An Ongoing List of How to be a good person in 10 *easy* steps

People these days seem to be more and more ok with being shitty toward one another. That being said, I think it would be useful if we, the human race, compiled a list of guidelines to help us coexist. (Note: I am compiling this list not only for everyone else; most of it is in fact for my own benefit.)

1.) Listen to other people.  No, don’t just sit impatiently while they talk in order to put on the facade of politeness. REALLY LISTEN and analyze what the person is attempting to get across. Too often, we let our egos get in the way of our personal growth & development.

2.) Learn to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Maybe you’ll learn that their shoes were, in fact, a few sizes too small, and that’s why they were so cranky today.  Some people don’t have shoes to walk in, so give them a pair and count yourself lucky that you (hopefully) don’t have the same problem. Of course all this shoe-business is a metaphor, but I find it to be one of the best metaphors to live by.

3.) Seek out opportunities to make other people happy.  I don’t mean shallow flattery.  Bringing out real happiness in other people is hardwired in our brains as something that brings us pleasure.  Random acts of kindness are seriously lacking, and society needs everyday heroes just as much as gotham needs batman.

4.) Don’t be shitty to other people (pardon my French).  REGARDLESS OF WHO SOMEONE IS AND WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO YOU, DO NOT LET ANGER AND REVENGE CLOUD YOUR THINKING.  There is an old adage that sums it up perfectly; “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

5.) Tell the truth. This one is hard, especially for me.  No, I don’t mean to say that by day I serve as an agent of international espionage; but mundane or “white” lies eat at the core of a person’s being, and make life much more complex.  Having to remember which lies you told to who can complicate life to the “umphteenth” degree.  Even lies once small can grow into something much more menacing (as demonstrated by the once-popular kids show VeggieTales, in an episode where a lie starts as a small weed and grows large enough to destroy the entire town).  Essentially, lying can seem like the easy way out, but too often it’s more of a “out of the fire into the frying pan” situation.

6.) Find a hobby.  Whether it’s gardening, writing, skateboarding, parasailing, cooking, cleaning, skydiving, etc., having something to devote your spare time to can be a great way to be proactive and have fun at the same time. It’ll also help keep you away from the T.V. (note that watching CSI Miami doesn’t make my list of hobbies), and studies show that people who watch less TV are happier and more productive.

7.) Listen to music.  Whether you are an avid music listener or the occasional radio user, music can bring enormous benefits into your life.  Artists don’t make music just for the purpose of making a living; after all, who would buy it if it didn’t have a purpose?  Aside from the enjoyment felt when jamming out in the car to your favorite tunes, music often provides a much needed outlet for any pent up emotions one may experience.  Personally, I like to find artists who radiate the same “vibes” I’m feeling inside, and when a song resonates inside my mind with the same frequency as my thoughts, it can be an intensely cathartic experience. I think composer Frederick Delius put it aptly when he said, “Music is an outburst of the soul.”

8.) Always look for ways to improve yourself rather than finding flaws in others. This one is self-explanatory. I don’t care how much of an asshole the other guy is being, either be the bigger man (or woman) or be willing to walk away.

9.) Be willing to apologize and move on.  Swallow your pride.  Even if it isn’t your fault, apologizing *always* ends an argument. If the other party wishes to continue a fight, let them fume in their own anger and cleanse your hands of it. Look for every opportunity to make it up to the person.  Revenge is sweet but then again, so is soda, and we all know that enough of either can put a person 6 feet under in a hurry.

10.) Just try. Being a good person isn’t always easy, and often the line between being good and being not-so-good is thin and/or blurry. Simple things like refusing to participate in gossip or doing someone else’s chores without being asked are great places to start. Bringing good into the world is a domino effect and it only gets easier over time. Sewing the seeds of good in the hearts of those you encounter helps to ensure that the world will be a better place than it was when you woke up.  Wake up every morning and think to yourself: How can I make the world a better place today? Remember; it’s not always the big things that make the most difference.

Hopefully this list encourages you to go out and bring some good into the world. It was a good exercise in humility for me to write it, and I welcome any suggestions for additions.  Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day 🙂

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