Better Person Principle #5: Being A Better Person is a Choice

being a better person

Today’s better person principle is that being a better person is a choice. 

Here’s what I mean. 

Have you ever had a moment where you look at someone who did something you admire or that you just respect in general and think, they’re just a better person than I am? Like being a decent human is something that’s a genetic trait, like having curly hair or a knack for numbers? 

I mean, a lot of us have. It’s not a bad thing to acknowledge when you think someone else is a good person. But you’ve got to be careful that you don’t bake it into your brain the being a better person is somehow a something you either have or don’t have. 

Listen to the Podcast Here

Everyone has inherent goodness

Sometimes perhaps it’s a little more at the surface in some people, which can make it seem like they have more goodness than you do. But they don’t. 

Everyone has inherent goodness.  It’s just a matter of choosing to access it. 

Everyday, you’re faced with hundreds of decisions, and it’s in those decisions where you have the potential to move toward better. 

When your plane is delayed, you could either go yell at the customer service agent who has nothing whatsoever to do with the delay. Or you could choose to take pause for a moment or two, maybe take a couple deep breaths or maybe vent to your partner and then you gather yourself enough to be able to have a normal intensity conversation with the agent. Maybe you even opt to say something that helps you connect, like, “Jeez, it must not be easy to be you right now.” And then they’re more likely to go the extra keystroke to help you. And you’re more likely to head back to the waiting area feeling like you did right by yourself. 

So, if being better is a choice, what’s the motivation behind that choice? 

It’s ultimately to feel better about yourself. It’s continually opting to do the things that make you feel like a decent human being. I mean, we’ve all those dark moments where we wonder, am I a bad person? Or, what am I all about? Or, what am I doing with my life? Right? Those moments may be necessary, but they are no fun. 

Choosing to be better helps you sleep at night, because you feel less regret or shame about the way things went down. 

It doesn’t mean you get it right all the time. We’re all messes on some level. We all have petty thoughts, have ways that we’re stingy, can be judgmental, or irresponsible, or self-absorbed. But you are open enough to be aware of your own messiness, and you care enough to try to do things differently next time. You give a shit. 

And the good news is that the more you choose the things that make you feel better about yourself, the more automatic those choices become, because choosing the better option feels GOOD, and we naturally want to perpetuate good feelings. 

The takeaway for this better person principle is this: Respond instead of react. A response is conscious; it’s a choice. A reaction is a reflex; it’s unconscious. 

Tiny Daily Assignment

Your tiny assignment is, the next time you face a choice that involves being a better person, pause long enough to decide how you want to respond. It’ll take awareness (which I talked about in episode 508), and you might need to remind yourself to look for the opportunity (which I talked about in episode 509), and you might NOT choose to respond in the most obviously ‘good’ way, because there’s a time and a place for everything (which I talked about in episode 510). But that little pause will help you get out of reactive mode and do the thing that nudges your individual needle toward your individual definition of better. 

I just want to thank you for listening to these principles this week and for giving a shit. I hope you have a great weekend. 


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

Subscribe on iTunes Get podcast news