There are common qualities in good people in life: the supportive, encouraging, and inspiring figures that change lives and make the world a better place. Their existence is subtle: they don’t need to draw attention to themselves, opting out of the spotlight to live a simpler life, but nonetheless encouraging and inspiring us. We know they exist: because we’ve crossed paths with them before. In line at a grocery store, in a classroom, or sitting next to us on a plane.
These people aren’t born. They are made. By their own hand and their response to their experiences in life. Here are some of the common themes I, and others, have seen in this rare breed of human being.
- They challenge us. They ask us why we do what we do, and why we think the way we think. They do not shoot down ideas or belittle us, but challenge our ideas to ensure what we’ve decided to do is what is best for us.
- They lead by example. They set an example of behaviour by acting in ways that they feel is good and right: be it staying calm in the face of hostility, extending their hand to help others, or remembering to smile, especially during the tough times.
- They’re introspective: they reflect on their actions and hold themselves to a higher standard, always noting how they can improve, and how easy it is to fall from their ethical standards.
- They set boundaries: good people will stand up for themselves and others, not reverting to expectations of how others work. They’ll, sometimes bluntly, tell people where their lines are, and not to cross them. They look out for others: and themselves.
- They’re encouraging: pushing us to commit to our passions, interests, and tasks in life. They remind us that we can still pick up the guitar and learn music, go travelling, volunteer at the local animal shelter, and do the things we always say we want to do.
- They always try to find the good in a situation: they don’t disregard the reality of what is infront of them, but they always look to see what can be done, and what is beneficial for our wellbeing to focus on.
- They teach: like a good parent, teacher, or mentor, they’ll give time to help others by offering tidbits of wisdom and insight. That is, if someone asks for it.
- They give us the spotlight: when you interact with them, they somehow make you feel like you have their undivided attention. Even when they’re working on a project or interacting with people in passing, it feels like they’re fully invested in you in that moment, listening to every word you say.
- They have a philosophy: good people almost always have a code or guide they live their lives by. This code is rarely ever public or commented on, but they adhere to certain rationale’s for how they live life. You’ll hear it in passing: “I always tell myself that i’ll be okay,” or “all I can do is what I believe is right.”
- They’re simple: in today’s age of complexity and anxiety, they’re often living life by a way of simplicity. They don’t own as much, focusing on what’s needed and what’s valuable to them, they acknowledge and try to spend more time with the things and people that matter in their life, and they try to distill the complexities of life to be as simple as possible. It makes life easier to live, when you understand plainly what is important and what isn’t.
- They care: they have something in their life that matters to them, and it is a prominent part of their days and weeks. This can be a charitable cause, a child, or their work. And they care about the people around them. When they interact with others, they meet them where they’re at, acknowledging their life experiences. They’re focused more outwards than inwards.
These are the qualities that I have seen in good people throughout my life. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are plenty qualities that I have missed. However, these are the common ones that I have seen in many people throughout my life. And they appear everywhere. Whether it’s the prominent public figure leading the charge on lifting people out of poverty, the teacher that brings the best out of you, or the young 20-something that starts a conversation with you when you’re on the bus: the way they conduct themselves in life is subtle, yet inspiring. When you walk away from that interaction, a part of you feels a bit better. Like you’ve been reminded that there is some good in the world. But they’re only noticed when we pay attention.