Some of these are not so obvious…
It does mean considering the feelings and thoughts of those around you, much of the time, with regards to your own behavior. It means behaving with a sense of care and consideration for other human beings.
This can look like: not blasting aloud music or videos from your phone on public transportation, for everyone else to then be forced into hearing (and, they are unable to escape it, since they need to ride that transport too). It can be not making that off-color joke when you know your aunt Gertie is in the room, who is quite bothered by these types of jokes.
It’s showing up generally on time and not making your loved ones wait. It’s using headphones when in public. It’s keeping your word so that people trust you. It’s not taking loud phone calls in otherwise generally quiet public spaces. It’s holding the door open for others. It’s turning toward people and tuning in. It’s acting in such a way that others around you often feel uplifted rather than brought down. It’s not littering. You get the idea.
Most people are way more interested in themselves.
Snapping selfies and then uploading them for validation and feedback. Speaking about their own experiences, opinions, and feelings. Thinking of their own to-do lists and life issues. Distracted by and hooked on their devices, whilst ignoring the people right in front of them (or, sort of, only half paying attention).
It’s rare today to find people who are genuinely interested in getting to know others. Who really want to know you, what you think, feel, the things you’ve experienced, your fears and dreams, the interesting life lessons that you too have to share, etc.
Most people don’t have either the attention span or the legitimate interest.
They’ll feign interest, or give some obligatory interest, but it isn’t deep.
To some degree, it’s human nature to be quite interested in yourself. It’s the experience you are living firsthand. Your own life, through your eyes. So yes, your own feelings, experiences, thoughts, challenges, etc, will be incredibly interesting and important to you, of course.
But, it’s the great people who also have just as much interest in others too.
The friend who takes the time to listen to your audios in a timely fashion and respond to them, or, who writes you long, storied emails in return. The person who puts in the effort to send you a handwritten card, either on a celebratory occasion or on a sad one. The loved one who, when you need someone to talk with, they are there to listen with empathy and offer sparing insights when needed.
But, there are a lot of people who hold grudges over things that maybe they need not, and for far too long. People who let anger, hurt, and rifts turn into wide chasms and gulfs, only to, later on, regret it.
Good, mature people recognize that, in all of us, there is both good and bad. We all have great traits, and we all have crappy ones. Areas in which we can stand to grow.
Yes, there will be some people whose crappy traits are deal-breakers for you. Whose weaknesses or character flaws are too much or make it too hard to have a good relationship with them. All fair enough.
But, great people tend to practice love, forgiveness, and flexibility much of the time with other people, when they can and when it seems right. Great people don’t give endless chances, but they do give them.
As in, they love to realize they are wrong, and then to learn where and how they were wrong. They delight in reading books, articles, and taking in new knowledge. They feel excited to understand something new which they didn’t before. They feel humbled and moved when they are positively surprised by something or someone. They revel in exploring, new places, getting to know different people, and considering novel ways of thinking.
They are open to being corrected, and not just open to it, they actually ruminate on and consider the alternate points and lessons the other person offers.
They are not often defensive, and they don’t write off things because they initially disagree. Instead, they turn towards it with curiosity and openness. They don’t feel threatened by being wrong. Instead, they feel intrigued. They are quick to give a heartfelt apology when they mess up.
This is not to say we should stick our heads in the sand, that we should live in denial, that we should dismiss these things and never speak of them. Not at all. We must acknowledge and discuss problems or else they will remain problems and never be solved.But, there is a difference between seeking misery and anger, and seeking joy.
Choose to focus on, see, and seek out joy. There is so much to be found in this world. Life is not as long as you think. It’s likely to result in regret later on for those who tend to focus a lot on the negative.
They do it because they genuinely want to help others, lift up others, get along well with others, and make the lives of others better.
They do it out of the kindness and warmth of their heart.
They keep their word. They make time for their friends and go out of their way to be with them. They prioritize the things that are important to them.
They maintain and care for their health because it’s one of the most crucial things they’ve got. They put in effort and consideration toward their romantic relationship because it’s important to them. They go the extra mile for their colleagues.
They don’t put things off all the time for “someday” and instead, do them now. They surprise a loved one with something to uplift them, just because. They take a Saturday to go volunteer at a place where people are in need. They read the essay or article carefully that someone they care about wrote. They put effort and thought into the gifts they get for their loved ones. They take the time to play and interact with their beloved pet.
They don’t half-ass much, if anything. Instead, they put their whole hearts and efforts into the things that they do, the things that matter to them.
In Conclusion, having these traits, of course, does not automatically mean someone is “great.” Not having some of these traits also does not automatically mean someone isn’t “great.” This is merely a (hopefully) thought-provoking list of traits that make a strong case for and imply someone who is likely to be great.