Developing a good character is all about addition, not a reduction. What I mean with this statement is, when it comes to growing, our focus is usually on the phases of our lives that are wrong. We try to remove or cut off these harmful or destructive qualities. We try to increase by reduction. That is not how you develop good character.
It is the method of addition in your life that produces the character. In so doing, you swiftly take care of the other harmful aspects.
We believe in qualities like patience, virtue, love, love, faith, kindness, etc. It is the method of adding them to our lives that we lead an honourable and fruitful life.
But how do you add these qualities and emotions? First, let’s look at the definition of the word ‘character’.
Character is the innermost doing of righteousness:
- When doing stuff that you ought to do is spontaneous and a part of you, that is a likable character.
- When you reach on time out of habit, that is a good character.
- When you’re honest by reflex, that is a great character.
- When you can push yourself to be patient instinctively, that is a good character.
- When something bad or wrong is done habitually, we call those bad habits. Doing things right or sound out of practice is called good character.
It is not about taking away the adverse. It is about blending those things to your life that becomes a habit. It is not about trying not to be late; it is about staying on time. It is not about discovering ways not to lie; it is about the truth. It is not about grappling with your impatience; it is about staying patient.
How do you get something into a sound habit? How do you build great character?
You repeat it until it becomes part and parcel with yourself. You patiently focus on what you want to add and then follow it until it becomes a habit. Let me give you some illustrations:
A young, ambitious teenager in college that I knew had difficulty waking up when the alarm clock went off. He kept tapping the snooze button and always ended up racing around so he wouldn’t be late to class. He heard how another guy worked the same issue, so he tried it too. When he had some free time in hand, he set his alarm to go off in five minutes. He lay down and tried to sleep. When the alarm went off, he bounced straight up out of bed. He reset the alarm for an extra five minutes and did it again. He must have done that around 20 times. The next morning, when the alarm went off, he stood right up out of bed. He had trained his body to react intuitively to the alarm. Soon he had no difficulties waking up in the morning.
While training a few entrepreneurs in a coaching institute, I overcame my flaws and decided to do something about them. I chose to greet everyone I saw before they could greet me. This forced me to be friendly and outgoing which wasn’t too easy for an introvert like myself. Some people were so friendly that I had to yell a welcome down the hallway where a dozen people could hear before the other guy could greet me. I did this for weeks and found myself being kind to people and more friendly without having to particularly focus on it. I added friendliness and extroversion to my character.
This is how you do it. When you attempt to add a certain trait, you have to concentrate on it and make it a purpose of addition to your character. You then practice it until it becomes accustomed. We do this with our muscles. We practice swinging a racket. We practice a risky jump shot in basketball. We follow dribbling a soccer ball all so that our forces will react intuitively without thought or conscious direction. Why should a good character be any different?