20 Good Character Traits Essential For Happiness


“In temper he was Earnest, yet controlled, frank, yet sufficiently guarded, patient, yet energetic, forgiving, yet just to himself; generous yet firm.”

“His conscience was the strongest element of his nature. His affections were tender & warm. His whole nature was simple and sincere – he was pure, and then was himself.”

“Such a nature was admirably constituted to direct an heroic struggle on the part of a people proud enough to prefer a guide to a leader, a man commissioned to execute the popular will but, as in his case, strong enough to enforce his own.”

If you haven't guessed yet, these quotes were written about the character of the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a role model for character, integrity, and honesty, traits that never left him throughout the trials and tribulations of leading a country during one of the worst periods of its history.

Of course Lincoln was president during the 19th century when character was a highly-regarded quality. According to historian Warren Susman in his book Culture as History, the use of the word "character" peaked in the 19th century. “Character was a key word in the vocabulary of Englishmen and Americans,” says Susman, and so important to society that it was promoted as an essential component of one's identity.

Things began to change in the 20th century, as we transitioned from a producing to a consuming society. Emphasis shifted from a focus on virtue and character to a focus on self and material possessions. Says Susman, “The vision of self-sacrifice began to yield to that of self-realization.” It became more important to cultivate personality, influence, and outer perceptions than to develop nobility of heart, mind, and deed. Abraham Lincoln likely would never be elected president today.

Is developing good character an outdated, useless pursuit that has little relevance in modern society? If you look at many of today's role models (the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, sports celebrities), it would seem so. Who has time for boring character which gets in the way of an egocentric life?

However, it doesn't take much experience to discover how essential good character traits are when it comes to one's self-esteem, relationships, and life satisfaction . Individual character is the linchpin for a healthy, functioning society. Although it may not be a popular pursuit, developing your character is one of the most satisfying, emotionally healthy endeavors you'll ever undertake.

Good character consists of defining your values and integrity based on time-tested principles and self-reflection, and having the courage to live your life accordingly. So how do you begin to improve your character?

Let's look at 20 good character traits that impact your happiness . . .

(more…)