How To Be A Decent Person

Updated on March 15, 2019
Alyssa Nichol profile image

Alyssa is a wife, mom, and coffee enthusiast who loves sharing her favorite lifestyle tips with the world.

The past few years have been wild and chaotic. At times, it feels like common decency has gone out the window, replaced with participation trophies, laziness, and a society that thinks that the world owes them something. We are more connected now than ever before. The age of the internet and social media give us access to information and allow us to meet new people all around the globe. It is both incredible and overwhelming at the same time. There are pros and cons to everything, but if we can remember a few simple etiquette rules and apply them to our lives, we can all be better, more decent human beings.

Politics and Religion

Have you ever been told, "never discuss politics and religion in public?" This is something I was taught from a young age. You just didn't bring it up. Times have certainly changed and there's nothing wrong with having a conversation that is both intelligent and thought-provoking. The problem lies in the fact that these are two topics that are emotionally charged, and we now live in a world that revolves around technology. We are more connected than ever before. We also realize that staying quiet about important matters guarantees that nothing will change. How do we navigate this precarious situation? When you take a step back and think about it, it's pretty simple.

Steer clear of online political debates. You aren't going to change someone's mind or position by engaging them on social media. Many people want to change the world, and the best way to enact change is by starting small. What can you do in your own community to improve your corner of the world? Volunteer at a local homeless shelter. Donate gently used toys and clothes to Goodwill or the Salvation army. Get involved with local events. Go to your township or city council meetings. Write letters to your representatives and senators. Make your voice heard in a productive way, not a destructive one. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Manners maketh man.

— Kingsmen

Remember Your Manners

Most of us are taught the big three at a young age: please, thank you, excuse me. Somewhere along the way, people have forgotten the power of these magical words. It takes little effort to be more thoughtful in your daily interactions. When you are getting your coffee in the morning, remember to say thank you to the barista. When you are grabbing breakfast at your favorite diner or fast-food restaurant, say thank you when you get your order. At the check-out in the grocery store, thank the cashier before you leave. Hold the door for the person behind you. If you bump into someone or accidentally cut in front of someone, say excuse me. It's the littlest things, the simple things, that matter most.

In addition, if you're sick, stay home. Rest. Get better. Don't infect everyone else because you want to tough it out. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Close your mouth when you are chewing. You get the picture. Remember your manners and always be polite. There's never an excuse to be rude. Good manners never go out of style.

Minding Manners: Why Etiquette is Important With Tamiko Zablith - The Distilled Man

Put Your Phone Down

Remember when your math teacher said you'd never have a calculator everywhere you went? Boy did they miscalculate that one! Not only do we have calculators, but we also have every reference book and atlas we'll ever need in the palm of our hand. Seriously, smartphones are extremely convenient. Gone are the days where you'd need to painstakingly search through an encyclopedia or dictionary to find meanings or know how to properly fold a road map. You don't even need to remember things anymore, just Google it! Don't you dare call me. We aren't cavemen. Send me a text like a normal person.

Life has changed drastically in ten years. Smartphones do so much for us, but they can also be a dangerous distraction. After numerous deaths, it's hard to believe that we still need to remind people to not be on their phones while they're driving. Just stop. Don't text and drive. Don't be on social media and drive. To be honest, you shouldn't even have your phone to your ear while you're driving. No text or social media update is worth your life or someone else's. It just isn't. Nowadays, most cars are equipped with bluetooth technology. If you must talk on your phone while driving, turn your bluetooth on so you can chat hands-free. If you have an older car, consider buying an actual bluetooth device that sits in your ear so you can drive and operate your car with both hands.

While we are on the subject of driving, don't apply or touch-up your make-up, or do your hair while you are driving your car. That is just as bad as being on your phone. Do your make-up and hair before you leave your house or at the very least, wait until you get to your destination and do it in the parking lot. Get to where you need to go safely. Remember this: no one looks cute in the aftermath of a car wreck.

Tuck your phone away at meal times. Be present and make memories with your friends and family.
Tuck your phone away at meal times. Be present and make memories with your friends and family.

Thou Shall Not Steal

Obviously, you shouldn't steal. When we think of this phrase, thoughts of material possessions usually come to mind. However, it goes deeper than that in today's world. Intellectual property that you find online is not a free-for-all. It's not okay to copy and paste someone's work and post it on your own web page. It's definitely not cool to steal someone's personal photos either. For most articles on the web, there are handy buttons to click where you can easily share the content on social media. This ensures that a link to the original is provided and people can see who actually spent time on the content. If you really want to share it on your personal site, reach out to the person to get permission. It's not hard and only takes a few minutes. At the very least, give credit where credit is due. It's against the law to steal both in the physical world and on the internet. You get a lot further by following the rules than you do by breaking them.

