How to Be a Good Person
Co-authored by Paul Chernyak, LPC
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Being a good person means more than just doing things for others. You have to accept and love yourself before you can put positive energy into the universe. Philosophers have been debating what is good and what is not for centuries, and many people find that it's more complicated than just being kind. While every person's journey is different, being good has a lot to do with discovering yourself and your role in the world. In order to truly be good, you will have to consider what 'goodness' means to you. Perhaps this means doing good for others, or simply being an honest and kind person. Use some of the following tips to help yourself be a better person.
1Determine what being a good person means to you personally. Some people think that being a good person is as simple as not doing harm to another. But it is not always about what you don't do, but what you do for others. Being a good person also includes helping yourself as much as others. You have to decide what you believe being a good person entails.
What is your ideal person? Make a list of traits that you believe make up a good, ideal person. Start living your life according to these traits.
Are you waiting for something in return? Are you doing things because it will help you look good? Or are you doing things because you truly want to give and help? Stop putting up airs and adopt the attitude of giving without expectation of receiving anything in return.
Being good does not mean only by outer goodness. You have to consider being good straight from the heart (i.e., purely). Ultimately, you have to decide on your own code of ethics, and what matters is that you follow through with what you believe makes you a good person. At times, this may conflict with what others believe is good, and they might even accuse you of being wrong or evil. Consider their views - either they know something you don't, in which case you may learn something from them and update your morality, or perhaps their experience is limited, meaning that you should take their views with a grain of salt.
2Choose a role model. Having a role model provides you with an example of someone to correspond to. This person should have traits that you want to attain. Think of ways that you can better embody the qualities you admire. Think of how to apply those qualities in your work, creative pursuits, personal relationships, diet, and lifestyle.
Who do you look up to and why? How are they making the world a better place to live in, and how can you do the same?
What qualities do you admire in them, and how can you develop the same ones?
Keep your role model close to you, like a friendly spirit that is always at your side. Think of how they would respond to a question or circumstance, and how you should respond in the same manner.
3Stop comparing yourself to others. Try to understand that some have it better than you, but many have it much worse. When we make ourselves miserable by comparing ourselves with others, we are wasting time and energy that we could use in building our own inner resources. Compliment yourself every morning. Being happy makes you a more positive person, which helps you put those positive vibes out into the world.
You have your own unique gifts and talents. Focus on sharing them with the world instead of focusing on the gifts of another.
4Love yourself. Learn to love yourself in every way. Practice unconditional self-acceptance. The only way you can truly love others is to first have confidence and love yourself. What you do and what you believe must make you feel good as well as others. If you try to do things for others without taking care of yourself, you can end up resentful, angry, and negative. If you love yourself, then you will make a positive impact when you help others.
Are you superficially acting like a good person? If you are self-loathing and angry on the inside, you may not be a good person despite all your outward actions.
5Be yourself. Remember to be yourself always and never someone who you're not. Don't try to be like somebody else; just be yourself and do good things as simply as you can. Being yourself helps you be a genuine person who can reflect positivity into the world. Staying true to yourself helps you find focus and understand your core values and what you find important.
Be good for its own sake. Don't try to be a good person because your parents told you to, because you want recognition or respect, or for any kind of reward except your own satisfaction in doing what you believe is good. Never act superior to anyone else or brag about your "goodness" or "righteousness". Your dedication to a particular creed, ideology, or set of guidelines does not make you better than anyone else. Do what you believe makes you a good person on your own terms, and remember that it's an individual journey - everyone's path is unique. "Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame." — Alexander Pope.
6Pray and/or meditate. Praying to a higher power or meditating can help cultivate the qualities you seek to embody. Meditation and prayer can help you find inner peace and focus on your inner self. As you increase your self-awareness, you understand what you really want and find clarity in your life. As you gain inner peace, you feel more positive, which helps you become a better person.
Find a private, safe space free from distractions. Sit in a comfortable position. Clear your mind from all thoughts and take a few deep, slow breaths. Observe the thoughts in your head. Don't feel or react, just observe. If your focus breaks, just count to ten. Meditate until you feel cleansed and rejuvenated.
7Make small changes. No one can change immediately. But even small changes can make an enormous and positive difference. Set small goals every month or two and focus on one or two key habits which you want to change.
An example for Goal 1: I will listen to others without interrupting at all either verbally or in any other way. Think of how annoying it can be for you when the other person begins to move the lips as if they are about to intervene.
Goal 2: I will do my best to think of what things would make another person happy. This could be sharing your food or drink with others when they are hungry or thirsty, letting someone else sit where you want to sit or something else.
8Review your goals every day. To start your mission to become a good person, make and read a list of your ideals every day. Make it a part of you. Follow the guidelines and add some of your own steps as well.