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How to Be a Good Person & 32 Ways to Transform Into a Better Human

Everyone wants to know how to be a good person, but what does that actually mean? In essence, you simply need to know how to be a better person first. 

how to be a good person and get better

Learning how to be a good person is the most essential life skill you can work toward. Most people don’t even bother and would rather harden their hearts to the rest of the world instead of learning to be vulnerable.

After all, we’re all wired to be selfish. But truth be told, it’s an admirable and precious trait to be considered a good person. But how do we learn to be a good person?

Usually, it starts with our parents. We learn just about everything from them – for better or for worse. They might have modeled highly respectable behavior that taught you how to be a good person. Or maybe they didn’t, and now you’re wondering how to improve yourself and figure out how to be a better person.

Another factor is your environment, so if you grew up in a particularly unhealthy environment, it’s possible nobody taught you how to be a good person. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for you [Read: Do you understand and embody the 15 good qualities of a person?]

Learning how to be a better person isn’t about never thinking of yourself

There are some people who care a whole lot about others, and then there are those who care a whole lot about themselves. The key to knowing how to become a good person is finding the balance between the two.

Caring more about others more than you do yourself doesn’t make you a better person. In fact, it can make you a nervous wreck. In the reverse, caring about yourself only, can lead to a life of struggle with those around you. [Read: 11 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

Why is it important to learn how to be a good person?

When you know how to be a good person, you have faith that you’re doing everything right. It means that you’re doing everything you can to improve yourself. As simple as it might seem to be a good person, it’s a big deal to the rest of the world.

Knowing how to be a good person affects all your relationships and friendships, including those you’re just about to have.

Also, it makes you reflect kindness and goodness to those that need it the most. You’re the light in times of darkness, and everyone needs that symbol of hope every now and then.

Most importantly, you’re the living proof that not all people are purely thinking of themselves and devoid of empathy or goodness. Being a good person means you know the proper way to treat those around you, and that’s everything. [Read: How to be kind to yourself & others & love life instead of hating it]

How to be a good person

Okay, so maybe your parents weren’t perfect and didn’t teach you how to be a good person. Well, we’re sure they did the best they could. So now it’s up to you! You can learn, you just have to put some effort into it.

But learning to be good is worth it. Here are a few steps you can take to learn how to be a better person.

1. If you say it, do it

Flaky people are the absolute worst. They say one thing and completely mean another, which makes them unreliable.

So if you want to know how to be a good person, stick to your word! If you say you’re going to do something but don’t, you let other people down. [Read: Here’s why you should always ditch people who flake on you]

And that’s not being a good person. It’s not that hard to have integrity or stand by what you promised you’d do! So, if you say it… do it. Don’t keep disappointing people by letting them down on your word.

2. Have empathy for others

We hate to break it to you, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. Nor does it revolve around us. Or anyone else for that matter. My point is that your needs and desires aren’t more important than other people’s. Even if you don’t agree with them, it doesn’t matter. That is their experience.

You should live by the motto, “perception is reality.” Practicing empathy will encourage you to become a better person, and it will always help your relationships and friendships thrive further. Don’t get caught up in being self-absorbed. [Read: 13 inspiring ways to bring out the best in yourself]

3. Don’t waste other people’s time

Time is a fragile yet concrete thing. It’s why we don’t like wasting our time with insignificant time and people – because we can never get that time wasted back. Maybe you’re not a time-conscious person, and so you always run late.

And maybe you don’t think it’s a big deal because time isn’t important to you. But it’s a crucial thing for everyone else. So being a good person requires knowing the value of time.

4. Take personal responsibility

Don’t blame other people. Even if they really are to blame, don’t go on and on about it. Look at any situation and try to see how your behavior played a part in how it turned out. Avoiding accountability doesn’t make you a good person, but it makes others not want to be around you.

So if you’re going to learn how to be a good person, learn to admit your mistakes and wrongdoings. It is not a weakness to admit when you did something wrong. In fact, it’s the mature thing to do. [Read: Emotional maturity – 20 clues to know if someone has it]

5. Don’t take anything personally

We live in a culture where it’s so easy to take everything very personally, even when it’s not directed at us. So many people get offended at every little teensy tiny thing anyone says or does.

