Recently, several people I know — and like — were saying that someone else that I know — and like — had done something offensive.
It would have been easy to rush to judgment, but instead, I found myself immediately wondering… had I ever made a similar mistake?
Had I unintentionally offended someone? Had I said the wrong thing?
Truth be told, I couldn’t judge the person who was “guilty” of this perceived wrongdoing, because I recognized that I’ve probably made similar mistakes myself. (You know, glass houses and all.)
And here’s why: I’m not always a good person, but I try to be. The thing is, being a good person is hard.
Shockingly, I realize that I will never be perfect. ;-)
I will never be above reproach. I will never be safe in judging another human being’s actions because I will always secretly be questioning if I’ve ever made a similar mistake.
And that’s OK, because acknowledging that I’m not perfect, and yet, continuously trying to improve, is exactly what being a good person is about.
Being a good person is about caring what other people think, and more importantly, how we make them feel, and knowing that we won’t always get it right.
It’s about admitting that there is a dark part in each of us that sometimes lashes out, that feels angry some days, and maybe even has days that we WANT to offend someone… to show that we’re right, to put someone else in their place.
Being a good person means that we try our best to be kind instead, to be thoughtful instead; to say the right things instead of the wrong things. Even knowing that there isn’t really ever one right thing, and that what is right for one person may feel wrong to another.
And yet, we keep trying because our goal is not to inflict pain, not to upset people, not to offend anyone, but always to impart enthusiasm, joy, and compassion in others. All the things we want for ourselves.
It’s true, being a good person is hard. And yet, I’ll keep trying.
And so every day in many ways I will continue to be flawed. I will react without patience. I will secretly think something judgmental. But, the good news is that as it happens, I will hear my own voice in my head and correct that thought. I will try to squelch words that hurt before they make it out of my mouth. I will admit that being a good person is a journey to a destination that I may never reach, but I’ll be damned if I’ll stop trying.
Here are a few ways to be a good person, or if you’re like me, maybe just be a better person. That’s a start!
Accept apologies. Even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t want to. Even when you’d like to let the other person suffer a little bit because they hurt you and you believe that accepting their apology will absolve them of some guilt.
Always accept apologies; do so as quickly as humanly possible. Say it out loud. “Apology accepted.” Say it loud enough that your soul hears the words.
You can even accept an apology when you’re still working through the anger that you have towards the person who wronged you. Accepting an apology doesn’t have to mean the situation is resolved, but it does mean that you are willing to give up the anger and move forward.
Have hope. It’s tough to be a good person if you can’t hope for a better day tomorrow. Sometimes people will be mean, sometimes things will go wrong.
Many of these things aren’t about you, so if you can find a way to always have hope in the better side of people, in the silver lining, in the underdog, you’ll become a better person yourself. And that is the whole point.
Say nice things and swallow bad things. This one is key. When you have a compliment in your mind, put it on your lips.
If you have something to say that isn’t kind, work hard at not saying it. It takes some training and you may never be really good at it, but is long as you’re trying, you’re on the path
Put your pride on the line. Tell people how much you care about them, tell people how much they mean to you. Take the chance that they may not feel the same. Take the chance that they may not accept your embrace… because even if someone chooses to walk away from you, they will do so with the gift that you wanted them. And that is good.
Some say that without bad we would not know what good is. I agree. It’s easy to be a jerk, but being a good person is hard. Keep trying anyway. I know I will.
Have you mastered the art of being kind? Do you sometimes struggle with doing the “right thing?” Let’s talk! Share your thoughts in the comments below…