1. Being able to tell the difference between when a friend is joking around about something, and when they are actually trying to talk about something really serious that they are afraid/embarrassed to let other people know about.
2. Keeping the secrets you tell people that you will keep, even if there might be some social value in telling other people.
3. Not being afraid to help people when they are in need of help, even when they won’t admit that they need it. Even when helping them could make you seem like the bad guy, or put your relationship in at least temporary jeopardy.
4. Admitting the things that you were wrong about, and giving the kind of apology that isn’t just a half-assed “Sorry you took it that way” which absolves you of all responsibility.
5. Being able to hold someone — and to reserve all other analysis of the situation — when they just need to be held, and don’t need any more judgment or questions.
6. Knowing how to respect people’s choices, even when you don’t agree with them. (As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else, it’s really not your problem.)
7. Holding yourself to the same standard that you hold everyone else, even the people you don’t really like and are looking for any reason to criticize or cut down.
8. Being able to tell the difference between not getting along with someone and having a passive dislike for their life choices and actions, and “hating” someone, which, if we are honest, is a title that very few humans are worthy of.
9. Resisting the urge to actively wish bad things on the people who we feel don’t deserve success or all of the riches that they already have.
10. Being honest with the people you engage in relationships with about what you are looking for, how you feel about them, and what you are capable of giving. Not misleading people into opening up because they have been falsely led to believe (through omission or otherwise) that you are looking for the same thing.
11. Setting your own boundaries emotionally, physically, financially, and in every way you can — and letting go of the people who cannot respect them.
12. Understanding what it feels like to have your heart needlessly broken, and resolving not to do that to someone else if you can help it.
13. Actively choosing to surround yourself with the people who treat you will and who honestly care for you, and understanding that they can be your family just as much as the people you were born to.
14. Being as generous with your time and kindness as you can, and understanding that there is a lot of good you can do in the world simply by being the person who asks, “Is there anything I can do for you?” and actually means it. It may not seem like much, but when someone is mourning a loss or in a lot of trouble, it’s all that actually counts.
15. Showing up when you say you are going to, and keeping the promises you made, even when they inconvenience you.
16. Using your voice and your attention to push the positive things that deserve support, and not the negative things that you love to hate for the cheap thrill it provides.
17. Knowing the difference between “wasting your time” and “doing something that has no immediate benefit other than making you feel good, and happy, and loved.” And knowing that, in many cases, what is viewed as a “waste of time” is actually quite healthy and necessary.
18. Treating your body with kindness, and treating the bodies of others with the same kind of respect and compassion that you would want for your own. (This means no name-calling, no teasing, and no implications that they are not a “real” man or woman because of the way they might look.)
19. Giving people time to learn and try again when they fail, and not holding them to a perfect standard just because you had an easier time yourself. (This goes for you, all the people who had an easy time getting a job and now want to mock or deride the people who have a hard time doing the same.)
20. Not kicking people when they are down.
21. Recognizing the difference between a “friend” whose witheld affection serves to make you feel bad about yourself, and a friend who is so loving that you occasionally take them for granted.
22. Taking care of people the way you take care of someone in the first few months of falling in love with them — with every bit of attention, affection, and compassion that they deserve. The generosity of spirit that we often reserve for moments of infatuation is something that we all should feel from our friends and family and long-term partners. The version of yourself when you are head-over-heels is the version that you should aim to be every day.