Don't try to pass off others' content as your own. Pause and think before hitting publish.
Don't try to pass off others' content as your own. Pause and think before hitting publish.

Think Before You Type

In the world of social media, it's easier than ever to share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. On a day-to-day basis, it's actually pretty awesome. We can keep up with old friends, family who lives far away, or connect with people halfway across the world. I've made many amazing friends on Instagram in the past few years who I never would have met in the physical world.

Social media can bring us together, but it can also tear us apart. When you see something you don't like, it's easy to leave a critical or hateful comment. Disagree with something someone's posted? Why not let them know? Can't stand the Kardashians? Follow all their pages and accounts and leave hateful comments every time they post something. Sitting comfortably on the other side of a screen gives a boost of confidence to type out whatever is on your mind at any given moment. But consider this: everything you post on the internet lives forever. We see real evidence of this when old tweets come out of seemingly nowhere to tear a celebrity down in a fury of scandal. Consider this: what do you have to gain by leaving a negative, hateful, or mean-spirited comment? Is it necessary or appropriate to post gossip or details about a conflict you might, or might not be, involved in? Is it really worth your time?

Instead of jumping on social media to air out your frustrations every time you're upset or stressed out, try taking a break from your phone. Get up and go outside for a walk. Do a little yoga. Go for a run. Maybe, read a book or enjoy a hot bubble bath. Find a way to clear your mind before you decide to hit publish and post something online you later regret. This is also true for when you find yourself on the receiving end of not-so-nice comments or DMs. Although in that situation, I find that deleting the comment and blocking the account is not only satisfying, but also prevents the same thing happening again.

Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.

— Theodore Roosevelt

Personal Responsibility

  • The world does not owe you anything.
  • The world does not just hand you anything you want, anytime you want it.
  • Respect is not given, it is earned.

In order to achieve success, you must first take personal responsibility for your actions, your reactions, and your life overall. You control you. You decide if you are going to further your education, have a job, accomplish your goals. Yes, there are challenges in life. There will be obstacles. Life is not always easy, but it's how you approach those challenges that determine who you are. Are you going to lay down, cry, whine, and give up; Or are you going to take stock of the situation and figure out a way to work through it? Are you going to complain, blame anyone and everyone else for all that's wrong in your life, be miserable, and stay stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity; Or are you going to take responsibility for your life, do some research, educate yourself, and work hard every day to better yourself?

Taking responsibility for yourself is the first step to achieving a life you want to live. Don't like your job? Start filling out applications for new jobs. Go back to school and get an education in something you will enjoy. As you work toward your new goal, be grateful that you have a job, a way to pay the expenses, and a stepping stone to a better future. Tired of being overweight? Start making small changes. Replace sugary drinks with water. Start making healthier food choices. Find a workout program that you are going to stick to and stay committed. Start an accountability blog, YouTube channel, or Instagram account. It's never too late to accept responsibility for yourself and start leading a better life.

Respect is earned, not given. You need to show respect in order to receive it. You don't walk into a room, or walk up to strangers, and demand respect. You'll never get it. It always starts with you. Remember your manners, don't speak over people, don't interrupt in the middle of a conversation, know what you're talking about, and be informed. Dress appropriately for every occasion. Don't be rude. Above all, treat everyone how you want to be treated, in every encounter.

Take responsibility for yourself. It's your life. Work hard and go after your dreams!
Take responsibility for yourself. It's your life. Work hard and go after your dreams!

© 2019 Alyssa


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    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      15 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you so much Martie!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      16 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you so much Brenda! Have a wonderful day!

    • Brenda Arledge profile image


      16 months ago from Washington Court House

      Alyssa...such a good detailed piece of work.

      It is a shame that in todays world with advanced technology that human beings can still be so rude. I guess etiquette has not caught up with the technological advances.

      Thanks for the good read. Lots of great advice.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      18 months ago from South Africa

      Excellent hub! I like your views and advice. "Don't you dare call me. We aren't cavemen. Send me a text like a normal person." Funny, but true.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      18 months ago from Ohio

      Right? My thoughts exactly. The decent folks don't need this article and the ones who aren't probably won't read it, but it made me feel better to write it. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend! :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Okay, my first reaction was this: we have to teach people how to be decent??? Isn't that something we should already know? but then I went for a walk, and observed my fellow man, and now I've decided this article should be required reading for any two-legged creature. :)

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      18 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you, John. :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Some wonderful advice here Alyssa. The world would be a better place if everyone followed this.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      18 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you so much, Pamela! :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      18 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I absolutely agree with your first paragraph, and the view on manners throughout this article. I wish everyone would act the way you suggest. I was taught the samd things you were as a child. Thanks for a very good article that everyone should think over and apply to their lives.


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