On Being A Good Person

  1. If you don’t like something about yourself, pinpoint the contexts in which the behavior manifests. Identify patterns of experience and environment.
  2. Establish personal policies for how to deal with such contexts. Don’t leave it up to yourself to make decisions in the present. Leverage the policy to enable you to be better — “Sorry, I have a policy on this”. Should your actions be called into question, direct the criticism at your policy, which is impersonal and can be changed, rather than at yourself.
  3. Try and build simple stories around what causes you to behave in a way you don’t like, why you behave one way and not the other, and why you don’t like it. We’re social creatures and storytelling is an important part of implementing change.
  4. Negotiate. With yourself, with others. Don’t let yourself forever indulge the fear of confrontation and accept that which is given to you without representing yourself adequately, because a lot of it is unjust (justice is something that’s implemented; a topic for another day) and you will build up resentment. Resentment leads to disregard, negativity, and nihilism, which leads to behaviors you don’t like.
  5. Regulate your vices. I think there’s a place for some indulgence, so as not to become a tightly wound, disagreeable, and altogether unlikable character from all the rigor and policy making. But it’s got to stay regulated — vices are something I allow myself, which means they’re disallowed by default.
  6. Practice (yes, practice, as in do it a lot) forgiveness. Practically speaking, failure to behave in a way that you like should be interpreted as a systemic issue, and an indication of work that needs to be done — not as a testament to your nature as a person.
  7. Share your policies and stories! A huge part of keeping yourself accountable is keeping others around you accountable. Knowing others had left their garbage lying around astronomically increased my own inclination to do so. Corruption is viral.

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