The person you are is formed by what you do when nobody is around.
It’s often said that good character is displayed when we do good things with nobody around. I couldn’t agree more with this saying, but I think we can go even further than this.
Usually, we say good character is shown by doing good things when nobody is around because it means you’re not doing it to increase your standing in someone else’s eyes. You’re being kind simply because you believe it is the right thing to do. The question I would ask is: what if you’re kindness or lack of kindness in these moments were to become a self-fulfilling prophecy? What if the choices you make when you are alone affect every relationship you have?
I think a monk would agree this is true. I remember years ago when I first became interested in the lives of monks. The idea of meditation caught my curiosity and their drive for compassion inspired me. Most of all, their goal seemed so simple, yet I had never heard anyone state it as plainly as I found it in my reading. Here in America, we talk about practicing to be great at sports or at the top of your career, monks essentially practice to be as composed and compassionate as they can be.
The idea is: the more you practice positive emotions and behaviors, like compassion and service, the better you get at them and the more often you experience the joy they bring. It makes sense that you would be able to practice the skills that make us better people, and yet throughout my childhood the idea never occurred to me.
So to add to the description I gave at the beginning of this article, I would say that doing good things when nobody is around shows good character and it helps create more good behaviors in the future.
When we practice being nice to people behind their backs, it is so much easier to be nice to their faces. This is even more true when they hold different ideals than us. Being nice when they aren’t around will allow us to better understand their strengths and faults. Instead of labeling them a bad person and calling it a day, we can understand the nuance within them.
When we create a compassionate mindset, we see through the flaws we see in other people to find the strengths that we can appreciate. We put ourselves in a better position to avoid emotional outbursts and replace those outbursts with a sense of understanding. We allow ourselves to practice compassion with those we disagree with to fully embrace our friends and family. Our gratitude for others when they are not around creates more to be grateful for when we do get to see them.
Being compassionate toward others when they’re not around goes far beyond a show of good faith. It’s practice for being kind when people are around. The way people act on their own creates the mindset and behaviors that they have when they approach others. Your positivity or negativity will always find their way into other situations.