But listen, what other people say or do is usually not about YOU. It is about them. It is a reflection of how they feel about themselves.

So, don’t lash out at people when you feel like they upset you. Remember, no one can offend you unless you allow them to. So instead of taking everything personally, understand that what they’re saying might not be intended directly towards you. [Read: How to stop being so sensitive about everything all the time]

6. Be self-aware

If you want to understand the world and improve your relationships, it takes a lot of self-awareness. In order to learn how to be a good person, you have to be aware of how and why you do *or say* the things you do. Self-awareness really is the key to learning how to be a good person.

When you are self-aware, you help others understand you. And when they understand you, they are more likely to want to have a peaceful relationship with you. [Read: How to improve yourself – 16 powerful secrets to self-improvement]

7. Understand the consequences of your actions

Everything you do has a specific consequence. Whether good or bad, that’s entirely up to the choices you make.

There’s no escaping the results of your actions. Your actions affect other people just as much as it affects you. Just as a pebble in the water sends out ripples, so does your behavior.

Even if you’re just grumpy, trust us, it affects the people around you. So, make sure all of your actions are as positive as you can make them, because you want to make sure that you are a happy influence on other people.

8. Think before you speak

We’ve all said pretty hurtful things without thinking before speaking, after which we end up regretting immensely. You’ve hurt someone in the process and also appeared like a bad person. You can’t take it back after it’s out there. [Read: How to be classy – 20 traits that command awe and respect]

Even if you apologize until you’re blue in the face, you can’t undo any damage that might have been done after you say something you might regret. So, before you say anything *especially if you are angry* stop to think about it.

Is it kind or necessary? Is it helpful? If it’s not, then don’t say it. Unless the words you say are helpful or kind, it’s better not to speak.

9. Remember the Golden Rule

We all learned this in kindergarten, right? But how many of us actually live by the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have done to you.

It’s a pretty simple concept, isn’t it? So why is it so difficult for people to actually live by this wisdom?

If you want to learn how to be a good person, just treat others the way you would like to be treated – simple as that. Just as you should think about what you say before you say it, think about how your actions would affect another person. If it’s going to hurt you if the roles were reserved, don’t do it.

10. Love yourself

We know how cliche this is as you hear this advice all the time. But you really need to love yourself to be a good person. People who love themselves naturally love others too. So if you love others, how can you treat them badly?

But if you don’t, you’ll constantly end up projecting all your negativity and anger to others who never deserved it in the first place. If you want to know how to be a good person, you must accept all parts of yourself.

And when you do, it will be instinctual to do good in this world… and be a good person. [Read: The rules of life – 22 secrets to never be unhappy again]

11. Compliment others

Compliments go a long way when it comes to being a good person. It helps you spread positivity and encouragement to others without them realizing it. As long as the compliments you give are honest and genuine, it’s a simple way to start being a good person.

When you compliment others, you make them feel good, and they’ll always associate this feel-good emotion with you. So give compliments and make sure they’re genuine!

Also, don’t just focus on physical compliments, but also their personality traits and characteristics. [Read: The best compliments for girls – 25 genuine lines she’ll love to hear]

12. Respect people

Respect is such an admirable and significant trait that is rarely seen in people today. When you respect people, you’re naturally a good person.

So whether it’s respecting their boundaries, treating them like an equal, respecting their opinions and thoughts, or just being a nice person to them, respect really does go a long way. If you want to know how to be a good person, respect is a pretty good place to start. [Read: How to show respect in a relationship and love each other better]

13. Be selfless and considerate

This is an essential piece of advice when it comes to being a good person. Selfishness will never get you anywhere as you’re only thinking of yourself. We’re all wired to be selfish, so it’s going to take a lot of relearning to be selfless and considerate to the needs of others.

Instead of constantly thinking about your own needs, think of how you can help others. This kind of thinking will come a long way in being a better person. [Read: Selfishness in relationships – 15 tips to do the right thing]

14. Be grateful

Gratitude is something good people naturally have, especially when they express appreciation for others. So in being a good person, be grateful for the people and things around you instead of constantly complaining.

