By Zoë Miller & Insider
With popular shows like “The Good Place” and “Russian Doll,” the question of morality is having a moment in pop culture. As these series illustrate, being “good” is rarely black and white, which can make it complicated to gauge your own moral compass.
Here are some signs you’re a better person than you think.
You act with good intentions and compassion
According to psychologist and author Rick Hanson, PhD, one of the primary ways of identifying that you’re a good person is through your thoughts, words, and actions. And generally having inclinations toward goodness means you’re probably a better person than you think.
“These include positive intentions, putting the brakes on anger, restraining addictive impulses, extending compassion and helpfulness to others, grit and determination, lovingness, courage, generosity, patience, and a willingness to see and even name the truth whatever it is,” Hanson wrote on Psychology Today in 2013.
You believe you can learn from life’s challenges and improve
Carol Dweck, PhD, a psychology professor at Stanford University and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” said that there are two categories of mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The latter allows people to embrace challenges and overcome setbacks when they are faced with personal and professional obstacles.
“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset,” Dweck wrote for the Harvard Business Review.
And having this mindset can be beneficial even in the toughest of situations. Dweck wrote in her book that a growth mindset “allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
You confront your own biases and own up to your mistakes
In her book “The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias,” Dolly Chugh, a psychologist and associate professor of management and organizations at New York University’s Stern School of Business, explained the term “good-ish.” In the context of bias, this phrase refers to the idea that it’s better to confront our mistakes (such as mispronouncing someone’s name) than to be “perfect.”
Living an error-free life is tough – that’s why some believe that the way you react and respond to your own mistakes and biases is a more suitable way to gauge who you are as a person.
“A good-ish person is someone who’s not free of bias but who owns the bias when it happens,” Chugh told Behavioral Scientist in 2018. “I actually think being a good-ish person is a higher standard than being a good person.”
You support others but you also make time to take care of yourself
That being said, also taking time to take care of yourself doesn’t mean you’re any less of a good person.
“People think that being a good person you have to serve other people at the expense of your own needs, but if you do that you’ll end up feeling left out and resentful,” life coach Karen Meager of Monkey Puzzle Training said in an interview with The Telegraph. “You have to put yourself in the center of your life and then you’ll enjoy doing things for other people.”
You mostly meet your own definition of what a ‘good person’ is
Morality isn’t black and white and acknowledging that fact makes a world of difference in how we perceive ourselves. In an interview with Psychology Today, Dr. Paul DePompo, a psychologist and author based in southern California, explained that viewing all of your actions as “good” or “bad” can be a toxic mindset that might alter your self-image.
“Thinking you are one or the other triggers problems when you eventually do a ‘bad’ thing – which we are all capable of – and you may get an inflated self-image when you are doing many ‘good’ things,” DePompo said.
Instead, DePompo said he suggests you first define what you think a good person is in three to five words (ie: “generous” or “thoughtful”). Then, you should figure if you feel you identify with being any of the words you’ve chosen. He said if you see yourself as being more than half of the words you chose, chances are “you are a relatively good, yet imperfect person.”
When it comes to relationships in your life, you communicate effectively and take responsibility for your actions
Being able to create and sustain healthy relationships could be a sign you’re a better person than you think. Doing so typically entails communicating effectively, treating others with respect, and taking responsibility for your actions.
“You can be assertive without being aggressive, supportive without rescuing other people, and you can be vulnerable without expecting people to save you,” Karen Meager, a life coach, told The Telegraph. “It’s about being responsible for yourself and being able to be in an adult relationship with other people.”