Do you have a virtuous heart, or do you just want to impress others by acting kindly?
We’d all like to believe that despite our inevitable imperfection as human beings, we are still good people at our core.
After all, being virtuous doesn’t mean being perfect or never doing anything wrong. It’s about always doing your best to do the right thing and being sorry for your mistakes.
But how do you even know if you’re actually virtuous or, let’s say, you just want to appear like a good person?
It’s something that I’ve honestly been insecure about for a long time: like, am I actually a good person?
I’ve learned that there is 15 main genuine virtue that can’t be faked!
Let me share these signs with you below.
1) Virtuous folks give shower other with compliments
Virtuous people understand the importance of praising people when they deserve it. After all, humans are social beings, and we all need validation and affirmation from other people from time to time.
Virtuous people know that words are powerful. They won’t hesitate to compliment others. But, if they must criticize, they do it kindly and constructively.
They see people for who they really are. The good, the bad, the complicated—they speak and act accordingly.
2) They’re happy when others succeed
Kind people always commend other people because they find joy in other people’s happiness and success.
They actually care about other people!
Shocking, I know…
Virtuous people will celebrate other folks’ victories and prop them up for even more success.
They don’t get jealous. They fully understand it’s not a zero-sum game and find inspiration in others’ success.
3) They avoid gossip
Because they love to shower everyone with kind words, it only makes sense that virtuous people hate talking badly about others—especially behind their backs.
They refuse to use rumors to judge anyone’s behavior, and instead, they come to their conclusions based on their own perception.
And when they see that someone can improve, they offer constructive criticism instead of backstabbing them in front of other people.
4) Virtuous people are generous…
Generosity is one of the telltale signs of kindness and virtuosity.
Genuinely virtuous people offer their time, energy, and material resources without hesitation or an ulterior motive.
And, of course, they don’t ask for anything in return either. They know that it’s not money but our bonds with other people–what’s truly important in life.
At the same time, high-minded people don’t allow anyone to abuse their generosity and kindness!
But their hearts are always soft, and they’re ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.
5) …and altruistic
Those with virtue find it easy to be generous because they are often not materialistic.
I’m not saying they give their last dollar to someone in need. No, there’s a time and place for altruism.
But virtuous people are not attached to material goods as much as others. They know that once you help someone, you bring more kindness into the world. And in return, your life will become better too.
Kind folks believe that what really matters is standing up for other people and for the things we believe in.
6) They have a good sense of humor
Huh? But what does humor have to do with virtue?
Let me explain. This was actually one of the most enlightening lessons I’ve learned about virtue.
Having a sense of humor, especially in difficult times, is a sign of integrity.
It shows that you don’t crumble and lose yourself in the face of challenges. It also indicates that you can stick to your values in the face of temptation.
Being able to laugh at your problems means having a positive mindset—that you can and are willing to do what is right even when things aren’t going your way.
A strong sense of humor is a sign of a strong heart!
7) They forgive and give others a second chance
Do you know what only the strongest of hearts can do?
If you’ve been deeply wronged before, you must know how hard it is to forgive.
And while they may never forget, virtuous people always find strength and grace in their hearts to forgive others.
If you have a hard time forgiving, ask yourself these questions:
- Does forgiving help me move on from what happened?
- Will it help me achieve more peace in my life?
- Does forgiveness help me let go of resentment?
- Will I be happier if I forgive?
- Will forgiveness allow me to face the future more fully?
Of course, it is ultimately up to you —but I think for most, if not all, people, the answer to these questions is a resounding yes.
8) They do more than what is asked of them
Doing more than you’re asked to do is a strong sign of a a good, courageous, upstanding, and successful person.
I personally believe that you should always try to make just a bit more effort than you would normally do.
As a rule of thumb, virtuous people go above and beyond when trying to help others.
Virtuous people have strong values, and one of them is–to do your best. And when they try to act upon these values, everyone else notices and appreciates it.
