26 ways to be a more decent person

A kind of list you won’t see on your front page

What constitutes a good person is a subject that was debated by everyone, everywhere: from the Ancient philosophers spitting out grape seeds from a bed filled with concubines to that neighbor that decided to start drilling the walls while everyone is in smartworking.

Probably this is why we so often opt out to measure our worth in money, followers, possessions — these things, in contrast with goodness, virtue, or decency, are not debatable.

Each aspect of human virtue can be scrutinized, instead. Selflessness is awarded in principle, but in fact, it turns you into a doormat others can take advantage of. Niceness, politeness, and likeability are glossy but can hide a manipulative psychopath. Sacrifice may be inspiring in literature but is suffocating when performed by someone in your close circle.

I’m not going to try to find a solution to any of these eternal problems. What I’m going to do, instead, is to list the (carefully researched online) things that decent people might be doing on the daily, the ones that do not bridge into drama or toxicity, but are simply kind.

Because kindness is something that improves your mental health — doing it, receiving it, or even observing it.

Give it a try.

So, this is a rough list of the kind things that decent people do:

  1. They keep the trash with them until they find a dustbin.
  2. In a group of people, they make sure no one is left behind. They will wait for you if you stop to tie your shoes or return for the wallet you forgot.
  3. They say “you were going to say something, right?” when you were interrupted.
  4. They use turn signals even if it looks like there’s no one around.
  5. They are nice to waiters, customer support, and drivers.
  6. They say good things about people behind their backs.
  7. They ask if a stranger needs help if they look lost, sad, or confused.
  8. They remember what they owe you even if you forgot.
  9. They go along with your joke even if it’s not superb.
  10. They make an attempt to return the valuable stuff they found.
  11. They try to include the odd ones in a conversation.
  12. They return cart corrals to their place.
  13. They ask you to text them when you get home safe and ask if you’re okay when you forgot to send that message.
  14. They say please, thank you, excuse me, and you’re welcome, and they mean it.
  15. They offer you the last bite.
  16. They hold a door open for strangers.
  17. They can take no for an answer.
  18. They admit their mistakes without getting angry or defensive.
  19. They apologize sincerely.
  20. They admit they don’t know everything.
  21. They treat animals, starfishes, and spiders with respect.
  22. They can disagree with what you say and still see you as a human being.
  23. They mean it when they ask how you’re doing.
  24. They can laugh at themselves.
  25. They read this kind of lists while taking mental notes to improve.
  26. They prefer using glue for their seasonal decorations if they live in an apartment.

Stories from another hemisphere, written under a stripper pen name and in a second language. Because God forbid we make things easier for us.