Character–an ethical or moral quality; an aggregate of traits and features that comprise the nature of a person.  Character is more than what we notice about a person from the outside–it is who they are even when no one is watching.  When was the last time you thought about good character?  Do you know anyone in your life who has good or impeccable character?  Have you thought about your own character?  I’ve been thinking about this quality a lot recently because of its impact on relationships.  Children look up to their parents as their role models.  Partners commit to one another in marriages and relationships.   Having good character not only matters in personal relationships, but in your relationships with friends, other relatives, co-workers, and more.

When you think of a person who has good character, what traits do you think of?  Truthfulness, honesty, discretion, tolerance, integrity, loyalty, dependability, honor, compassion, generosity, humility, wisdom, virtue, responsibility, security, sensitivity, gratefulness, forgiveness, patience, flexibility, boldness–can you think of more?  Who do you think of when you read those traits?  Do you think your relationships would be infinitely better if they were based on these traits?

Our character guides us in our responses to the circumstances in our lives.  It’s behind our thoughts, words, and actions.  Good character leads to true success.

““Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” ~Stephen Covey

I have learned through the years that when you want to work on a relationship, it is better to focus on yourself first.  So many people want to “fix” and change the other person.  Work on yourself first.  How am I contributing to this relationship? Do I embody good character?  Am I dependable, truthful, tolerant, patient, forgiving, generous, kind, compassionate, grateful, and flexible?  Do I honor my commitment to my relationship?  Does my child have a good role model in me?  Even if you’re not perfect, there’s still the opportunity to say. “I’m sorry.  I messed up.”

“Reputation is the shadow.  Character is the tree.”  ~Abraham Lincoln

This world needs more people with good character.  When people possess good character, they naturally feel better about themselves.  Consider this passage I recently read in a research article on positive psychology:

“…[G]ood feelings evolved as emotional rewards humans got for the kinds of activities that make decent civilization possible–hard work, cooperation, self sacrifice, child care, learning, teaching, seeking transcendent meaning in ordinary life. In other words, pleasure and satisfaction most often don’t come without previous expenditures of will power, courage, applied intelligence, and damn good attitude. Not normally found in psychology textbooks or therapeutic interventions, nor reducible to popular self-help bromides, these qualities used to be encapsulated by the term good character.” ~Mary Sykes Wylie

If everyone went about their days doing the “right” thing, even when no one was watching, the world would be a better place.  Good character begins in the home.  It is taught and modeled by parents to their children.  Even if you grew up in a home with a parent or parents who lacked good character, it does not mean you’re off the hook.  Today is a new day.  A new day to begin again and to shine.  Each day is an opportunity to live your best life–and to remain steadfast on the path of optimal living.

References

Wylie, M. S. (2003, Jan). Why is this man smiling? A self-described grouch is trying to turn happiness into a science.  Psychotherapy Networker, 27(1).

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