9) They stay true to themselves
Authenticity is a prerequisite for virtue.
After all, are you really genuinely virtuous if you’re doing good things for the wrong reasons?
Many people do good things not because they believe it’s the right thing to do, but because they want to impress others.
Virtuous people do not feel the need to fake who they are and to create a better image of themselves.
They know and understand their true value and stick with it, which allows them to be understanding and empathetic of other people.
10) They’re not desperate
Whether it’s money, attention, or appreciation, those with virtue are not desperate for it. They are completely content with themselves and instead focus on what they can do for other people.
Of course, they want to be economically stable and be treated with respect and kindness… but nothing more, really.
As I’ve already said, a public image does not matter much for virtuous people. They know that, at the end of the day, trying to please others does not provide real meaning and happiness.
11) They listen more than they talk
The virtuous are humble. They know that they don’t know everything.
And quite paradoxically, that’s how they usually know more than most. Because they always carefully listen to other people.
Whether it’s someone…
- less knowledgeable in their field;
- or even someone they disagree with;
They always listen. They pay attention and absorb every piece of information that they hear.
However, I’m not just talking about philosophical discussions or whatnot.
They also lend a listening and understanding ear to those who need it. Whenever someone is distressed and needs a loving friend to talk to, they are there for them.
Love, after all, is the greatest virtue!
12) They use their privilege for good
Our society is not always fair. Some are born into privilege, while others are born into struggle.
Those with virtue understand this and always use their privilege for good.
They don’t feel guilty for being born into privilege, but they do feel responsible for wielding it in the best way they can.
This allows them to be forces for social good in their communities. They do their best—to lift up those born in underprivileged circumstances.
13) They have empathy for other’s suffering
Just as virtuous people derive joy from other people’s happiness, it also hurts them to see others suffering.
As humans, we all suffer in one way or another, and virtuous people will never fail to help alleviate the pain around them.
Whether it’s a loved one or some stranger, they always try to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
And when they do, it feels like someone covers you with a warm and cozy blanket, and all your problems just fade away.
14) They advocate for positive social change
Look, I’m not religious myself, but I believe the serenity prayer embodies how virtuous people see the world:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Virtuous folks understand that no one can singlehandedly change the world. After all, having 10,000 goals is the same as having 0 goals—you’re not going to achieve anything with both.
However, this doesn’t stop them from doing what they can. Just because we can’t change the world doesn’t mean we can’t change the world around us.
Even if it’s just something small, there is always something you can do.
This is probably the biggest and most important sign of virtue in someone.
They devote their lives to promoting love, peace, and justice, striving to become a genuine force for good.
15) They practice gratitude
Despite their acute awareness of the band in the world, virtuous folks are usually quite joyous at heart.
Why? Well, because they’re grateful for everything that comes their way.
Whether it’s landmark achievements or small joys, they’re grateful for it and don’t take it for granted.
In fact, it’s what keeps them going despite all the hardships they face. They understand that life is as beautiful as it is ugly and that there are as many blessings as there are curses.
How can I become a better person?
If you think you’re not a virtuous person based on the list above, don’t fret.
No one is born a saint. And to be honest, I don’t think anyone in this world perfectly exhibits virtuosity at all times.
I know I definitely don’t!
We’re all imperfect humans, after all.
But what’s important is the willingness to be the best we can be at all times—and the desire to constantly better ourselves.
Here’s how to do just that:
- Have the desire to change: The first step, of course, is to be willing to change for the better. You can’t force yourself into becoming something you don’t want to be. And in fact, by having the desire to be virtuous, you’ve already won half the battle because this desire will naturally make you act virtuously.
- Take accountability: To be good and to do good, you must take accountability for the bad you’ve done as well. Do not make excuses for your wrongdoings. Sincerely apologize and atone for them in the best way you can.
