Posted by: Brad Stanford | June 3, 2017

Being A Good Person

Humans spend a lot of time on making themselves feel good. I’m not talking about gratuitous pleasure, although that’s part of it. I mean we try to stay away from pain. Be it a basic pain like hunger pains, or a more sophisticated pain like projecting an image, the majority of our time is spent on pain management.

Being a good* person – whatever that means to you – is definitely pain management. We feel bad if we’re not the person we wish to be, and we feel good when we are that imaginary person. The problem is other layers of pain management can get crossways with the goal of being a good person. One of the biggest layers is self honesty.

Calling yourself out on your own junk seems at first to take a lot of courage all the time. But that’s not true. It only takes a lot of courage the first time. The rest of the time, it hurts too much to be dishonest with yourself than living knowing that you’re lying to yourself. Once you reach that point, it’s actually – well – natural.

You see, being a good person is not about making perfect choices all the time. It’s about living with the big picture as the backdrop to your life. It’s one thing to help someone because you want to be a good person. It’s a completely different thing to help them because you are a good person.

Anything you really are is essentially a decision that’s been made in advance, either by your DNA or by an actual choice made in anticipation of life. In general, DNA tends to make us self-absorbed. We are driven by our own survival, our own hunger, our own desires. So that natural decision has been made. You will, more than likely, be naturally selfish.

So then it follows that being a good person – someone who is self-controlled, kind, loving, giving, etc – is a decision. but it’s not a decision to do good things. Any bad person can do good things. The doing is not the distinguishing factor. Who you really are, is.

The decision then, is not asking moment by moment, “What’s the right answer in this case?” The decision is, “What principles will I live by that will not be changed by circumstances?” These are principles without conditions attached.

Look at these two statements:

“I will be kind if you’re kind to me.”

“I will be kind.”

The first statement has a condition on it. The second does not. The first statement is said by someone trying to be good. The second is said by someone who actually is good.

Unconditional principles are the mark of someone who is something. Everyone else is projecting something. The disconnect for most is that they don’t have enough self-awareness to alert themselves to the discrepancy.

The good news is that anyone who wants to be something different than they are can be. But it takes the courage to judge oneself with the measure used to judge others. And for most, it’s simply less painful to not go there.

Don’t be most people.

 

*For some these days, the words “good” and “bad” are troublesome because of a lack of any one person’s authority to universally define those terms. I find this to be troublesome in itself. In short, if you don’t know what “good” means, then by default the opportunity to be a good person is not available to you. Feel free skip to the next article.

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