Being a good person is ultimately a choice.
Admittedly, it’s not always an easy choice. It takes effort to do the right thing.
But good people are prepared to put in that work.
Here’s what sets them apart…
1) They’re honest, even when it’s difficult
Honesty is highly valued but, let’s face it, can be tricky to put into practice.
Because it’s often easier to fall back on a lie when it gets us out of trouble.
That way we can quickly squirm out of something or dodge a difficult situation.
The fact is that honesty can feel incredibly uncomfortable, even if it is always the best policy.
Whatsmore, effective honesty is an art that needs to be given kindly. And that’s no mean feat.
Genuinely good people find the courage to be truthful and the delicacy to deliver it as tactfully as possible.
2) They root for others
Good people want others to succeed in life.
They’re not only out for what they can get.
They know that the only person you are truly in competition with in life is yourself.
So when someone else does well, they’re not consumed with envy or bitterness.
They’re not secretly fuming that someone else was blessed with good fortune.
They are happy to be the cheerleader standing on the side, celebrating along with you.
3) They are complementary and give praise freely
Another important aspect of celebrating other people is being able to praise them.
Good people are happy to offer compliments and positive feedback.
Giving sincere recognition is really important as it not only boosts other people’s self-esteem, but also helps to motivate and reinforce positive behavior.
Neuroscientists have even found that our brains process verbal affirmations similarly to financial rewards.
4) They think that everyone is equal
It’s true what they say:
You can tell a lot about someone based on how they treat the so-called “little people” in life.
Genuinely good people understand that no one person on this earth is fundamentally better or worse.
It doesn’t matter how much they have or their status in society, everybody deserves to be treated equally.
A good person doesn’t ever act like someone is beneath them.
They are just as courteous and polite to the server waiting on them at a restaurant as they are with their boss.
5) They are kind and compassionate
We can’t have a list of traits that set good people apart without including kindness.
It is arguably the most defining characteristic of any good person.
It’s that quality of being warm-hearted and friendly to those you meet.
It’s incredibly simple, yet so powerful.
In fact, research has shown that kindness makes the world a happier place for all of us.
We not only feel good when we are kind, but the so-called ripple effect of compassion means that we inspire others to be kinder.
6) They are considerate
Being considerate is different from simply being kind.
It involves being truly mindful of others’ needs and taking them into account.
Good people pay close attention to the feelings and wishes of others.
Of course, it doesn’t mean they will go along with anything, simply to people please.
But they do stop to think about other people, rather than automatically putting themselves first.
7) They try not to judge others
The world is awash with all different kinds of people.
That means you’ll no doubt encounter very different ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions on a daily basis.
It can be difficult to step back and try to see things from another point of view.
Sometimes we may quickly jump to conclusions about the people who are unlike us in any way.
What sets genuinely good people apart is their tolerance.
They take a non-judgemental approach to the people they meet.
As Mother Teresa put it:
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
8) They are generous in sharing what they have
You know what they say:
‘Sharing is caring’.
Good people strive to share what they have —whether it’s their time, skill, or resources.
They don’t believe that it’s “every man for himself”.
Instead, they think that when we work together the world becomes a better place.
Which brings us nicely to the next point…
9) They are altruistic and believe giving back is important
Being altruistic takes generosity one step further.
Research suggests that altruism is something that starts in infancy.
Whether it’s something that’s innate or that we learn is still being debated.
But what is for sure is that it is hugely important to the functioning of our societies.
It helps to build social connections. Not only that, but acts of altruism also lead people to live happier, healthier, and longer lives.
Good people strive to give back — whether that is through charity, acts of service, or volunteering.
10) They are positive and count their blessings
A gratitude attitude helps us to not take anything for granted.
Rather than focus on what may be missing in their life, good people prefer to take stock of everything they do have.
This positive framework also helps them approach life in the best mindset.
They realize there will always be good and bad in every situation, but they choose to search for the good.
This is also what makes a good person wise. They know that life isn’t perfect, but they choose to find the silver linings.
If you think you’re a wise person, then you might relate to our below video on the 12 traits of a wise person.
11) They’re respectful
Respect is one of the building blocks of all good relationships.
It’s how we grew trust, security and a sense of togetherness in our connections.
When respect isn’t shown it makes us feel threatened and we’re more likely to take a defensive approach.
Good people recognize how important it is to come across as polite and respectful— and they go out of their way to do so.
12) They’re fair
Fairness and justice strike right to the heart of ethics.
A good person is after all an ethical person. They strive to do what is right.
That means taking an even handed approach.
To a certain extent, fairness is about impartiality.
A good person wants to see that everybody gets what they deserve without favoritism or discrimination.
13) They have integrity and stand up for others
As I’ve just said, good people have strong moral principles.
You’ve probably heard the expression:
‘The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing.’
Well, it’s not enough to be a passively nice person.
Genuinely good people will stick their necks out to do the right thing.
They are willing to stand up for others and defend them. And they will intervene when they see wrongdoing.
14) They’re humble
Humility isn’t just about taking a modest approach.
It goes deeper than that.
When someone has humility, they are able to view themselves and others more accurately.
Because they’re taking into account their flaws as well as their gifts.
It’s got absolutely nothing to do with having low self-esteem.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Humble people have such a deep-rooted sense of self that they don’t need to brag and boast to inflate their ego.
15) They’re empathetic
In a nutshell we can think of empathy as being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
In the words of Alfred Adler:
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.”
But it’s actually more multifaceted than that.
It’s the ability to:
- Recognize what others are feeling and thinking
- Understand what others are feeling and thinking
- Share the thoughts and feelings
It’s no wonder that empathy is what underpins and helps us to strengthen quality relationships.
16) They show restraint
Of course, being a good person isn’t all about what you do.
It’s just as much about what you don’t do.
The type of restraint we’re referring to here isn’t avoiding chocolate cake when you’re on a diet.
Nope, it’s emotional restraint.
That means being able to keep a handle on your emotions rather than spewing them all over other people.
It means knowing when to keep your mouth shut versus when to speak up.
Genuinely good people aren’t carried away by their emotional impulses, so they are able to control themselves.
17) They’re patient
When we do lose our composure, it usually goes hand in hand with losing our patience.
Think about it:
Your ability to keep calm, especially in a heated situation, relies upon it.
Once you lose your patience, you are more likely to lose the grip on your emotional restraint too.
That’s why good people actively practice the virtue of patience.
They try to slow down, stay mindful, and strive for acceptance in challenging situations.
That might mean taking a big deep breath and checking in with yourself before you lose your temper.
18) They’re self-aware
Here’s the thing:
We all have the potential to be genuinely good people.
Because good people aren’t Saints who are so much better than anyone else.
They’re not perfect. They make mistakes just like we all do. They simply try their best.
What they are though is self-aware.
This helps them to reflect on who they are and how they behave. And that means they can assess and re-assess themselves.
In short: They can grow to be better people.
The power of self-awareness allows all of us to learn from our mistakes and strive to do and be better.