- Don’t hold other people’s mistakes against them: Fixating on other people’s mistakes is a recipe for misanthropy. Doing this will foster a bleak, cynical worldview, making it harder to carry out virtue and do good for those around you.
- Practice kindness: No matter what you do, be kind. You do not need to perform grand acts of altruism. All you need to do is go about your day and carry out normal, simple actions with kindness. Simply speaking with grace is a great start that will dramatically change your mood and mindset.
- Take care of yourself: When we talk about virtue, we discuss what we can do for others, not ourselves. But you cannot love others if you cannot love yourself. As the saying goes: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is essential to building self-esteem and fostering resilience. Trying to carry out virtue while you’re facing crippling insecurity or have weak emotional intelligence will only result in burnout or doing things for the wrong reasons.
- Sleep enough: Sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. Not sleeping enough will weaken your immune system, cause you to perform worse, make you irritable, and even consistently undersleeping can cause permanent damage to your brain. So, if you don’t rest enough, sleep deprivation may influence your behavior and not in a good way.
- Eat healthily: You are what you eat. Consuming junk food regularly will make you feel bad about yourself! A poor diet will always make you feel bloated, lethargic, and uninspired. But eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will improve not only your long-term health but also your short-term mood. This’ll bring you to the right place to implement more virtuous habits.
- Make sure to socialize: Humans are social animals. We need to interact with other people with some semblance of regularity to stay sane. Consistently connecting with others, especially those you love and care about, will not only make you feel better but will also lead to you developing deeper empathy.
How to determine if people are fake
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Thus, surrounding yourself with other virtuous people is the best way to become more virtuous yourself.
But how do you know if someone is actually virtuous or just faking it to impress people?
They always show off
Fake people are always looking to show off. Every time they commit an act of kindness or generosity, they always find a way to mention it to others.
Truly virtuous people will do the right thing, whether someone is looking or not.
They seek superficial attention
A fake person is obsessed with their Facebook likes or Instagram followers. They’re always finding ways to get more of them. You’ll find them posting their supposed acts of kindness and virtue in the most performative ways possible.
Unless it’s your job, there’s really no good reason to desire such things. All it does is feed the ego—and an inflated ego is a big no-no if you want to be a truly good person.
They’re only nice if they can get something out of it
For fake people, their kindness is transactional. They’ll only help if they think they can get something in return.
They’ll compliment you, expecting an even bigger compliment from you. They’ll only donate if it’ll bring them attention.
That’s why you usually only see them being nice to the rich and powerful because they know it can potentially benefit them in the future.
But to those truly in need? To those who likely don’t have anything to offer in return? They’re pretty much invisible to fake people.
They have a flawed worldview
Fake people have a distorted, unrealistic view of the world. Not only do they usually think too highly of themselves, they also see people in very problematic ways (such as thinking kindness should be transactional).
Their toxic perspectives are typically the result of pain or unresolved trauma. Hurt people hurt others, after all.
And this is actually why it’s even more important to be kind even though others may not be: to break the cycle of abuse.
They’re very judgemental
Because fake people think so highly of themselves, they typically look down on others. They judge them harshly for their mistakes—usually out of a subconscious desire to make themselves feel better.
At the end of the day, it’s all about protecting and boosting their ego.
It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it? They want attention and validation from the people they think so lowly of.
Being virtuous is something we should all aspire to.
Virtuous people are honest, generous, kind, and selfless. They take responsibility for their actions and do their best to be a force for good for the people in their lives.
It’s not easy, but being virtuous also provides you with a lot of joy and meaning in life.
However, no one is perfect. Forgive yourself and cut yourself some slack if you haven’t become the person you want to be yet.
Don’t beat yourself up for not being The Perfectly Virtuous Person!
After all, that person doesn’t exist because being virtuous is not a state of being that one achieves but a continuous, never-ending process.
It’s all about atoning for your mistakes, striving to be better, and being a positive presence to those around you—and anyone can start doing these at any time.