What Are Character Traits


At the very heart of what makes an individual is their character, but what are character traits? It is, essentially, who you are and what you believe. We all have character of one form or another, and based on our genetics and life experiences, character varies from person to person. Further complicating things, our character (flaws in particular) are commonly well hidden, buried under years of a well groomed personality and masking behaviors. But deep down under all the layers of stuff we have learned is the real you. There is this collection of qualities, traits, values and beliefs that are the foundation of your thoughts and actions. That’s kinda big, I don’t know why we all don’t talk about this more.

What are character traits? Who can you trust?

These qualities that are the foundation of who we are, are our character traits. There are quite a lot of them, and I’ll track a List Of Character Traits for reference in another post.

What are Good Character Traits

Let’s start with some good character traits to get the ball rolling. Traits like honesty, loyalty, kindness, courage, caring, patience, generosity, humanity and humility. There’s plenty more where those came from, but that’s a good start.

These qualities exist within you and others. What do they mean in our lives and how important are they? I like having people in my life that I trust to tell me the truth and do what they say they will do. When you stop and genuinely consider how much other people impact our lives, the character of the people we trust is of paramount importance.

What do you admire about others? What are the traits you can see in others that you want to incorporate into your own life. Do you know? Have you really thought about this? Your life will be different if you are aware of and look for people of good character. Mindfulness on the subject of character, along with journaling on the subject, will help draw your attention to the value and importance of character in yourself and others.

Make some decisions about what matters most to you. Sure, it all does, but start with a handful of the basics like honesty, kindness, caring and loyalty. Don’t expect better than you are prepared to give, so you too should be honest, kind, caring and loyal. Aware of a handful of character priorities, start living them. Honesty is a character trait, telling the truth is the associated behavior. Telling the truth is easy, until it’s not. Character in action is telling the truth you would rather not have to. You know when it happens, it would be easier to play dumb or say you didn’t see it, but in those moments when the truth is hard is when true character is demonstrated.

Yes, I broke it. I’m sorry, I should have told you. Everyone thinks they’re honest, but most people lie to save themselves some inconvenience or embarrassment. Don’t be that guy, tell the truth. I would also say, don’t trust that person that will lie on those rare occasions when it suits their own self-interest. I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but people of good character can be hard to find. That said, being a man of good character makes you valuable to others.

What if you choose to be a man of character? Just, decide, you’re going to be one of the good guys. Decide what character traits you value and want to live by and then just do it. Tell the truth, do what you say you’re going to do, show up on time and be kind and respectful to everyone. You might not be as popular or make as much money, apparently poor character can be profitable, but I believe in being a better man, despite all its shortcomings.

What are negative character traits

Many bad character traits are arguably just low levels of good character traits you expect from people in your life. Like, not being very honest or being unkind or disrespectful. It is often subtle, but worth paying attention to. There is a difference between being honest, not being honest and being dishonest that some of us allow ourselves. I am very honest, when I speak, it is the truth. Oh sure, I’m not going to tell a girl those pants DO make her butt look big or that i hated her mom’s lasagna, but on anything of substance it is always the truth. Where I may not be as honest as I claim to be, is when I don’t speak. There is a lot I don’t say that would be more honest if I were to say it.

Hmmm, this is a finer point worth considering. When does someone deserve to know the truth, especially about how you feel about something? I have avoided a lot of conflict in my life by…well, avoiding conflict in my life and holding my tongue. When is another entitled to hear what you really think or how you really feel? In the law, concealing a truth that another is entitled to know, is as clear a deception as having told an affirmative lie. We’ll put a pin in this one for now, as I’m still working out where lines might get drawn.

Then there are simply bad character traits, like mean, cruel, evil, dangerous, obnoxious, malicious, selfish, abrasive, petty and unforgiving. Some people have lived hard lives, and I am a firm believer in childhood trauma and lifelong suffering. Learn to recognize bad character and avoid it.

Character is invisible and hard to detect

Behavior, personality and, of course, looks are front and center when meeting others. We draw all sorts of conclusion about people based on qualities that are well within an individual’s control. I have read that Jeffrey Dahmer was quite handsome and charming. Yikes! I no longer assume character in others. I have learned the hard way that bad character traits can be easily hidden by a pretty face and a charming personality. And for reasons unknown to me, I have always been greatly influenced by a pretty face and charming personality.

These days, I take my time with new people. Possible friends, romantic interests, you should go super slow my friends. When it comes to women, men seem super eager to get down to business, wanting to know how many dates is reasonable before…well you know. Are you kidding me? Especially for nice guys, as you are putty in the hands of a beautiful woman if she decides you belong in her life for a while. Do you know the pain and suffering a narcissist can cause? I do. Take your time boys, it will be time well spent. And if you’re a man of character, she’ll be trying to get you into bed. Do not invest time in people whose character you do not value.

Character of others

An awareness of the character of others will serve you in your life. Be careful with whom you choose to trust and rely upon. Charm, looks and behavior are poor guides to the quality of the people you choose to trust. I would be really cautious with attractive people. It sounds unfair, but really attractive people get by on less. They’re attractive and we like them more than people that look, you know, sketchy. I’m not sure where we learn that, but clever criminals learn to look and act the part.

We assume that others are honest and reliable but they are often not and you can’t tell by looking or even in depth conversation. We want to believe, so we do and often find we have trusted people that are undeserving. And then suffer our poor choices.

Have you been in a relationship or friendship with someone and discovered they were lying to you? When it happens, it can create an overwhelming sense of betrayal. Do you know how many people cheat on partners in what are understood to be committed relationships? It is heartbreaking, and it will probably happen to you if it hasn’t already.

Imagine choosing a life partner, having children, owning a home and merging personal and financial lives only to discover substantial flaws in their character too late. Half of marriages end in divorce, so the pain in discovering your mistake is incalculable.

Understanding the value of and knowing to recognize character is a vital skill in life. Choose to invest in people of high character and avoid people of poor character. Don’t count on being able to change the character of others. There is the story of the frog and the scorpion. They are at the rivers edge, both wanting to cross, and the scorpion asks for a ride on the frog’s back. ‘But you will sting me and I will die’ says the frog, the scorpion says ‘but that would not be in my best interest as I need your help to cross the river safely’. The frog sees the logic and agrees and in the middle of the river the scorpion stings the frog who says, ‘but now we both shall die’ and the scorpion responds, ‘I know, that’s just my nature’.

Don’t count on changing the nature (character) of people in your life. I would be cautious trying to save anyone from themselves. Yes, cynical. Wait until you have lived sixty years.

Self Assessing Your Own Character

Reflecting on your own character is time well spent for a man. Do you want to be an honest man? It’s worth thinking critically about. Who do you want to become as a man? Kind, decent, honest, patient?

You can self assess on each of these where you think you stand. Use the 1-10 scale on honesty and give yourself a score. In fact, character is a topic worth keeping track of in your journal. How about self-confidence or personal discipline? Choose who you want to be and be that guy.

Becoming a man of character is free, but the value to you, your life and the people in your life is priceless.

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