What Does It Mean to Be a Good Human?

By Josh Owens | September 24, 2019

Hello, people of Earth!

My name is Josh and I’m looking for good in the world. In some ways, I think I always have been. It’s only recently, however, that I feel I may be on the right track.

To explain why, I thought it might be fitting to begin at the beginning. But I'm not sure what/where/when that is, exactly. Is anyone?

I was raised in a far-right conservative cult. My father was a pastor. I was in church multiple times a week. I read my Bible religiously (had to do it). I prayed. I even recruited for our cult several times a week. The concept of "good" was all too familiar. And I was crushing it.

Except I wasn't. I never absorbed any of it. The Bible and the preaching and the prayer and the jargon and the certainty and the rules and the dualistic thinking never changed me. Religion didn't make me a better person. I never heard God speak to me, like the preachers that would tell stories about "God's leading". Putting money in the offering plate never brought blessings from God that were "pressed down, shaken together, and running over". Keeping the Ten Commandments didn't create a fulfilling and  joyful life. God wasn't real. I was lost, confused, naive, and incredibly self-centered. Being good wasn't about ACTUALLY being good. It was about what was in it for me. It was a masturbatory exercise in ego stroking and self-gratification through ritualistically and blindly following the rules set forth by the powers that be.

And thus goes the history of humankind.

I've said this to a few friends, recently, but I am not the same person I was 6 months ago. In fact, I've been quite a few different people, over the last few years. In fact-ier fact, I feel like I'm several different people at this very moment. No, I'm not schizophrenic (and neither am I), I'm just saying that I have found myself to be in a constant state of flux, as of late. I am not certain about anything, and it is GLORIOUS. This isn't an unrelated rant, it connects, and here's how. New ideas, new information, new perspectives, new experiences, and new people have taught me that being "good" isn't about achieving. It's not about arriving. It's not about YOU. Or ME. It's about US. All of us together, being good for, with, among, and because of each other. It's about creating a world we'd like to live in. That being said, I’d like to share some ideas I’ve gathered from some incredible people I’ve gotten to speak to on my podcast, Good Humans, about how to be a Good Human.

  1. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. Do what you can, when you can, how you can. It’s not hard. A simple smile, holding a door, paying for a coffee, or sending a kind message… we don’t know what could brighten someone’s day or be the turning point. You have something to offer and you can offer it. - Stuart Hardy

  2. Be aware of yourself and the impact you’re having on the world. Are you making your current situation better? Are you making life harder for others? Are you simply not making life better for others? Simply doing a quick check-in, now and then, about your impact in any given situation can be a game-changer. - Cecilia Owens

  3. Show compassion. Allow others the space to exist, to be themselves, to grow, and to be wrong sometimes. We aren’t islands unto ourselves, we don’t have to live like we are. - Evan Jones

  4. Do the next right thing. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice, it just has to be the right thing to do, in the moment. In any given moment, what are you choosing to do? How are you choosing to act? When you’re having a bad day or experiencing pain, are you still choosing to do the next right thing? - Evan Small

  5. Use your platform for good. You have influence over someone, so use it conscientiously and intentionally. - Joel Gratcyk

  6. Honesty and authenticity inspire the same in others. We each have unique experiences, thoughts, and worldviews, so let’s encourage and inspire each other to share those openly and humbly, learning from each other along the way. - Ryan Kwasneski

  7. Do good without expectation of anything in return. I heard a quote “Expectation is resentment waiting to happen” and it changed my life. Doing good without expecting a reward ensures that your good-doing is sustainable, because it’s for you, not for recognition or payback. - Joe Chura

  8. Embrace your imagination and allow yourself to use it to bring to life things that can be or need to be revived. Our imaginations are powerful and can be formidable forces for good or bad, so why not turn them to good and find out what we’re capable of? - CJ Casciotta

  9. Just be nice, plain and simple, even if it’s not convenient. Have you ever had a moment when you just needed some grace? I certainly have. Whether it’s arriving late for a meeting, botching a project, forgetting a birthday, or neglecting an errand, we’ve all needed someone to be nice, even though we made their day more difficult. Let’s extend the same to others. Brad Reichelt

  10. Be like Jesus. No, not in the cliché ‘WWJD’ way, but in the ‘rebel against the status quo, call out injustice, extend a hand to the disenfranchised and outcasts, be a warrior for human dignity’ way. - Andy Hardy

  11. Respect yourself and respect other people. Allowance for people to make mistakes and grow and helping them along the way comes from a place of respect for their person and their humanity. - Christopher Swan

  12. Love others the same way you love yourself. And that means ACTUALLY loving yourself, first. We often act from the way we feel about ourselves, so truly loving ourselves provides the context and path to love others. - Eui-Young Kim

  13. Invest in people consistently. We all need help, sometimes, but we can also all GIVE help sometimes. There’s no better feeling than when someone makes an effort to improve your life, especially when they could just as easily save themselves the effort. - James Lee

  14. Live outside of yourself. So much energy is expended on inward focus, but living with a focus on others’ needs and feelings is an extremely effective way to be present and to really live intentionally. - Dan Shin

And there you have it. The reason Good Humans exists, and proof that there are people doing good in the world! I want to explore these ideas with anyone and everyone I can, because the world needs us. All of us. Exploring better ways to be Human.

Be good to each other.

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