The Keys to Being a Better Person Every Day

You shouldn't wait to experience difficult situations in order to try to become a better person. Every day, you have the opportunity to grow as a person and become a better version of yourself.
The Keys to Being a Better Person Every Day
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Sigmund Freud once said that science hasn’t yet created a medicine as powerful as kind words. You’ve surely wondered if there are keys to being a better person. The answer to this question is complex. However, striving towards this goal will have a transformative effect both for those around you and for yourself.

Moreover, philosophy is the field that’s dealt with the definition of this existential competence which, more than a purpose, is an aspiration. Most people are interested in becoming a better person and working towards that on a regular basis. After all, every single life experience, positive or negative, should help you develop into a better human.

Sometimes, you succeed, while other times take you back to the starting line. However, as Søren Kierkegaard pointed out, the key isn’t to give up. The secret here is to continue promoting positive thoughts despite existential contradictions. Wanting a better future starts with yourself.

The keys to being a better person every day

If you want to learn the keys to being a better person every day, keep reading. Three disciplines have focused on this: anthropology, philosophy, and psychology. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t only related to positive psychology. In reality, multiple disciplines are interested in the subject of becoming a better person.

On the other hand, there’s a detail that’s important to keep in mind. This goal must be a daily aspiration. In all honesty, you can’t complete this task entirely. It’s more than likely that you’ll always find yourself fallible, and you’re right. There won’t be a day when you don’t realize that there’s something about yourself you should work on. In fact, being aware of this is already an achievement in itself.

A man thinking.

The keys to being a better person, according to philosophy

Aristotle pointed out that everyone is capable of being good and virtuous. However, you must exercise kindness in order for it to become a habit. Here are some keys to achieving this:

  • Be prudent. Prudence is related to the ability to be reflective. This means thinking things through before making a decision and treating others with the respect and appreciation they deserve.
  • Temperance (in other words, emotional control). It’s imperative that you learn to master internal realities such as anger, rage, ego, or the need for power in order to become a noble being.
  • Justice. Being fair in everything you do, being respectful, and differentiating between right and wrong is essential to being a better person.
  • Strength. Every human being must have the courage to defend their beliefs.

What anthropology says about this subject

Oliver Scott Curry is a University of Oxford anthropologist and a fellow at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology. He conducted a study that the Current Anthropology journal published. In it, he addressed the questions that determine how to be a better person. Dr. Curry defined these dimensions as moral rules that have been studied in 60 countries. Let’s see what they are.

  • Look after the people you care about. Adopting behaviors that benefit them and that guarantee their happiness is key.
  • Help your community.
  • Learn to appreciate favors and return them.
  • Be brave and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
  • Respect people no matter who they are.
  • Share your resources.
  • Don’t be envious of others. Focus on yourself.

The keys to being a better person, according to psychology

Figures like Abraham Maslow and Martin Seligman approached this topic in an interesting, practical, and useful way. Being a better person means making a journey through areas such as emotional intelligence and gratitude. In order to give your best in every circumstance, you must aspire to achieve authentic self-realization.

A woman thinking about how she could apply the keys to being a better person every day.

Dimensions you must work on in order to meet this goal:

  • Self-knowledge. Knowing yourself is the existential threshold and your main purpose at all times. Getting in touch with your authentic self will definitely guide you on your journey.
  • Practice acceptance. Something that will surely save you from suffering is learning to accept people for who they are. In the end, you simply can’t change certain realities, you can only accept them.
  • Control your emotions. No one is to blame for what happens to you. After all, you’re responsible for yourself and you must act appropriately. This means you must learn to control your emotions. You must also be able to respond to your worries in an intelligent way.
  • Forgive, thank, and acknowledge. Learning to forgive others (and yourself) is key. Also, learn to be grateful.
  • Be empathetic. Few dimensions improve coexistence like the social glue of empathy.
  • Be compassionate and self-compassionate. Compassion is an important dimension you must remember. Thanks to it, you’re able to respect others and develop proactive behaviors that can improve the lives of those around you. Likewise, nothing is as important to well-being as a compassionate dialogue with yourself.

In short, the approach you choose to apply doesn’t really matter. Each discipline supports common dimensions you must practice. Remember that this is more complex than you may think. After all, there’s room for improvement every day.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Oliver Scott CurryDaniel Austin Mullins, and Harvey Whitehouse (2019) It Good to Cooperate?: Testing the Theory of Morality-as-Cooperation in 60 Societies. Current Anthropology 2019 60:147-69
  • Riggio, R.E., Zhu, W., Reina, C., & Maroosis, J. (2010). Virtue-based measurement of ethical leadership: The Leadership Virtues Questionnaire. Consulting Psychology Journal, 62(4), 235-250.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.