The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good. ~ Ann Landers
Character is a blend of acquired habits and original patterns of behaviour originating from a core of identity or ‘seed’ that contains the blueprint of our life. It is the program that initiates the spontaneous unfolding of your life – whether that unfolding is a harmonious spiral of growth or an ungracious struggle.
Your happiness – and that of others around you – depends on whether you cultivate or spoil your character and relate to your seed with tact, gratefulness and care. The seed is yours; it holds a considerable potential for goodness, accomplishments and self-realization; and you are the gardener. The potential is with you whether you know it or not; it is good whether you like it or not; it is whole and powerful however much you have been told you are inadequate and, whether you consciously want it or not, it intends to grow.
- Character ‘grows’ when you use your intelligence, your heart and conscience to explore reality, seek the purpose of your life, clarify what is personally important for you; when you understand the tendencies and aspirations of your individual nature and formulate the principles of behaviour that will positively empower it.
- Character solidifies when you commit to live your life on the basis of what you know is true, good and right. I remember one friend telling me: “If something is said to be true but generates pain or sorrow, to me that thing is not true”. Period. I really loved that idea. Something that doesn’t directly participate to the rise of intelligence, love, peace, joy and freedom is not true however intellectually correct or justifiable it is.
History has taught us how the truest truths turned into lethal lies when they were used to dominate, humiliate or manipulate. Attitude counts. Remember times when you were ordered to behave by someone who was obviously not behaving themselves. Did you find their behaviour was ‘true’ at that time? They may have forced you into subservience, but you didn’t like it and you probably withdrew some of the trust you had invested in them. There is no lasting enterprise or community without trust.
- Character becomes good when you realize that you need to meet the needs of others in exactly the same manner as you attempt to fulfill yours. This is a major challenge for people who have been brought up in the mould of individualism, competitiveness and ‘me first’ but as a matter of fact, it is unreasonable to expect good relationships if you have established your personal needs at the centre of your world. Society has come to define happiness as the ability to get what we want from others, but can we dream of being happy if others experience a loss in our company?
If peace, harmony and happiness are of some importance to us, it doesn’t ultimately matter what we do or how much we earn. What is important is that we are sensitive, considerate and obliging and that, as a matter of principle, no one is hurt by our words or go away from us without having received something – an acknowledgment of their presence, a smile or a benevolent feeling.
When people feel good about you, it dramatically increases your chances to be happy both in terms of the positive vibes you receive but also of the co-operation they are prepared to offer. This doesn’t mean in any way that you have to compromise or be subservient or cunning. No. But what it does mean is that alongside decisiveness, focus and determination, you also need to have cultivated humility, generosity, sweetness, politeness, patience and love. Authentic, fulfilling and sustainable effectiveness is the product of such an inner balance.
- Character develops unshakable roots when you align your thinking, your vision and goals with your values, conscience and behaviour – when you become consistent. People who are consistent do what they say; say what they think; think what they understand; understand what they know; know what they feel – and they usually feel good.
They contribute to the growth of intelligence, harmony, peace and freedom and are, in the true sense of the term, ‘effective’. Because they can rely on themselves, others feel they can rely on them. Because they have come to accept and know themselves at a deep level, they have gained personal power.