How To Be a Decent Human Being

It is not unusual to witness tears or despair during therapy. The ending of a relationship, relentless work demands, financial insecurity, unexpected life transitions—people express sadness for what is happening in their life in nearly every session. But lately, their sadness has little to do with themselves or their own tribulations. Their tears are dedicated to those around them. They are disheartened by the state of the world and demoralized by the actions of others. At a loss for how to exist safely and peacefully in such disarray, clients are seeking solace now more than ever. 

While education systems remain hyper-focused on meeting standardized test requirements, our knowledge of how to be a decent human being gets less attention. We are not given degrees or accolades based on our kindness or morality. There is no paycheck for holding a door for a stranger or altruism. So to survive in a harsh society where most are fighting for power and resources, here are a few key reminders of how to behave:

Take Less, Give More

Though the universe may never be perfectly balanced with the Givers and Takers, one thing will always remain steady: NO ONE LIKES BEING AROUND SELFISH PEOPLE. They drain you—emotionally, physically, financially. Self-centered behavior consumes more than it contributes, leaving those around it in a state of scarcity. Take a mental spreadsheet of what you put out into the world and what you take in return. It’s not the stock market. If your ROI is more than 50%, you may need to re-examine. 

Be Willing To Say Sorry

If you are human, mistakes will be made. You are expected to mess up. But no matter how big or small the error may be, it showcases significant courage and strength to own them and genuinely apologize for the pain they may have created. If you are struggling to offer the words you know someone deserves to hear, imagine that last time you felt hurt and the apology you never received. What would it have done for your pain if you had heard the words “I’m Sorry?”

Offer Respect to Everyone

….Not just those that think like you, act like you, look like you. It’s easy to get along with people when they agree with everything about you. But how do you co-exist with those that differ? Similarity Bias, a psychological phenomenon that has traces throughout racism and social trends, proposes that we have an automatic attraction to individuals that are similar to ourselves. We fear what we do not understand, signaling our defenses when we encounter something or someone that is different. Encourage your curious mind to seek understanding versus criticism.

Written by: Aubrey Koel, LPC