’re dependable, and people know they can count on you.

If you’re someone who sticks to their word and maintains consistent behavior, that’s a strong indicator of your genuine goodness.

6) You express gratitude regularly

Expressing gratitude is a sign of a genuinely good person. It’s all about acknowledging the good things in life and recognizing the efforts of others.

Good people don’t take things for granted. They appreciate the little things, the everyday miracles, and the kindness of others. They say thank you often and mean it.

Tal Ben-Shahar, an author and lecturer who specializes in positive psychology, said, “When you appreciate the good, the good appreciates”​​.

This quote emphasizes the idea that recognizing and appreciating the positive aspects in life can lead to an increase in those positive aspects.

But it’s not just about expressing gratitude to others. It’s also about being grateful for your own life, for your successes and even your failures.

Feeling grateful for what you have can make you happier and more satisfied with life.

If you find yourself naturally saying thank you, feeling grateful for the blessings in your life, and appreciating those around you, that’s a heartfelt sign of a truly good person.

7) You’re forgiving

Forgiveness is a trait that genuinely good people often possess. It’s about letting go of past wrongs, not holding grudges, and moving forward with positivity.

To be honest, this is one area I had to work on myself. There was a time when I held onto grudges, letting past wrongs cloud my present and future. It was draining and it never made me feel better.

But over time, I realized that forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s about me. It’s about freeing myself from the burden of resentment and allowing myself to heal.

Since then, I’ve learned to forgive more easily. It doesn’t mean forgetting or condoning the wrong done, but rather choosing to let go of the negativity associated with it.

Cherie Carter-Scott, a motivational speaker and life coach, notes the transformative power of forgiveness: “Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were”​

If you’re someone who can forgive and move forward without holding onto resentment, it’s a strong indicator that you’re genuinely a good person.

8) You value relationships over material things

Genuinely good people often place more value on relationships and experiences than material possessions. They understand that it’s not the things we have, but the connections we make that truly enrich our lives.

Truly good people appreciate the value of a shared experience or a deep conversation over the latest gadget or luxury item. They prioritize spending time with loved ones and building meaningful relationships.

Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson​ puts it well:

“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.” 

If you find yourself more interested in people than possessions, cherishing the moments you share with others more than the things you own, that’s a clear sign of a genuinely good person.

9) You strive to be better

The most important sign of a genuinely good person is the continuous strive for self-improvement. It’s not about being perfect, but rather acknowledging your flaws and working to become a better person each day.

Genuinely good people are aware that no one is perfect, including themselves. They recognize their weaknesses and work on them, not to impress others, but because they want to improve.

The desire to grow, learn, and become the best version of yourself is the most telling sign of a genuinely good person. If you’re constantly striving to be better, you’re undoubtedly on the right path.

Michael R Edelstein Ph.D. in Psychology Today says it particularly well:

“Have a goal of consistent self-improvement. Recognize no person is perfect. We all make mistakes that we can enthusiastically learn from. Foster and maintain a commitment to excellence in important all areas. Seek out opportunities to improve. Recognize learning is a lifelong process. As part of being an excellent human, attempt to inspire others to bring the best version of themselves forward”​

Reflecting on goodness

Delving into the realm of psychology, we’ve explored signs that indicate a genuinely good person. These traits, however, are not just badges to wear proudly. They represent an inner state of being that reflects our human capacity for kindness, empathy, and integrity.

The journey of self-improvement is ongoing. Every day presents an opportunity to nurture these traits within ourselves, to strive towards being a better version of ourselves.

Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, “What a man can be, he must be.” This speaks to our inherent potential for goodness and the fulfilling sense of purpose that comes with it.

As you navigate through life, remember that being a good person is not about perfection, but progress. It’s about recognizing our flaws, owning them, and working towards becoming the best we can be.

So take a moment to reflect. Where do you see yourself on this journey? Which traits do you embody and which ones do you strive towards?

And most importantly, remember that goodness begins from within. It’s a journey that starts with you.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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