Not only does this make you a good person, but it makes you an admirable person to be around. Anyone with this kind of appreciation makes you a refreshing person to be around, and people will always want to be with you. [Read: How to be grateful – 20 authentic ways to appreciate and express it]

15. Be kind to everyone

Kindness truly goes a long way when learning how to be a good person. It might seem like such an ordinary thing, but kindness can change the world. When you’re kind, you’re being the light to someone’s darkness.

Also, you never truly know what someone’s dealing with, so kindness goes a long way even if it’s the smallest gesture. Don’t just be kind to your loved ones, but be kind to everyone *even to those you find annoying or don’t like*. [Read: 250+ really warm and nice things to say to people and truly make their day]

16. Don’t judge other people

One of the worst traits that human beings possess is being judgmental. Having the ability to judge is an important evolutionary skill that we have. When you see a situation, you are trained to assess it to decipher whether you are in danger and how you should react.

Unfortunately, it can also lead to making assumptions about people that aren’t real. When you point your finger at someone, you have four more pointing back at you. [Read: How to be less critical of people around you]

If you hear gossip, see someone being ugly, or walk into something that wasn’t meant for your eyes or ears, try to reserve judgment. There are always two sides to every story. Assuming that you know the whole story or the motivation of another person can do a lot of damage.

Stay out of things that have nothing to do with you, and try not to judge what others do. You never know how you would react or behave until a situation presents itself to you. So, don’t presume that you would have done something better than anyone else in their shoes. [Read: 10 simple ways to become a more socially conscious person]

17. Don’t gossip or spread rumors

If you want to know how to become a better person, you need to mind your own business. If you are worried about a friend, then confront them.

Using the guise of worry to talk badly about others, or talking about others behind their back, whether it is true or not, is one of the most destructive human behaviors there is.

If you know someone or not, they are not a source of debate for you or the group you talk to. The only life you have to worry about is your own, so don’t discuss what someone else is doing with other people. It isn’t your business, and it isn’t helpful.

Once more, if someone talks badly or tells you something personal about someone else, choose not to listen and let them know that you don’t think it is cool. Being a better person involves not talking badly.

Being an even better one involves stopping others from being ugly. Remember, if a person is talking badly about someone to you, likely, they are talking badly about you to someone else. [Read: How to stop negative people from sapping your energy]

18. Don’t hold grudges

If you are wronged by someone, it does no good to hold a grudge or not to forgive. Even if they haven’t asked for your forgiveness, being upset or angry does nothing to hurt the other person, it only makes you angry and spiteful.

If someone hurts your feelings or does something that makes you mad, turn the other cheek to be a better person. They may not deserve your forgiveness, but you certainly don’t deserve to carry around the baggage of anger either.

19. Always assume the best

Always expect and assume that people are coming from a good place. Making assumptions about someone’s motives or intentions taints any situation and is a negative way of looking at things.

If you constantly approach a situation expecting the worst, you are setting yourself up for failure. A self-fulfilling prophecy, what you expect is typically what you get from people. Instead of assuming that someone hurt you on purpose, assume that they didn’t, and move on from it. [Read: How to be charming and liked by everyone]

20. Volunteer when you can

If you want to know how to become a better person, try to give some of your time to someone in need. There are a ton of organizations that need help.

Whether it is a food bank or Hospice, helping someone in crisis will give you a different perspective on life. Seeing the struggles of others can help you to feel more blessed, and also make your own issues seem small. If you want to learn how to be a better person, volunteering will definitely help. [Read: 11 simple ways to inspire the people around you]

21. Be a good listener

Sometimes the best way to be a better person is to take the time to listen. Too often we are so wrapped up in our own head or drama that we stop listening to those around us.

If you focus on things outside yourself and allow someone to vent, you are spreading peace in your life. Be the person who people can come to who doesn’t judge, won’t repeat what they are told, and listens thoughtfully without telling someone what to do. Be the person who truly just listens.

22. Don’t try to be perfect

Sometimes the reason you want to become a better person is that you care too much about what people think… and you don’t have faith that you are a good person. If you are even considering how to become a better person, then you have goodness in your heart.

