Food for thought: How can we expect anyone else to be a good person if we can't be a good person ourselves?

Recently, I had a conversation with some coworkers about heroes. One coworker was listing out his heroes, which included several sports players, singers, and a gorilla. You can learn a lot about people from whom they idolize and admire. Another coworker included Batman in his list of heroes. Someone else had Shakespeare. I chose a lot of strong female characters, including the protagonist from the “Kill Bill” movies.

But you don’t have to be famous or fictional to be a hero.

I also included people I knew.

Earlier that day, this group of coworkers told another coworker to stop giving me a difficult time. He was poking fun at me that crossed the line of being funny, and then his comments became outright mean. But these coworkers later told him that he needed to lighten up on me. These were the coworkers that I was discussing heroes with. I told them that they were my heroes for simply looking out for me.

Earlier in the week, I nearly suffered a heat stroke when the air conditioning broke at work. It was some of the hottest days of summer, and I nearly passed out from the heat. Three of my coworkers ran around getting ice and bringing me to a cooler area, basically making sure that I didn’t die. They are my heroes too.

Earlier in the year, a smoothie spilled in my backpack. I was on the bus to catch a train and head into the city. While I racked my brain for public restrooms that I could try to clean up in, a young woman saw my dilemma and quickly pulled a pack of wet wipes from her purse. She gave me the entire pack, telling me to keep it when I tried to offer back the extra. She’s among my list of heroes too.

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It only takes a small act of kindness to make someone’s day.

We can easily be heroes with a small gesture of kindness.

I want to believe that there are good people in the world. I want to believe that people won’t lie to me. I want to believe that people aren’t cheaters, and I want to believe that people aren’t thieves. I want to believe that people will do the right thing. I want to believe that people can care for each other.

I want to believe that we can be heroes.

I do believe that we can be heroes.

I also believe that we have to be the change that we want to see.

The only way I can believe in good people is if I live as one. The only way I can believe that people are not liars is if I hold myself above lying. The only way I can believe that people aren’t cheaters is if I do not engage in cheating myself. The only way that I can believe people will do the right thing is if I continuously hold myself to the same thing.

The only way I can believe in heroes is if I live as one.

I can’t believe any of this if I do not hold myself to my own beliefs.

Maybe this does mean that people like me are getting pushed around more than others. We aren’t stealing, lying, and cheating to get what we want. We aren’t retaliating when others steal, lie, or cheat on us.

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We are living honestly by our own values, the way that we want others to live when our lives cross paths with them.

The only way I can begin to expect good things from people is if I live as one myself.

How can I expect people to tell me the truth if I am not above lying?

How can I expect my significant other not to cheat on me if I am willing to do so?

How can I expect other people to help me if I do not help them?

How can I expect other people to respect me if I do not respect them?

We believe certain things about the world. Some of us believe that everyone is terrible. Some people that everyone will cheat if given the chance. Some people expect others to lie, and refuse to believe the truth even if it is told to them.

Changing this world to a more positive place starts with you. It's in your words, your actions, the way you treat others, and the way you treat yourself.

We have these beliefs about the world because it is what we see and what we experience.

The only way to counter these preconceived negative notions about the world and about people is if we live as the antithesis of the mainstream negative expectations.

Then we prove that it is possible to be a good person.

We prove that we can be heroes.

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If we can be heroes, then others may believe that they can be too. And soon, we may find our positive energy becomes infectious, spreading through people until more people are being the change in the world that they want to see.

Until more people are becoming heroes.

It all starts with ourselves, and holding ourselves to our own expectations.