It’s funny how we spend so much of our lives trying to fit in, but at the same time, who really wants to be “ordinary”?
No, we want to stand out in all the very best ways. We want to be remarkable, exceptional, sensational.
Forget blending into the background, surely we all want to be extraordinary.
Yet it’s often the most unassuming and humble of traits that really make someone so out of the ordinary.
Here are 20 signs that you are an extraordinary person.
What makes you an extraordinary person? 20 key qualities
1) You listen more than you speak
The best conversations involve a healthy flow of talking and listening.
But the reality is that a lot of us focus too much on the talking part and not enough on the listening.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking more about your own witty or wise reply, than focusing your energy on what the other person is saying.
It’s not only rare to be a great listener, but it’s super savvy too.
People who listen are often more popular, because we all like to feel heard.
When someone listens to us, they are showing us that they respect us. So it perhaps understandably helps to build better relationships.
You’re also going to learn more by listening than speaking. In this way, it’s better to be the one collecting information than the one giving it away.
2) You’re courageous enough to fail
Failure never feels good, and it’s for this reason that so many people feel pretty damn terrified of it.
In its most extreme form, it’s even a recognised phobia — called atychiphobia.
But this fear we’re all capable of feeling in some form or another also means we can end up closing ourselves off to a lot of opportunities in the process.
We all know the saying “once bitten, twice shy” — but giving in too soon also keeps you from the finish line and finding success.
Some people would rather not try at all than give something their all and it not work out.
Stepping up to the plate, taking a leap of faith and having the tenacity to keep on going —especially when you’ve failed — becomes a true act of mental courage.
In a world full of fearful people, being bold enough to take risks is perhaps rare.
If you’ve ever pondered the question, ‘how do I know if I am unique?’ Then I’d say a willingness to fail is a sure-fire sign.
3) You are happy in your own company
Contentment at being alone is one of those signs you are secure with yourself.
Of course, we all have different personality types and some of us are more naturally introverted or extroverted.
But whether you generally prefer company or actively enjoy solitude — being happy in your own company is an indicator of self-sufficiency.
You know how to entertain yourself, and you aren’t reliant on the attention of someone else to be at peace.
There’s no denying that social connections are good for you, keeping you healthier and happier in life.
But on the other side of the spectrum, it would seem that being happy with your own company also reflects a strong self-esteem.
Research has found that people who like being alone are typically more open-minded, and have more well-functioning social lives than people who hate to be on their own.
4) You can let go
Maybe you’ve heard the Zen proverb: “Let go or be dragged”.
But what seems like a no-brainer concept on the surface of it is still notoriously difficult to put into practice.
In fact, the majority of people would rather hold on for dear life — even when they feel like they’re being flung from pillar to post — than release themselves by simply letting go.
Perhaps at the root of this behaviour is the undeniable fact that letting go involves change — which can be hella scary.
This resistance to change makes sense considering uncertainty is something the mind actively avoids because it robs us of energy, and potentially creating some serious stress in the process.
Being able to let go of people, things and situations make you pretty amazing, because it shows you’re capable of overriding your brain’s fundamental drive to avoid loss at all cost.
5) You consider the needs and wants of others
In between selfishness and selflessness probably sits the sweet spot.
It’s here where extraordinary people still manage to have their own healthy boundaries whilst still thinking about the needs of others.
Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to take care of our own feelings in life, so anyone who actively considers other people’s is pretty special.
When you’re looking for signs of an amazing person, how they treat others is one of your biggest clues.
6) You’re curious
One of the most magical things about children is their innocent curiosity for life.
This is one of the essential elements that helps them to learn and grow.
But so many of us lose this playfulness towards life as we get older and become a little worn down by our experiences.
But curiosity is still a key ingredient in creativity, ingenuity and discovery.
An active mind is always asking questions, searching for answers, and looking for solutions.
Curiosity can bring excitement in your life, opening up new ideas and possibilities.
In the words of Albert Einstein:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity…Never lose a holy curiosity.”
7) You keep your cool
Let’s face it, life can be stressful and it’s often easy to blow a fuse.
I always think I’m reaching this mature, chilled, and zen stage of life…and then I visit my parents and quickly resort back to a moody teenager.
Anger is one of the most primitive emotions we experience. Scientists think it’s something that has been hardwired into the brain over millions of years of evolution.
In a nutshell, we get angry when our reward circuit is triggered.
We have an expectation of something and when it doesn’t pan out how we want — we feel mad.
The resulting effect is that stress hormones like adrenaline and testosterone flood the body.
Whilst small amounts of anger might not be so bad — research has shown it can be a powerful motivator — being able to constructively process emotions is far better for our mental health.
The skill to keep calm and carry on, makes you an extraordinary person.
8) You take responsibility for your own feelings
We all know someone who is forever passing the buck.
What happened wasn’t their fault, and so neither is the way they are feeling right now. Whatever has happened has made them feel this way.
The problem with always laying the blame for how we feel at someone else’s door is that we will always be at the mercy of others.
It becomes a sort of victimhood.
But those who are able to totally own their own emotions — the good, the bad and the ugly — tend to feel more in the driving seat of their own lives.
9) You have a glass half full attitude
The numerous benefits of optimism are well documented. Better health, less stress, better relationships and greater success are just a few.
Essentially, research has shown that optimistic people have a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or pessimists.
One study found that whether we are naturally optimistic or pessimistic is around 25% down to our genetics, and the rest comes down to our experiences.
