Fun fact: I collect good people. I’ve had too many run-ins with bad ones to waste my time on them.
I find that “goodness” is a spectrum. Most people have both bad and good in them – heck, I know I do. But I occasionally come across people who are seriously good and who don’t seem to have any bad.
We’re talking about people who are so good that it shines off them like an aura. You can spot them coming a mile away.
I’ve also noticed that most seriously good people have a bunch of personality traits in common. Ten of them, in fact.
Let’s take a look at them.
Empathy is everything.
People who are empathetic can relate to other people. They can feel their pain and share their happiness. It’s a blessing and a curse, because while it tends to make it easier for them to understand what other people are going through, it also makes them feel their pain.
My partner is an empath, and she often tells me that she wishes she wasn’t. I think it’s her greatest strength and it’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with her, but I can also understand why she finds it so difficult.
Compassion is what makes humans different from animals – and what makes one human different from another.
It’s built from that empathy that we talked about and allows us to modify our actions based upon the way that they’ll impact other people.
For example, a compassionate person won’t ask someone to work late if they have kids and it’s parents’ evening, and they won’t expect someone to get up and give a presentation if they suffer from social anxiety.
Compassionate people stop when they see an injured cat so they can take it to a vet. Everyone else just averts their eyes and goes about their business.
People who are patient are more fun to be around.
I know this from experience. I have family members who are notoriously impatient, and I remember having to run to keep up with them when I was a kid. I never got to enjoy the moment because they were so impatient that they were always looking forward to what was next.
Patient people make for better parents, managers and leaders, because all three call for them to show patience when teaching people and showing them how to do things.
That’s why I’ve never wanted to lead a team. I’m far too impatient.
Selflessness is interesting because it should theoretically have been bred out of us by evolution and survival of the fittest.
That’s because selfless people put other people ahead of themselves.
The ultimate example of selflessness is when you’re watching a movie and the hero shouts “nooooooo!” and dives in front of a bullet to save their love interest’s life.
But there are everyday examples of selflessness, too. Parents (and mothers in particular) are notorious for their selflessness, because they’ll always put their children ahead of themselves.
Honestly, honesty is vital.
No one likes a liar, and that’s true at work, at home and everywhere in between. Show me a liar and I’ll show you someone who’s not a good person.
As a general rule, honesty is always the best policy. That’s why it’s a saying.
True, there are occasionally times when it’s important to lie, but those are the little white lies like when we tell our partner that we love their new haircut, even when we think it’s too short.
Oh well, it’ll grow back.
Humility is the art of being humble, and displaying humility makes you a good person because no one likes a show-off.
In today’s day and age, it’s difficult to be humble. If someone isn’t active on social networks, we get suspicious. But when we use social networks, we need to post things, and that forces us to show off to a certain extent.
The trick is to be humble at the same time. This means not showing off your possessions and talking sparingly about your achievements. Instead, try to focus on the people that made your achievements possible.
For example, if you’re the CEO of a successful business, display humility by shouting out the good work that your employees are doing. If you’re a proud parent, shout out another parent friend who’s doing a great job of overcoming adversity.
Loyalty is important to all of us.
For example, if you’re in a relationship with someone, the chances are that you expect them to remain loyal to you. If not, you’re in a toxic relationship and you should get the heck out of there.
Loyalty means different things to different people, but the general idea is that good people stand by their friends and family members through thick and thin.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t offer criticism, though. In fact, when you’re loyal to someone, you help them to address their flaws and to become better people instead of just leaving them to it.
At the risk of repeating an example, parents are generally super loyal to their children. It’s so rare for parents to withdraw their loyalty that we have a special word for when it happens: disowning.
Good people are fair and just.
Let’s travel back a thousand years or so and think about what makes for a good king. The chances are that when you try to envisage one, they’re good because they listen to their people, they govern with kindness and they don’t do any of that nasty beheading that Henry VIII kept doing.
These days, fairness means actively standing against discrimination and going out of your way to make sure that injustices are tackled head on.
Let’s be honest, here. If something is unfair, you’ll know it.
Our sense of justice and fairness is usually informed by our morality.
Our morals are determined by everything from the religion we follow to the upbringing we’ve had. What’s acceptable in one society is unthinkable in another. Arranged marriages, for example.
The thing with morality is that there’s not really a right or wrong way of approaching it. Instead, the important thing is for people to have a strong sense of morals in the first place.
Moral people tend to be good people, but only if they match their actions to their morals. It’s no good saying that you believe in equality if you pay female employees less than male employees for doing the same job.
Speaking of matching your actions to your morals, consistency is the most important trait of all.
That’s because anyone can fake these factors, but it’s impossible to maintain it forever. Eventually, people who fake these traits get caught out, and that can only be a good thing. It means we can better tell whether someone’s actually a good person or not.
That’s because consistency comes easy to seriously good people. It’s not difficult for them to be consistent and to maintain their traits over time because it’s not an act.
Consider Gandhi, who’s generally thought of as a role model for what it means to be a good person. He consistently preached a doctrine of non-violence, and it’s hard to imagine him breaking that and getting into a fist fight.
We’d all like to be seriously good people, but it’s often easier said than done. Trust me, I know.
For me, the most important thing to think about if you want to be a seriously good person is that the intent has to be there. In other words, if you want to be good, you have to want to be good.
Sure, you can try to find ways to apply each of these traits to your daily life, but if you’re not genuine about the way you do it, people are going to pick up on it.
Oh, and remember that we’re all just works in progress. Even the “goodest” (I know that’s not a word) people are still trying to be better. Just do your best and the rest will follow. Good luck.