The 10 essential ingredients for being a good person

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We all grow up wanting to be a “good person” but it can be easy to forget what really constitutes goodness. 

It’s not about being nice. It’s not about protecting people’s feelings. 

Being a good person is tougher than we like to admit! 

But in this article, I’m going to share 10 essential ingredients for being a good person that we could ALL do well to remember:

1) Treat people how you’d like to be treated 

For this, you’ll need: Half a jug of kindness 

While the saying might be an oldie, it never goes out of style. Treating other people how you wish to be treated is the number one rule for being a good person…

So how can you do this daily?

I personally try to take a minute before reacting to a situation. Take the other day:

A man had blocked my car in with his van, and I was late for an appointment. I waited around, honked the horn a few times, and he finally emerged. 

I was ready to unleash my well-prepared speech of annoyance until I saw his frazzled expression and drooped shoulders. 

I realized this poor guy wasn’t having a good day. I aborted the mission “shout at van man” and instead, gave him a smile and nod as I drove off. 

In that situation, I’d want to be treated with kindness, even if I had inconvenienced someone for a few minutes…

The truth is:

We never really know what people are going through. And if we can take a minute to be kind and measure our reactions, the world would certainly be a better place!

2) Be truthful always 

For this, you’ll need: A dollop of honesty 

Since we’re on the subject, I’ll be honest; being a good person isn’t always easy.

Honesty hurts. 

When you need to tell your friend that they’re making a bad choice marrying their deadbeat boyfriend, you’ll probably face some backlash.

When you tell a chef his food isn’t good enough to be served at your wedding reception, you’ll go home feeling like crap. 

But this is where tact comes into the mix.

 You can be honest without being rude. 

And who knows? Maybe your friend will open her eyes and ditch her miserable boyfriend for someone who truly loves her…

Maybe that chef will take on board your honesty, hone his skills further and come back a stronger contender in his industry.

So, if you want to be a truly good person who evokes positive changes in people, a good dose of honesty is essential. Just try to do it kindly! 

3) Be open to other people’s opinions and ways of life

For this, you’ll need: A generous handful of respect 

Most of us live in mixed communities with different faiths and ethnicities living side by side. Even if you don’t, chances are your neighbor supports a different political party or your friend a different football club. 

Whatever the differences, a key ingredient of being a good person is being respectful to others. 

This means:

  • Keeping an open mind 
  • Accepting that not everyone will think/feel the same way as you 
  • Being polite even if you don’t agree with someone’s beliefs 
  • Being open to civilized and calm discussion 

You see, when you respect other people you’re essentially making them feel valued and heard. 

You also allow yourself to learn new things and be exposed to different types of people. This is important for your own personal growth and development, and it also fosters good relationships with others!

But there’s something else that’s equally as important, and it’s the ability to:

4) Put yourself in the shoes of others 

For this, you’ll need: Heaps and heaps of empathy

Ah, empathy. Without it, the world would be a terrible place! And it is so very important to being a good person.

Empathy is the ability to understand how other people are feeling, even if you’ve never been in their situation before. 

So, how can you increase your empathy levels? 

  • Be present and focused when someone is talking to you
  • Listen actively and avoid interrupting (we’ll cover this in more detail further down in the article)
  • Imagine yourself in their position and how you’d feel 
  • Acknowledge what the other person is going through and offer sympathy, or help if possible

The truth is, when you practice empathy daily, you’ll realize how much you connect with people on a deeper level. 

And by doing this, you’ll be on your way to being a good person and an even better friend – after all, we all need an empathetic shoulder to lean on from time to time! 

5) Hold your hands up when you make a mistake 

For this, you’ll need: A few dashes of responsibility

Do you hold yourself accountable? 

When you mess up, do you hold your hands up and own your mistakes? 

If so, you’re probably a good person without even realizing it…

You see, taking responsibility for yourself is essential – when you take ownership over your actions, you maintain the respect of others, and this allows you to grow as a person. 

The undeniable truth is that we’re all humans and we’ll all mess up sometimes. 

But it’s far better to learn from your mistakes than pass the blame onto someone else. 

This leads me to my next point…

6) Do the right thing, even when it’s tough 

For this, you’ll need: A couple of drops of integrity 

I say a couple of drops, but actually the more integrity the better! 

Integrity is a trait slowly being lost in the world. So much so, when we see a human standing up for justice or fighting for what’s right, we all happily exclaim, “faith in humanity = restored!”

But if everyone lived with a bit more integrity, we wouldn’t need to have our faith in humankind boosted by 5-minute clips on the internet!

So, how to increase your levels of integrity? 

  • Stand up for what’s right, even if it’s not the popular option 
  • Be fair and just to everyone you meet 
  • Be honest and sincere in your actions 
  • Be consistent and follow through with your commitments 

You see what I mean?

Being a good person isn’t easy. You’ll face challenges and some people still won’t like you. But there’s a big difference between being “nice” and popular, and being “good”. 

The world needs “good” right now.

7) Support those in need 

For this, you’ll need: A big spoonful of generosity 

By supporting those around you, you’re required to be generous with not just your money, but your:

  • Time 
  • Patience 
  • Resources 
  • Wisdom 
  • Kindness 

One of the most fundamental aspects of being a good person is helping others. 

If we didn’t do this, if we lived completely individualistic lifestyles, never considering anyone else, the world would be a very cruel place to live in.

So to be a good person, practice injecting a spoonful of generosity whenever you meet someone who could benefit from your time or advice. 

Often, a little goes a long way!

8) Be a good listener

For this, you’ll need: A pinch of patience  

I mentioned having patience above when helping others…the truth is, to really make a difference in the lives of others and be a good person, you need to have good listening skills. 

And this requires patience. 

Here’s how to be a good listener:

  • Give them your full attention (put your phone on silent and turn off the TV!)
  • Use body language to let them know you’re listening, such as making eye contact or nodding
  • Avoid interrupting them
  • Ask questions to understand what they’re saying better and show your interest 
  • Validate their emotions by showing empathy 

Doing the above is the best way to make people feel seen, heard, and understood. 

A good person does this because they know that listening and validating the other person’s feelings can make the world of difference in making them feel better!

9) Think of others 

For this, you’ll need: A few scoops of consideration

Consideration is knowing that your friend is struggling with his mental health so you drop by to keep him company. 

Consideration is sensing your neighbor is struggling after their recent op, so you volunteer to pick their kids up from school. 

By doing good things for others, without even being asked, you’re not just being a good person, you’re being a GREAT person. 

Because to be considerate of others is to do all of the above; have empathy, patience, kindness, and integrity. 

Sure, it may inconvenience you from time to time, but what a difference you make in the lives of others!

10) Do what you can to brighten people’s day 

For this, you’ll need: A couple of pints of positivity 

And finally, positivity. 

Positivity is all about looking on the bright side of life. It’s not about ramming it down people’s throats and dismissing their negative feelings (that’s called toxic positivity and we want to stay away from that!).

If you can do one thing every day for someone else, just to brighten their day, trust me, you don’t need to worry about being a good person or not.

Because in the end, life is made up of these small acts of kindness. 

It’s not the big stuff that people remember, it’s the times someone thought of them in their time of need. 

So, here we’ve covered the 10 essential ingredients for being a good person. Mix them all together and what you’re left with is a person who brings value and warmth into the world! 

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a foodie, writer and traveler. She considers herself a citizen of the world, who gets her inspiration from the people she meets along her journeys. She's currently living in Spain, where she spends her time writing, watching the shepherds and eating tapas in the mountains of Andalucía.

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