That means, even if it takes some work, optimism is something you can cultivate.
Author of ‘Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life’, Dr. Martin Seligman, says the rewards for doing so are clear:
“Literally hundreds of studies show that pessimists give up more easily and get depressed more often. These experiments also show that optimists do much better in school and college, at work and on the playing field. They regularly exceed the predictions of aptitude tests.
“When optimists run for office, they are more apt to be elected than pessimists are. Their health is unusually good. They age well, much freer than most of us from the usual physical ills of middle age. Evidence suggests they may even live longer.”
10) You’re honest
We may all know that honesty is the best policy, but honesty also takes a lot of conviction.
Speaking what is on our mind or potentially upsetting the apple cart can feel threatening.
Sometimes, being honest means the risk of losing out in some way. Lies tend to solely benefit the person weaving them.
Honesty lets people know exactly where they stand so they can make their own decisions with all the facts.
If you’re an honest person, it’s also one of the likely signs you are admired, as research suggests that honesty and integrity are the two most valued qualities in people who we look up to.
11) You truly love yourself
We’re not talking in any kind of egocentric or self-centred way, it’s more a deep-down belief of your true value and worth.
Loving yourself should be fundamental, but often it’s neglected by so many of us.
The reason it’s so important is because self-love becomes the firm foundation upon which everything else is built upon in our lives.
If those foundations are shaky, everything else is more prone to collapse.
When you know how to love yourself you don’t rely on the love of others for your validation — which actually makes your relationships even stronger too.
12) You follow your dreams
Having personal goals is a total gamechanger.
Everyone’s dreams are different and they certainly don’t have to be grand. Some of the most humble ambitions are often the most meaningful.
Goals help you to get clear on what you want from different areas of your life — relationships, career, health, family and more.
They also encourage you to be proactive and come up with a plan, rather than waiting to be handed an opportunity.
People who follow their dreams seem to be charged with an extraordinary energy. They have an enviable sense of purpose, positivity, and motivation.
13) You don’t follow the crowd
It takes strength of character to be a leader and not a follower.
How do you know if you have presence?
You’re most likely not afraid to go your own way when you need to.
You realize that popularity at any cost is ultimately less important than staying true to yourself.
This extraordinary personality trait may be rarer than we imagine, with conformity studies suggesting social pressure is a powerful influence on our behaviour.
In what has become a classic experiment, Asch (1951) found that 75% of participants gave in to social pressure.
It seems that many people will just go along with the majority out of fear of ridicule and self-doubt in their own convictions.
14) You make time to enjoy life
Life is for living, so why is it so easy to get worn down by the daily grind and forget that?
Having hobbies, making time for simple pleasures and spending your time and money doing what you most enjoy are all ways of appreciating your life.
If you’re extraordinary you most likely don’t force yourself to do the things you hate out of obligation or fear.
Instead, you focus on your passions and what makes you happy whenever you can.
15) You show vulnerability
Hands down, vulnerability has to be one of the scariest things in life.
Letting your guard down and opening yourself up is as nerve-wracking as every exam you’ll ever sit, every person you’ll ever ask out and every job interview you’ll ever take — all rolled into one.
It’s logical that we strive to protect ourselves for fear of getting hurt.
But vulnerability is a superpower, and those who are strong enough to handle it reap the rewards.
The ability to be vulnerable builds intimacy in relationships, improves empathy, aids cooperation, and opens us up for growth.
16) You make time to learn and grow
Life is one giant classroom, and the most extraordinary amongst us know that you should never stop learning.
Whether it’s reading, studying, or discovering something new in life — making time to expand your horizons is always time well spent.
People with a growth mindset believe that their abilities and skills can be developed over time with just a little bit of dedication.
Which means they are more likely to rise up to challenges, believe in themselves, and keep on going when things get tough.
17) You take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself isn’t all long hot bubble baths with candles.
Real self-care involves taking an active role in your emotional needs and wellbeing needs.
It’s choosing to do the things that serve you, and avoiding the things that don’t.
That might be finding the motivation to exercise and move your body when you’d much rather flop on the sofa.
It could mean being disciplined enough to meditate, despite the resistance of your chattering mind.
It’s about finding the strength to say ‘no’ when you know deep down that is best for you.
You realise that even though choosing yourself may sometimes be viewed as selfish to others, it’s actually about self-responsibility.
18) You give without expectation
In a world full of trade offs, the person who gives without thoughts of receiving is extraordinary.
Whether it’s offering to help a friend move, sharing your skills or knowledge with somebody, or donating to charity.
Science has shown that giving makes us feel good.
There’s clearly a lot of truth in the old Chinese proverb:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
19) Seeing others in pain, hurts you
Do you ever find yourself crying over a movie, song, or even TV commercial? Or maybe watching the news always creates a heaviness in your chest.
These are signals of an empathetic person who cares deeply about the feelings of others.
When you witness powerful emotions, you understand them and they resonate with you on a deep level.
The ability to be touched by others and feel true compassion is remarkable as it highlights how truly in touch with your emotions you are.
20) You take time to reflect
For some deep thinkers, introspection may come naturally. But many others are too busy getting on with living to stop and think too much.
Reflection is about considered thought, and usually takes a certain amount of self-awareness and analytical thinking.
Being able to consciously contemplate both your beliefs and actions is really important to growth.
How important? Well, research found that call centre staff who took 15 minutes a day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who didn’t take this time.
Reflection is the secret weapon of an extraordinary person, as it allows them to constantly improve.