45 Ways to Be a Better Person

Road Less Travelled“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart.” ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn

As a reflection of the human desire to rise to the moral occasion, here is a list of 45 ways of becoming a little more devoted to timeless principles in our ongoing and collective effort at becoming better people.

How to Be a Better Person

1. Forgive those who have offended you, even if they’re not sorry.

2. Thank those who have helped you, even if they’ve never thanked you for what you’ve done.

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” ~James D. Miles

3. Be kind to those you need nothing from.

4. Care how strangers feel, even if they don’t care how you feel.

“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” ~Will Rogers

5. Weigh your words and actions and care how they impact others.

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” ~David Star Jordan

6. Never use lousy emotions to justify lousy behavior.

7. Want to be a better person, hunger for it, value it, prioritize it; you will more likely take steps toward it.

8. Practice being better by doing what decent people do even if you don’t feel like it.

“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.” ~Thomas Babington Macaulay

9. Do good even when no one is looking and there’s nothing in it for you.

10. Let go of anger and never use it as an excuse to treat others poorly.

“You do not wake up one morning a bad person. It happens by a thousand tiny surrenders of self-respect to self-interest.” ~Robert Brault

11. Let go of selfishness by loving others as much as yourself.

12. Let go of self-abuse by loving yourself enough to love others.

13. Always love people more than you love things; the things won’t care one way or another, but the people will.

14. Learn to love the loveless.

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.” ~J.C. Watts

15. Do a kind deed anonymously.

16. Make all decisions by first consulting your values; every important decision you make is an extension of your character.

17. Let your conscience speak louder than your heart.

“Conscience is that still, small voice that is sometimes too loud for comfort.” ~Bert Murray

18. Pray for the desire and strength and stamina to live a kind, compassionate, loving, courageous life.

19. Accept that others have a right to disagree with you.

20. Accept responsibility for your actions, thoughts, interpretations, attitudes, feelings, emotions and, in the long-run, your life circumstances.

“Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one.” ~Chinese Proverb

21. Do what’s right just because it is.

22. Hold the door even if you’re not attracted to the person you’re holding it for.

23. Let the driver merge even if you’re in a hurry

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” ~Alan Simpson

24. Tell the truth even if it hurts you.

25. Never use the truth as a weapon to hurt others.

26. Refuse to be the sewage line that allows crap about others to pass through you into the larger cesspool of gossip.

27. Don’t say “yes” if you intend “no.”

28. Care more about truth than your image.

“Character is doing the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay.” ~Michael Josephson

29. Instead of getting mad at the delay, pray for the people in the accident.

30. Surround yourself with others who are working at being better people too.

31. Work on your character every single day you’re alive.

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” ~George Washington

32. Spend time daily thinking about moral questions.

33. Plan and practice moral responses to tempting circumstances.

34. Let the person in the checkout line behind you with only one item go before you.

35. Visit someone in need just to say hello and give them your love.

36. Give up something you love (a thing, money, time) to help someone in need.

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

37. Care more about learning what’s right than being or appearing right.

38. Be willing to change your mind once you see another’s opinion is better than your own.

39. Accept that becoming a better person takes time and patience and failure and growth.

“Your life may be the only Bible some people read.” ~Author Unknown

40. Be conscious that every word and every action is a ripple sent out into the world.

41. Be conscious that we are always an example to others — your kids, others’ kids, neighbors, family, even strangers — for good and ill, but our lives are always instructing others how to live; be sure yours is not leading others down self-destructive paths.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke

42. Have the courage to stand up and do what’s right even when you’re the only one standing.

43. Have the courage to stand against evil even when it’s uncomfortable to do so or no one else is willing to.

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

44. Read literature that inspires decency; act on the inspiration.

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.” ~Thomas Paine

45. Don’t give up. Ever. And enjoy the process of becoming a better person … one step at a time!

Your Turn!

  • What suggestions do you have for becoming a better person this year?
  • How have you become a better person from last year?
  • What areas or traits are you going to work on this year?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Note: Check out my guest post at Motivational Memo called 6 Life Lessons Learned from Teaching High School! It’s a follow-up article to Life 101: Life Lessons from a Decade of Teaching Teens

Photo credit: Stefano Liboni and Kev Moses