Everyone has their own opinion on what makes someone a “good” person, but some traits — like empathy, compassion, and kindness — are universally considered part of the package.

It’s natural to wonder if others see you as a “good” person. But because personal opinions are based on individual interactions, there’s a good chance you’re the villain in someone’s story, even if most people have a favorable opinion of you.

Despite the fact that not everyone may view you as a “good” person, certain traits are associated with human goodness. If you exhibit those traits despite making a bad decision or two, chances are you still fall under the umbrella of “good” rather than “bad.”

A “good” person likely exhibits the following traits:

Empathy is your ability to relate to others. There are two types of empathy:

  • Cognitive empathy: being able to understand someone else’s perspective
  • Emotional empathy: being able to share in the emotional experiences of others

Putting them together creates a firm foundation for other pro-social behaviors like kindness and compassion.

“I think a very important trait of being a ‘good’ person is having empathy,” says Michelle Beaupre, a licensed clinical social worker and clinical director at Villa Oasis, Rancho Santa Fe, California. “It allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, see things from their perspective, and consider their emotions before acting or making decisions.”

Compassion is a deep awareness of and a strong desire to relieve the suffering of others. When you show someone compassion, you’re showing them support, letting them know that you care and want to do what you can to help.

“Compassion means having sympathy and concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others,” Beaupre says. “It involves showing kindness, understanding, and support to those in need, whether it be a friend, family member, or stranger.”

Compassion can make a difference in someone’s life and drive innovations that improve the lives of many people and communities.

If you’re considered kind, it usually means you treat people with respect, positivity, and goodwill. Kindness overlaps with compassion and empathy. It represents actions and behaviors aimed to improve someone else’s lived experience.

Courtney Morgan, a licensed professional counselor and founder of Counseling Unconditionally, Louisville, Kentucky, explains, “Kindness is one simple way to help others feel valued and important. Kind people will often include others, make efforts to acknowledge everyone, and compliment others. Their behavior makes us want to be around these ‘good’ people.”

Altruism represents selfless behaviors and thoughts. It concerns the well-being of others regardless of their social status, what they can offer you in repayment, or what supporting them costs you. Altruistic people are often involved in charity efforts, volunteering, and advocacy.

Research from 2023 shows altruism increases the overall happiness of both the helper and the helpee and is a phenomenon seen in cultures around the world.

Like many personality concepts, integrity is a collective term for thoughts, actions, and behaviors related to morality and ethics. If you’ve been told you have integrity or act with integrity, you most likely value:

  • honesty
  • reliability
  • humility
  • responsibility

“This means being honest, having strong moral principles, and sticking to them even when it’s not convenient or easy,” Beaupre states.

Beaupre adds that a person with integrity is trustworthy and can be counted on to do the right thing.

Inclusivity isn’t just making room for people because that’s what’s socially expected.

A genuinely inclusive person wants to create an environment where everyone is respected and valued, regardless of their perspective, identity, or background.

“This includes embracing differences, listening to others’ perspectives and opinions, and ensuring that everyone feels welcome. This helps others to show up as their authentic selves and feel safe doing so,” Morgan says.

Quotes about being a good person

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.” -The Dalai Lama

“Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.” – Andrew Iskander

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

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People are often too complex to be lumped under “good” or “bad.” Being a “good” person doesn’t mean you haven’t made choices you regret or picked the wrong path at some point in life.

Morgans states that it’s absolutely possible to be a ‘good’ person even if you’ve done something considered ‘bad’.

“I argue that most people have made at least a couple choices that they are not proud of, and this reality doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of being a ‘good’ person or creating a better future for themselves,” states Morgan.

She says she believes it’s never too late to turn things around. “I encourage people to take responsibility for their ‘bad’ behaviors and believe that the best apology is changed behavior.”

Affirmations to promote goodness

Affirming yourself can help you develop a more positive view of who you are as a person. Morgan suggests that you practice the following affirmations:

  • “Even here, I am growing.”
  • “I cannot control this situation, but I can control how I respond to it.”
  • “I am working to be a better person every day.”
  • “I am not the person I was before. I am growing, learning, and evolving every day.”
  • “I am the type of person I would want to be friends with.”
  • “I am choosing to be kind.”
  • “I am proud of my choices and decisions.”

Being a “good” person isn’t about being a perfect person. You’re allowed to make mistakes, go down a wrong path, and experience regret — as all people do.

Instead, being a “good” person means embracing qualities that promote positive outcomes and well-being for humanity as a whole. Compassion, empathy, integrity, and kindness are just a few examples of what makes someone “good.”