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4 Character traits to cultivate
Life’s major trials build character but we need not wait for those to happen. We can kick-start our character-building by cultivating one positive trait at a time, in the minor troubles we face every day.
Let’s consider 4 character traits.
Honesty - Sometimes, when we find ourselves in itchy circumstances or dealing with dominant personalities, we fool ourselves into believing that honesty is the wrong route to take. After all, we have to protect ourselves, conceal our failings and project a particular image. We don’t see honesty as an attractive option, if a lie will get us more and take us further. Honesty, like charity begins at home, so we should begin cultivating it at this basic level. All through our lives, we will encounter circumstances that require us to take a stand and be honest and we will. In fact, we will do so, without hesitation, fear, shame, apology or regret.
Compassion -The natural human desire for recognition and admiration can rise up and overshadow the larger and more important issue – someone’s need. When we cultivate compassion, we don’t allow such innate desires to take centre-stage when someone is in dire straits. Instead, we set aside our own needs to focus on how we can help alleviate someone else’s suffering. We extend ourselves to deliver relief. Compassion is much more than a stirring in the heart that prompts us to dip into our pockets, our possessions or other resources to help someone in need. It includes the willingness to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort level to ensure that a need is met. Compassion asks us to use our personal non-financial resources – our time, energy, god-given talents, skills and expertise (to listen, give advice and encouragement, source information and supply materials). Compassion is not only about providing immediate needs. It calls us to equip people who are in need today, with information, instruction and supplies to help them improve their lives and move to a position, where they can help others.
Dependability - Our fast-paced lives put such a strain on our time, energy and resources that we learn to multitask out of necessity. Naturally, it is easy for our focus to shift and our goals to change. On any given day, our to-do items get entangled with unexpected distractions. We leave tasks undone; we abandon our commitments and disappoint people who are depending on us. If we begin with the smallest commitment and work our way up to larger and more complex responsibilities, we will cultivate a habit, a desire and a reputation for dependability.
Self-reliance - Everyone and everything is connected in some way and on some level (physically, via the Internet or otherwise). Yet, in a sense, unless we are self-reliant in some aspects of our personal lives, our relationships and our careers, we could find ourselves mired in frustration, waiting on others to do for us, what we should be doing for ourselves. Self-reliance engenders confidence and stimulates a spirit of adventure. It feeds and strengthens our ability to help people who may be dependent on us. Self-reliance ensures the quality and quantity of the information, advice, encouragement and actions we use to helpothers. We can’t ignore the thread of negativity that seems to be weaving its way throughout our personal lives, in our country and globally. Positive character traits set us apart. They enhance our relationships and reputations and may even open doors of possibilities for us as well. H. Jackson Brown said, “Good character is not given to us. We have to build it, piece to piece -- by thought, choice, courage, and determination.”
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