Maybe lately you've been notching change within you. Picture this, You are approaching a local grocery store along with a small family to your left. You reach the front door of the store before they do but the family is shortly behind you. You have two choices, A you hold the door and offer a hello, or B you walk through the door and ignore them.
This is a good example of a moral dilemma. A Moral dilemma is the inability to make a decision that conflicts with what you believe based on your morals and value system. So imagine having a person who checks every box on the good person scale (not a real scale), but this one day, in particular, is in a hurry so she doesn't hold the door as she normally would do.
At this moment she may not be focused on the effects of her actions. While the family behind them had a door shut in their faces, they are now assuming that woman is a "bad" person. Naturally, we make this basis of good and bad based on the actions people around us choose. For instance, we are very receptive to a hug. It's a nice boost in serotonin and makes us feel safe if offered by a friend. We would attribute this to a good feeling we have, which in turn will allow us to make the same inference about the person who gave the hug.
The fact that you question whether you are good or bad means you are human. Humans by nature constantly evaluate themselves and each other (mostly each other). Those who evaluate themselves regularly and truly listen and abide by their needs, grow to live much more fulfilling lives.
For this Self Evaluation I pose three main questions:
What makes a person good or bad?
How do I determine if I'm good or bad?
How do I become better?
By the end of this writing, you should be able to answer these questions confidently. Doing this will allow you to understand the internal process that works within us.
Firstly, being a "good" person is rarely a black and white narrative. Morality isn't black and white. This is why many moral dilemmas don't have a simple or “good” solution. Acknowledging this fact makes a world of difference in how we perceive ourselves. This means that even if you make a bad decision that affects someone negatively, that doesn't mean you are a bad person. Being a bad person means you religiously make bad decisions while being fully conscious and aware of your actions. For example. The person who is generally good but failed to hold the door, just because she failed once doesn't mean all of her victories are downsized. The person who is bad on the other hand would willingly fail to hold the door. This person may even enjoy actions such as this as they know it is affecting someone else negatively.
The first sign of good or bad within a person is their intention. As we saw above the good person had no intention of being discourteous to the family behind her. The bad person however, had full intention to be unctuous to the family. This was a decision made with intent and purpose, while the good person just simply failed to act.
Many people fail to recognize others' intentions, this is where the phrase "It's not what you say it's what you do" came from. People focus on the actions of others the most. Make sure your actions are intentional and premeditated to ensure that you are being as "good" as you can be.
Generally, if the intent of the person doesn't line up with the action, they may not be a good person. The intention will allow you to see what people want vs what they say they want.
Secondly, try and find a happy medium rather than trying to describe everything in the absoluteness of “good” and “bad”. It is okay to be a medium-type person. This is someone who aspires to be good when associated but may fall short sometimes. This is the exact opposite of the person who willfully practices malintent.
People who balance themselves in a medium place oftentimes are less stressed and find more joy in their lives. The constant pressure to be "good" can be overwhelming sometimes in our world of temptation and desire. It's okay to fall short. That is why we are human. So focus on the medium. Instead of evaluating yourself while in a low place and laughing while in a high place. Try to focus on being just okay.
Dolly Chugh, a Psychologist and Associate Professor at New York's Stern School of Business, explains that "Good-ish" refers to the idea that it's better to confront our mistakes than to lead a "perfect" life. This is because of our ability to adapt and learn from our mistakes. She believes that instead of spending our time trying to be "perfect", we should instead let ourselves fail and learn how to be better so we understand the value of growth,
Focusing on the medium allows you to focus better on specific areas within yourself. People can learn from their mistakes and life's challenges. This is growth. Growth is the improvement of. This can include your mentality, physical well-being, and emotional understanding. Growth is something we can never escape and here is why.
Carol Dweck, Ph.D., A psychology professor at Sandford University said that there are two categories of mindset: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Dweck wrote in her book, "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success," that a growth mindset "allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives." This is seen as perseverance, which humans are known for in challenging times.
Humans naturally grow or fall when faced with a challenge. This can be dependent on your upbringing and experiences as to which type of person you would be. Generally, though we see that people are more likely to grow and adapt when faced with challenges.
One of the primary ways of identifying that you're a good person is through your thoughts, actions, and intentions.
If your initial thought is to help someone when you see them fall down, for the pure sake of helping said person. This is a good action Your thought was to recognize the need for help, your intention was to help, and your action was picking this person up off the ground. The thought leads to your intention and your intention leads to your action.
Whereas your initial thought was that helping that person would make you look good. Even performing the helpful act, is still not a good act. Your thought was to help. Your intention was to be noticed, Therefor your action was helping the person with the intention of incentive. The motivation and intention were negative to start therefore all the actions became negative.
Before moving on to the next part here is a list of good practiced and concepts I urge you to read about!
Confronting your own biases
Forming meaningful relationships
Acting with good intentions