Are you a good person? In my experience, most people would say yes if asked. How do we know someone is a good person? I don't even know how to answer that myself. Am I good if I give money to charities. If so, how much should I give? How many times per week (day?) should I call my mom to be a good son? How many hours of uninterrupted house renovation shows should I spend watching with my spouse to be a good husband? Does pretending to have fun buying home décor stuff count? What about smiling and being nice to people that I know hates my guts, does that get me some points? But I digressed (Yes, I lost myself in the rant). Perception is the key here; yours, mine, and everybody's. Perception drives your life and is so powerful that it will influence how you respond to your environment because it becomes our reality. That's why psychotic symptoms are considered a critical issue. Because the person who is suffering psychosis has a distorted version of reality and will react to it accordingly.
Say that you want to find out, whether or not, you are a good person. I'm not sure one's self-evaluation can be a strong argument, so you go and do an investigation. You reach out to people and ask them if they think you are a good person. I'm pretty sure you can get a decent consensus if you go out and run a survey with people you have previously interacted (pseudo-science is fun!). Opinions will depend upon the type of experiences the people you asked have had with you. For example, if you were nice, if you smiled to them and nodded accepting their input during the exchange or agreed on multiple subjects. On the other hand, maybe you look like the bully who beat them up in school which, will definitely, play into their take on you being a "good person". Visceral reactions are usually too strong to overcome. Again, too many factors to weight in. Therefore, I do not feel I have the right definition or tools to objectively determine what does it take to be a good person or being close to know how does one really looks like. Even if you run it by a religious lens, you will find that a group of people that share the same beliefs won't necessarily agree on every single aspect that defines being "good."
Why do we even care, though? Why do we have so much invested in this? Well, I believe it is because that Jiminy Cricket that haunt us when we are about to make a questionable moral decision really knows how to pull the strings. It seems to me that, in many ways, being a "good person" is a highly regarded label. It is like you own a badge. Other people may go all the way and use it as an arrogant status, a shield of sorts. This makes me wonder if the pursuit of being good is at the same level of wanting to get breast augmentation or buying an expensive car. We crave the acceptance of our peers be it by the way we look, by our power of acquisition or by being perceived as having a high sense of morals. In short, the motivation of being good people is nothing else but desiring to be accepted; just like so many other things we do.
Is it worth it, though? The quest of being good just so we can get some sort of approval? No, I’m not calling for an excuse to indulge in apathy and antisocial behaviors. I'm just stating that what precedes our "good" deeds, what inspires our behaviors, go long ways. It might not change the outcome of the behavior outside, in the environment, but it does play a very strong hand in how we see and feel about ourselves. Following the comparisons above, I ask -because asking questions is my go to writing tool today-, is it worth getting under the knife to look more attractive? Is it worth the money invested in an expensive car just so people know I have wealth? Is it worth the amount of emotional investment we have to offer to adjust ourselves and be labeled good people? Living up to others expectation is taxing. It is emotionally draining. This may eventually lead to depression and anxiety because we could end up with no real reinforcements to benefit from. No rewards mean no happy thoughts.
All and all, one never really "makes it" because nobody honestly knows what being "good" entails. It is all relative and withheld by perception. We end up giving into hopelessness because someone will always shoot us down as we did not live up to their definition of being good. I believe we should dedicate our whole lives to do whatever makes us happy. Life is too short to try to satisfy others. We like to brag a lot about freedom and the pursuit of happiness, but some will tell you that true freedom will bring you true happiness. You become completely free when you release yourself from others' expectations. You start loving who you are, what you do and what you bring to the world. It is human nature to use other people's input as a mirror and in all fairness, that is needed for us to grow. The problem is when we allow that social component to dictate how we feel about ourselves and how much power we give them to decide how adequate we feel. Let's just do whatever makes us happy and if we feel altruistic, we indulge and help others. We own who we are, flawed and broken. It is ok not to be liked by some. We do not like everybody and that is ok too. The awesome thing about owning your lack of perfection and admitting that you are not a good person 24/7 is that you start feeling lighter. You're taking a huge weight off your back because you do not have to meet someone else's expectations and that will bring more smiles to your days.
Dr. Cappa's out.