10 Traits Everyone Should Have

Below is a list of the 10 character traits I find to be the best of the best, and the ones I seek to emulate every day of my life. I’m curious to hear from others whether they agree, disagree, or would add even more traits. Of course, there are a good number that might fit well here, but these are *my* tops.

Honesty – the quality of being truthful
Listen, I know that everyone lies or has lied at various times in their life. Heck, it’s been shown that numerous animals lie or are capable of deception. But for the most part, honesty is preferable to falsehoods, and I believe many interpersonal relationships would benefit from honest conversation.

Self-Sufficient – capable of providing for one’s own needs
This doesn’t mean that you have to prove that you can survive alone in the middle of a 500 acre forest with nothing but a hatchet and book of matches…though kudos to you if that’s a skill of yours. No, I’d argue that being self-sufficient in Western society means having marketable skills that would get you a job *and* the capacity to live in such a way that you don’t have to rely on government funds or another’s income to survive. Now, if you are on hard times, disabled to the point where you can’t work, or are a housewife/househusband…okay. Not everyone can be self-sufficient, but I truly believe that if you can be, you should be.

Empathy – the ability to understand and sympathize with another’s experiences/emotions
One of the cornerstones of morality, and quite possibly civilization itself, is the fact that 99% of humans are capable of imagining themselves in another’s place. It allows us to have sympathy for someone else’s pain, gives at least a slight understanding of what help is required, and means we can attempt to present solutions for problems that don’t affect us as individuals. Now if only more people would cultivate their sense of empathy, homo sapiens as a whole would be far better off.

Accountability – a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions
This is a *huge* one. It may be tempting to tell little white lies, make excuses, or push blame onto anyone/anything else besides yourself when a mistake is made, but that’s hardly what a responsible adult would do. No, instead it is important to accept the fact that you messed up, apologize, and do whatever possible to fix the situation. By doing so, you admit your flaw and can use it as an opportunity for growth and betterment of your personality.

Dependable – able to be trusted to do or provide what is required in a situation
This trait is especially valuable when navigating the “real world”. Friends want to know you’ll be open to returning favors, employers want to know you will complete tasks within their deadlines, and relatives need to understand that you are available at least part of the time should an emergency come up. If you have a family, you should be a person that they can rely on to do what is necessary for the good of the relationship and household. If everybody was a dependable sort, I believe that society would be far more equal and fair, given that all would contribute.

Ambitious – having a desire to achieve a particular goal
Without the ability to imagine a more positive situation, or to plan for a better future, we would not have civilization as it stands now. To be able to invent, to invest time, money, and resources into a project that will help further ones cause…this is what the great men and women of history have done. Yet even for those of us who don’t make significant changes to society should strive to bring our dreams to fruition, whether that means taking a class on metallurgy or saving up to buy an RV and travel the country. An unambitious life is stagnant and poorly lived compared to one filled with ambition.

Respectful – understanding that someone is important and should be treated appropriately
I will probably have numerous readers tell me I’m foolish for believing so, but I think just about everyone is worthy of respect. Humans are social animals first and foremost, with very few true exceptions. Having a basic level of respect for your fellow man and woman is the grease that turns the cogs of daily interactions…without it, we would become very selfish and unpleasant indeed. Yes, a higher level of respect must be earned through word and deed, but a minimal amount of respect should be accorded to everyone.

Confident – having a belief that one can exceed at something or do it well
When you know the skills and abilities you exceed at, people can tell. Whether this means you are a good leader, an excellent parent, a stirring public speaker, or a talented mechanic, having confidence in yourself is a must. The issue with confidence is that it cannot be transfered…ergo, you might be a great pastry chef but horrible at picking up sexual partners, or a fantastic middle school teacher who falters when talking to your peers. The trick in this case is to take small steps to remind yourself of your innate value as a person, and build on this truth to gain further confidence.

Strong – having moral, intellectual, or physical power
Strength can come in many forms, though unfortunately it’s usually mentioned only in a muscular way. Having a body capable of lifting heavy weights or covering long distances quickly is something to relish, no doubt. But having a strong sense of morality is something to take pride in as well, much as an ample education or a passion for helping those who are less fortunate. Keeping oneself intellectually sharp and disease/drug free is yet another example of bodily strength that should be praised far more than it typically is. Even lending someone your shoulder in times of emotional stress is a wonderful strength to cultivate, and shares your inner light in a most glorious way.

