6 traits of people who enjoy helping others (without expecting anything in return)

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You might not believe it because of what you scroll past online every day, but there are still some good people worldwide. 

I know this for a fact. 

Though I get it, when someone graces you with a random act of kindness or help, it’s easy to be wary, question them, and brainstorm potential underlying motives. 

But I’m here to tell you that humanity isn’t all that bad; that some people will help others just for the sake of helping, without deceit or expecting anything in return. 

From my experience, the latter type of folks often tend to share a similar set of traits. 

Let’s get to it! 

1) They have empathy 

When you have genuine empathy, you have a gift. Never let it go. 

You possess a deep understanding and tenderness towards other people–and their emotions and situations in life. 

You see, many people are so caught up in their own worlds and realities, that it can be an uphill battle to get them to bother relating to other people’s struggles. 

When you’re empathetic, you tend to see the best of people, whether familiar or foreign. 

This feeling (and outlook) allows you to connect with others on a more profound level, making you more ready and willing to offer assistance with minimal judgment. 

2) They are selfless 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve come across many legitimately selfless people in my life; people who prioritize the needs of others over their own, without batting an eyelash. 

Once upon a time, I owned a restaurant business. 

And during the pandemic, because of the said business, I racked up significant debt. 

The stress became unbearable. My days were filled with hostile calls from creditors, receiving harsh subpoenas, and nervously pacing through my apartment, often drunk. 

I kept my anxieties bottled up for months, trying to fix things on my own, not wanting to burden anyone with my problems, which, being the owner and founder, I rightfully felt responsible for. 

Finally, I caved and reached out to my grandmother, someone who I always looked up to as sort of a sage role model, like Yoga from Star Wars. 

Without hesitation, she took it upon herself to save me. 

She gathered the funds to pay off creditors; she connected me with an attorney to deal with my legal troubles; and perhaps most importantly, she gave me the moral support and reassurance I needed at the time. 

She made it known to me that I wasn’t the incompetent idiot I thought I was, that people make mistakes–and that’s okay.

The entire ordeal was a core learning experience for me. I learned about myself, and I learned about my grandmother and her level of selflessness

Her willingness to sacrifice her time, resources, and comfort for me, someone in need, at her age is something that will stay with me forever. 

3) They have compassion 

Compassion and empathy sometimes get interchanged. And for good reasons—they are indeed highly similar concepts. 

According to Verywell Mind: “Empathy is characterized by an awareness of other people’s emotional experiences and an attempt to feel those same emotions from their perspective. Compassion is characterized by the desire to take action to help the other person.” 

Compassion means having a genuine concern for the well-being of others. 

You feel moved by others’ plights and suffering and will actively seek ways to fix it. 

Compassion is purely an emotional response. 

Let’s say you’re going through a rough time after losing your job. 

A compassionate person might offer practical help like reviewing your resume or providing emotional support, saying things like “I’m here for you and ready to help in any way I can to help you through this challenging time.”

4) They are generous 

Some people are simply generous by nature–not just in terms of material or financial resources, but also in sharing their knowledge, wisdom, or emotional guidance and support. 

Many people out there tend to hoard their assets. 

They might see life as a perpetual competition, so rather than “share the wealth,” they’ll do the opposite, wanting to get ahead of everyone else. 

Generous people are generally well-meaning, they’re happy to assist, perhaps occasionally reaping the benefits of the joy and positive energy and fulfillment created by their altruism. 

Generosity, like empathy, is a gift in this world; just don’t let other people abuse it. 

5) They have a non-judgmental attitude

I think it’s safe to say that people can be pretty judgemental and critical. 

For instance, you might hear a person from a certain generation condemn “kids today” as being inferior or soft, without taking into account external factors. 

They paint everyone with the same brush, thinking “If I could do it in my day, so can they.” 

Here’s another fairly common demographic: people who denounce illegal immigrants as bad people when all they want is a better life for their family. 

Remember, as history has proven since time immemorial, legality doesn’t always equate to morality. And vice versa. 

Either way, these instances, holding these perceptions of others, are limiting ways of going about life, of approaching humanity and its nuances and complexities. 

When you’re non-judgemental you approach situations with more of a willingness to help other people, however “different” those people might be. 

You understand that everyone faces unique challenges, internally and externally, and they deserve help regardless of their circumstances. 

You understand that life, that the human experience, isn’t linear and your actions tend to reflect that. 

6) They live with gratitude and humility 

Believe it or not, some people view paying it forward and helping others as a privilege. 

They feel grateful for the opportunity to lend a helping hand and make the world a better place, in their own special way. 

Sadly, I think it’s a safe assumption that the majority of people are self-serving; their energy, their desires, and everything else are all directed inward. 

They may not be bad people, but this is just how they are built, for better or worse. 

When you have grace and humility, you have a different perspective: that making a positive impact in someone’s life and empowering them to overcome their challenges is one of life’s more invaluable experiences.

Final words 

To recap, I’d like to say that people who truly enjoy helping others (without expecting anything in return) are rare gems in life.

If you know someone who shares these qualities, hold onto them tightly. 

They deserve your attention and praise. 

And who knows, perhaps their actions will eventually rub off on you, creating the kind of ripple effect that makes the world a better place. 

Now wouldn’t that be nice? 

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Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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