Your character is made up of many different qualities. They are called character traits. Character traits can be either positive or negative based upon your values, what you have been taught, your choices and your experiences. The key to having moral character is to develop positive character traits. When you demonstrate these traits on a consistent basis, you will be known as a person of integrity. People who have moral character show by their actions and attitude that they care about themselves and others.
Get familiar with the description of moral character traits and strive to develop them within your heart and mind.
1. Educated – Getting all the facts and making sure they are correct before making a decision.
For example, your friends offer you some glue to sniff. You had already been researching it and know how damaging that can be to your brain. You tell them “no” and warn them of the dangers as well.
2. Respectful – To value others as important as yourself and to allow that to show through your actions and attitudes.
For example, your principal directs you to go to class, even though you had a permission slip to go to the nurse’s station. You try to explain but he says, “No back-talk.” You say respectfully, “Yes, sir,” and follow his directions anyway.
3. Patient – Demonstrating self-control and remaining calm through setbacks.
Being patient means not complaining, especially when you have the most to complain about. For example, your father promised to take you camping, but work kept interfering with the trip; you handled it without getting upset.
4. Honest/Trustworthy – Being fair, sincere and straightforward.
For example, you were playing in the house and mistakenly broke your mother’s new vase. No one saw you break it, but you told her the truth anyway.
5. Humble – Not being proud or arrogant.
A humble person will not argue, dispute nor disobey set rules. For example, the bathroom rule is “Clean up after yourself when you use the bathroom.” You don’t like to clean the bathroom, but you obey.
6. Thankful – To be conscious of the benefits that you have received.
Thankful people find joy in what they have instead of worrying or being upset about what they don’t have. For example, George really wanted a brand name pair of shoes, however his mother could not afford it. She did however, buy him the best shoes that she could afford. George told his mother thank you. Even though he did not get the pair he wanted, he appreciated the shoes he got.
7. Forgiving – To refrain from holding anger or resentment towards someone who has wronged you.
For example, your classmate laughed at you when you tripped. Rather than get upset with her or try to get even, you forgive her and laugh with her.
8. Steadfast/Persistent – You are determined not to give up or change what you have set out to accomplish.
For example, Martha was determined to stop assisting Alicia in stealing school supplies at the mall. Martha had already explained to Alicia that stealing was wrong; so when Alicia came to pick Martha up, she said “no” and encouraged Alicia not to go either.
9. Self-Control – Not yielding to impulsive thoughts and actions.
For example, you saw your sister’s letter on her dresser and really wanted to read it. But because you chose to respect her privacy, you decided not to touch it.
In like manner, when people around you exhibit these same positive character traits and treat you accordingly, you feel appreciated and respected. In essence, this is The Peaceful Solution. By simply interacting and communicating using these positive character traits, we can avoid hurting and devaluing each other. How many of these character traits do you recognize in yourself? How many do you recognize in your family members and friends? When you possess these traits you can feel positive about yourself and your ability to interact with others in a meaningful and caring way.
If you find that you are lacking any of these positive character traits, then work hard to develop them. You can develop a character trait by first valuing it as important. Begin by evaluating why that character trait is important to you as an individual and how it can benefit yourself and others. Let’s say you need to develop the character trait of being thankful. The first step is to consider why you should be thankful. Being thankful means you can appreciate what you have. People who are not thankful often feel dissatisfied with what they have and become envious of others.
Next, list all the things you have to be thankful for. Don’t forget to include things such as food, clothing, a place to live, your health and so on. Often these things are taken for granted, and we forget to be thankful for them. Then make another list of how being thankful can affect the people you interact with everyday. A thankful person is a bright and optimistic person. He or she encourages and motivates others to be thankful.
You can use these same steps to develop any character trait that you are lacking. Developing positive character traits takes commitment, determination and dedication. Changing yourself from the inside out is not always easy, but is well worth the effort.