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What makes a good person

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author.

For the homecoming kickoff, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County had the privilege to host a conversation with Trevor Noah. During the show, Trevor was asked a variety of questions pertaining to his stance on certain topics. Though the entire show was memorable with laughs and serious discussions, one topic stuck out to me the most. The interviewer asked a question that I believe many of us think about; what can we do to better ourselves as people? Though the question seems deep and complex, Trevor’s answer was quick. He stated that what we do for others helps us become better people.

Personally, I feel that I agree with Noah’s perspective on what makes a better person. It got me thinking about how many people define a role model as someone who goes above and beyond for others. How could we build ourselves up to this? First, ask yourself, when was the last time you went out of your way to help someone out? This could be something as small as holding the door for someone to volunteering with an organization. Any gesture no matter how small or big can contribute to being a good person. Putting others’ interests before your own shows that you’re not selfish and that you care about others’ needs. This is the first step to bettering yourself as a person.

Another question we should ask ourselves is how we feel when we help others. Do we feel a sense of accomplishment or do we feel as if we’re just completing another daily task in life? I believe that this is very important to focus on. If we enjoy helping others then we will most likely find ourselves doing more tasks that benefit those around us. Otherwise, we’re doing things for our own benefit and that may not always have someone else’s interest in mind. Despite this, no one wants to become selfless either. If we are coming to a point where we are putting others before our own needs then there’s a problem. Instead, we should be able to balance our focus on ourselves and those around us by finding a good middle ground between selfishness and selflessness.

When working towards becoming a better person, it is important to find a balance between selfishness and selflessness: empathy. While it is nice that we may be doing things for those around us, do we really know why we’re doing it? The ability to mentally put ourselves in another’s shoes and understand what they may be struggling with can strengthen our ability to help them. I have found myself in various situations where I was able to communicate with people more effectively by asking them what their thought process is. Asking questions is the biggest step towards understanding what someone is going through because it allows them to respond freely and it shows you hold interest. So, rather than telling your friends that everything is going to work out, ask them why they think it won’t. Understand why that person may see things the way they do then work together to change that.

Truly I do believe that everyone can be a good person if they choose to be. Everyone is capable of helping others if they push themselves to. Some of us may even be able to take that a step further by expressing interest in what we’re doing for others. Ultimately, the goal of becoming the best person we can be is to achieve empathy and show others that we understand. Once achieve this, we can build relationships and come together. Being a good person isn’t about raising money or finding a cure to the illness. It’s about understanding and giving; something that each of us can strive to do.