Not a single one of us is perfect. And, the harder we try to be perfect, the more unhappy it can make us. Part of being a good person is not only forgiving and being kind to those around you, but also to yourself.

Knowing how to become a better person includes understanding more, forgiving more, giving more of yourself, and loving yourself. If you are too hard on other people, give them a break. If you are too hard on yourself, do the same. [Read: The rules of life – 22 secrets to never be unhappy again]

23. When you make a mistake, accept what you’ve done

We know you want to be a better person, but if you genuinely want to know how to be a better person, the shit you dusted under the rug? Lift up the rug and give it a good vacuum.

How can you be a better person when you accept your past and continue to hide it? Now, you don’t have to go on Dr. Phil, you just need to accept what you’ve done and perhaps do some apologizing. [Read: How to grow up and face life like an adult]

24. Cut the excuses

Now that you think about everything you’ve done, you probably have a list of excuses for why you did what you did. We don’t want to hear the excuses. Stop pointing the finger and just acknowledge what you did. Then, you learn from your mistake and become the person you want to be.

25. Learn to forgive yourself and others

This isn’t going to be easy and for many of you, resenting someone is what makes you wake up and go to work. But it shouldn’t be like that.

This isn’t about them, this is purely about you. Harboring those feelings of resentment only holds you back and keeps those negative feelings and memories alive. [Read: How to forgive someone and unburden your mind]

26. Work on honesty

Usually, when we think about bad people, we tend to associate them with dishonesty. You may have been lied to in the past and from that hurt, you now act in the same way.

You’re going to have to grow up and work on being an honest person. There’s nothing wrong with expressing your feelings and thoughts. If anything, people respect you more for it.

27. Do things without self-interest

We’re not going to lie, most of us only do things if there’s some sort of self-interest involved. For example, if you go to the gym, you work out because it improves your health and appearance. You wouldn’t go otherwise. But attempt things that don’t actually benefit you.

For example, if you want to know how to be a better person and take little steps towards being one, help someone take their groceries to the car or pay for the coffee of the person behind you. [Read: 20 positive ways to pay it forward and create a chain of goodwill]

28. Write down your beliefs and values

Sometimes we disconnect from ourselves and get lost and tied up in a world that doesn’t necessarily represent ourselves.

Take some time to write down your beliefs and values. Reconnect with yourself and what you believe in. It helps you to stay on track with who you think you are and the direction you want to go to.

29. Don’t be scared to give

Buy your mother flowers one random day, treat your friend to a coffee. Don’t be afraid to give. Many people are concerned about whether they’ll be paid back, etc. But this shouldn’t be your concern.

You buy this person a coffee because you want to, not because they buy the next round. Don’t be scared to give and don’t expect to receive. [Read: 12 ways to finally start living for yourself]

30. Be present

We’re so connected to social media and our phones in general that we completely disconnect from what’s happening around us. Now, this won’t necessarily make you a better person, however, by not being glued to your phone, you become present.

You see things that you wouldn’t have seen, have conversations that you normally wouldn’t have. These experiences positively affect you.

31. Change the way you solve problems

Perhaps why you think you’re a bad person is because of the way you solve issues. You wouldn’t be feeling this way if you dealt with issues in a different way.

So, really reflect and look at the way you solve your typical problem, do you see anything wrong? If someone says no, you can’t do this or that, do you lie and do it anyway? How could you change that? [Read: How to fine tune your internal compass]

32. You have to want to change

This is really the only way it works. If someone forces you to change, it won’t work. You need to want to change and see that you’re not the person you want to be. It’s the only way you actually take the steps forward into being a better person.

So, how to be a good person?

It takes a little effort and empathy to be a good person, but it’s an essential life skill to live your best life. When you’re a good person, you get to encourage those around you to live a life full of kindness, empathy, generosity, and respect.

This road of self-improvement is one that can make others feel great around you, and in turn, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself and love yourself a lot more as well.

Start small, but you’ll notice the results of your actions almost immediately. Now all you need to do is take this first small step to a kinder, and happier life.

[Read: How to stop lying to yourself and to the people who love you]

If you want to learn how to be a good person, these are great starting points to get better at life. You need to work for it and most importantly, you should want to be a good person from within, and not just to fake it to the world!

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...