Loyal – having complete and constant support for someone or something
When in any sort of relationship, your partner typically gives you the benefit of the doubt. They trust you to be loyal…not to have sex, make important decisions, tell company secrets, or hoard money behind their back. By being loyal to the person in question, you prove that you have a strong moral compass and are a valuable supporter to their interests and well-being.

As many of my esteemed readers have taken the time to point out, even traits like these should be used in moderation. One should not be so ambitious they lose sight of the loveliness of simple pleasures, so self sufficient that they shun the world, or remain loyal to an abusive person. As with anything in life, balance is key, and I thank my readers for reminding everyone of this!

Are there any more traits that are of particular interest to you, dear reader? If so, feel free to leave them in the comments, or post your own list and give a link to it.

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15 thoughts on “10 Traits Everyone Should Have

  1. I feel that this is tricky. Possession of a trait doesn’t imply that one is skilled enough to know when to use said trait at the appropriate time context with the right people. Some people are extremely loyal to those who may abuse them or treat them unfairly. Knowing when to be honest, and how honest to be in certain situations is very important as well. Just being honest isnt enough I feel at times.

  2. I think these are great but do agree with Mr. Mary that people can be too honest, too loyal etc. There can be too much of a good thing.
    Accountability is a big one for me. I’ve found its hard to find people who will readily admit their wrong and apologize. It’s actually a big red flag, not to mention is a huge turn off when dating.

  3. Considerate, kind, thoughtful, generous, pragmatic (aka sensible and reasonable), industrious, (I like dependable and loyal also).

  4. Good list. And to be my typical contentious self, I like to make the distinction between self-sufficient and self-reliant. The distinction is similar to that of independence (un-dependent) and inter-dependent. My 2 pedantic cents.

  5. It’s a good list, although I echo the thoughts of some commenters, that they ought to be in balance….too much of any one is as bad as not enough.
    I’m not terribly ambitious in the conventional sense. I don’t aspire to be the president of my company or anything. I like doing what I do, and don’t want to “move up”. It took me a long time and lots of emotional/mental struggles to come to peace with that fact.

  6. @Liz

    Another excellent set of characteristics, thank you Liz! I especially like that you included “pragmatic”…I’m sure that if this was a more common trait we wouldn’t have many of the issues that we see in society today.

  7. I finally have time to respond properly. Agree with all, especially your common-sense call for moderation at the end, with two exceptions:
    Respectful –
    In the sense of “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements,” it is imprudent to give such respect unless another has earned it by virtuous conduct. Many examples exist of politicians exploiting their positions for self-gain or deceiving electorates. I was actually taught in the military that respect is earned.
    However, in the sense of civility and “due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others,” I agree, as a general rule. However, this, too, is subject to abuse, as it is used by certain special interest groups as a means of insisting that their views must be treated as being at least as legitimate as any other points of view. Thus, respect cannot be permitted to be exploited as an excuse to suppress freedom of speech, expression, thought, etc.
    The best general example here that I can think of are feminists judges, who blatantly abuse their power to achieve outcomes consistent with feminist ideology. These horrible women are allowed to hide behind the court decorum and honourifics that they ill deserve. In this, we all deceive ourselves as to the noble nature of such women. (Not that there aren’t some male judges who are similarly contemptible yet are still referred to as “your Honour.”)
    Ambitious – This one is a double-edged sword. With your definition, I am tempted to recommend this might be better as “Industrious.” Ambition can be the result of unconsciously compensating for a sense of inferiority or lack of worth; a form of denial, if you will. Industry can achieve similar outcomes, but stresses the work ethic v. the desire or passion to achieve something great.
    Since I’ll be arguing in my sequel that western civilization, with the Anglo-American empire (lite) at its core, is presently undergoing the same long-term process of narcissistic decay as befell the Roman Empire, I assess the view of civilization’s generally steady forward march of progress to be illusory. It may actually be more of a life cycle.
    Big kudos to you, TS, for writing about virtuous character traits. This is a topic seen far too seldom, these days.

  8. No worries, Nav. I’m busy this weekend myself, so probably just going to have an open thread post on Saturday.

    Hope you’re well too.

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