If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to be a better person next year, knowing what to prioritize can go a long way toward helping you keep it. Below, I’m sharing 10 traits that good people have in common to help you out with that. Just keep reading!
10 Things to Prioritize to Be a Better Person Next Year
First, I just want to say that if you’re making a New Year’s Resolution to become a better person, you’re probably already a pretty good person. After all, truly bad people don’t really care about improving the way they treat others. That said, I think we all always have room for improvement and more that we could be doing to make this world a brighter place for everyone.
With that in mind, I’m sharing the traits that I think we should prioritize to help us stick to our “be a better person” resolution. They’re in no particular order. As usual, I’ve shared some of my favorite quotes for each one.
I know I said that these “good people traits” aren’t in any specific order, but kindness is kind of the exception. It’s basically the foundation on which all other traits stand if that makes sense. If we don’t care about being kind to each other, then we will never truly become better people.
Being kind to others doesn’t mean being a pushover. It doesn’t mean saying “yes” to everything or bottling up your emotions. It literally means “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
Empathy kind of goes hand-in-hand with kindness because one leads to the other. It’s a tricky trait because it means that we have to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and really try to understand what each other is feeling.
That’s not always easy because we’re all writing our own stories, and none of us really know what each other is truly going through. Psychology Today has a pretty good and easy-to-read article on how to be more empathetic. I recommend checking that out if you need help in this department.
When I think of all of the times I’ve snapped at someone or been less than my ideal self, I realize that it all boils down to one thing: impatience. We’re very much an “instant gratification” society. We want what we want and we want it NOW.
Being a more patient person takes A LOT of practice. Believe me, I know. One way to help master it is to put yourself in situations where you HAVE to be patient. For example, go to the longest checkout line, or to the post office on a Saturday morning during the holiday season. It sounds silly, but it does help you learn to control your impatient tendencies.
Charity means a lot of different things, but there are two definitions of the word that I think applies here. The first one is “the voluntary giving of help to those in need.” The “help” doesn’t just have to be money. Anything that you choose to do to help someone else counts as charity.
The second definition is “kindness and tolerance in judging others.” While we really should strive to stop judging others period, it’s kind of human nature to do so. So at the very least, we should do it with kindness and tolerance in our hearts.
One of the most important traits that all good people have in common is their ability to forgive. As I’ve said before, forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It just means letting go of the anger that you feel towards someone, and not using their past actions to justify mean behavior in the future.
It’s also important to forgive yourself for your past mistakes. You can’t go back in time to fix them. All you can do is move forward and become a better person in the future.
Good people listen more than they speak. They also try to make sure they’re really hearing what the other person is saying. We can’t make the world a better place for all if we’re not really listening to what each other needs.
By the way, if you have teenagers, they’re the perfect place to start practicing active listening skills. A 2021 study found that when parents use active listening, their teenagers are more likely to be open and honest with them.
Focus on spending more time doing the things you love with the people you love the most, and you’ll find it much easier to become a better person. Spending more time with the things that matter most leaves us with less time to spend on the things that are most likely to bring out our bad side. It’s basic math. Think about it, if you’re spending a free hour with your children making memories, that’s one less hour you have to get into arguments with strangers on social media.
Responsibility, Repentance & Reparation
Yes, that’s three things but they all go together. First, I don’t mean reparation in the political sense, or in the “giving money to right a wrong” sense. I mean it in the “act of repairing what was damaged” sense. The same goes for repentance. I’m not talking about the religious meaning of the word, but rather the “sincere regret or remorse” sense of the word.
Put all together, what I’m trying to say is good people take responsibility for their actions rather than trying to find someone else to blame. When their actions cause harm to others, they feel genuine remorse and actively seek to repair the damage that they’ve caused.
It sounds like a strange thing to prioritize when you’re trying to be a better person, but if you think about it, it really does make sense. Good people have the courage to stand up for themselves and others. They’re brave enough to do what must be done to make the world a better place, even if it makes them unpopular among their peers.
It sounds counterintuitive to say that self-care will make you a better person, but it really does help! Remember that you can’t care for others if you’re not caring for yourself.
When we’re exhausted, we’re quick to anger. When we’re emotionally wrung out, we find it hard to have empathy for others. When we’re sick, we don’t really have the energy to actively listen or engage in charity. When we’re stressed out, we’re not really in the mood to spend time with friends and family.
Simply put, we’re at our worst behavior-wise when we’re not feeling our best. So definitely make self-care a priority this year!
It takes more than 10 things to be a truly better person, but if you put these at the top of your list the rest will fall into place. Once again, though, I just want to remind you that if you’re reading this, you’re already a good person, because you care enough to try to be better.
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