5 qualities of a truly decent person, according to psychology

What makes a person truly decent?

This definition may differ from person to person and depend on a variety of factors – from one’s religion, culture, and upbringing – that influence one’s idea of what a good person entails.

While the definition may differ from person to person, there are still a few common traits that people think of when they’re asked to describe a good or decent person. 

Today we’ll cover 5 of these traits. Perhaps you may realize that you’re one of them too.

1) They’re empathetic.

Being empathetic indicates one’s ability to acknowledge the feelings of another – apart from themselves. They understand that their actions have consequences and can impact others. 

What sets them apart from other people is their ability to feel what the other person is feeling; they’re able to sense someone’s pain when the other person is hurting and able to feel genuine joy when the other person is celebrating.

According to psychology, being empathetic goes beyond understanding what the other person feels – it elicits an emotional response that mirrors the other person, leading to a desire to help. 

It’s a trait that is devoid of selfishness and stems from the desire to help the people around them. 

For example, you may be speaking to someone who’s going through a challenging time. By being empathetic, you cancel your plans to be with that friend, not only by offering a listening ear but by spending time with them and helping out with tasks or chores that they may be unable to complete.

Moreover, this quality not only motivates people to do good, it also hinders people from hurting others.

Empathizing with others removes the potential desire to harm them while inspiring more caring and harmonious interactions.

Therefore, people who are truly decent are often deeply empathetic. They draw people in and are whom people would usually trust with their problems.

2) They’re patient.

As they say, patience is a virtue. And how aptly put in this context, since people who are truly decent are also very patient.

In our increasingly fast-paced world, it’s not common to find people who are genuinely patient.

They understand that people are busy and may not always follow a mutually agreed upon deadline. Even when they’re at a restaurant waiting for their order, they often give the other person the benefit of the doubt before getting angry.

This is especially rare on busy city roads, but decent people will let go and avoid horning excessively to indicate their anger. Rather, they will enjoy the drive and give way to vehicles who’d like to overtake them.

If you find that this trait describes you, it’s highly likely that you’re a decent person in the eyes of others. You may even think that life is too short to bear grudges against people you may not even know. 

3) They acknowledge their mistakes.

Another trait of decent people is their ability to take accountability for their actions. It takes effort to make decisions and actions that will not harm others and to own up if their actions negatively impact others. 

And this is not an easy thing to do.

Most people would rather sweep their mistakes under the rug, ignore them until the entire ordeal goes away, or simply give a flippant apology to the person they had wronged. 

The reason is that no one wants to be placed in the uncomfortable situation of admitting that they are in the wrong and that their actions caused people to get hurt.

Hence, the easy way out would be to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.

Acknowledging one’s mistake is, therefore, one of the key traits of a truly decent person, because it takes a certain level of emotional maturity to set aside one’s need to be right and prioritize the feelings of others.

4) They are fair.

Fairness is another trait that is getting increasingly harder to find in people. 

Most people are often swayed by biases, preconceived notions, or inherent judgment, which lead to them perhaps treating a group of people far more differently than other groups.

However, decent people treat everyone equally because they believe in equality for all

One great way to see if the people around you are truly decent is the way they treat service staff. 

Do they see them as less? Are their words and actions less respectful when it comes to interacting with receptionists, waiters, or cleaners? Do they have less patience, get easily irritated, or behave condescendingly towards them?

If so, the people you mix around with may not actually be truly decent.

I always believe that you can tell a person’s character through the way they treat service staff, and usually, in my experience, this is a great litmus test.

No matter how great they may appear with other people they consider their allies or friends, their true sides will show the minute they are placed in an environment where they think they’re better than everyone else.

5) They pursue personal growth.

A truly decent person will never shy away from wanting to grow and learn more. They acknowledge that learning is a lifelong process and one will never run out of things to grow in.

This is why they may enjoy pursuing hobbies, learning new things, or actively trying to be a better person in general.

You may think that wanting to be a better person should be a given, but you may be surprised at how many people feel that they are all alright where they are. 

According to psychology, someone who wants to be a better person is not only focused on improving themselves, but actively acknowledging that they will be a consistently decent person throughout their lifetime.

Which makes it all the more important to pursue personal growth where necessary. For truly decent people, they understand that the way forward is to ensure you grow spiritually and mentally. 

I have a friend who’s well into her 60s, and is one of the loveliest people I’ve met in my life. In addition to being a sweet and kind woman, she’s also very passionate about personal development.

In addition to taking up courses to train and exercise her mind, or walking around the garden to keep up with her physical exercise, she makes a mental note to improve herself through courses and books.

She also actively journals to practice mindfulness and ensure that she’s mindful of the things she says and thinks. It helps her understand her thought processes better and work on being a more empathetic person in whatever she does. 

In conclusion

Despite having differing ideas of what a truly decent person is, people generally regard them as good people who help make the world a much better place.

And if you find yourself relating to the traits listed in this article, then perhaps you can teach people a thing or two about how to become a better person.

The world needs more of such people!

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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