The ‘Ten Commandments’ of Character Development, Number Nine: Treat Others With Civility and Positive Regard

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Dr Simon’s series continues with the ninth of ‘ten commandments’ of character development: treating others with civility and positive regard.

I’ve been posting a series of articles on what I call the “ten commandments” of sound character development. These commandments are some of the most important calls to action my experience has taught me a person must heed in order to develop strength and integrity of character.

Prior posts have addressed the need we all have to avoid a sense of entitlement by striving to be grateful for all we’ve been given; the importance of developing a healthy and balanced sense of self-worth; and the need to gain mastery over our natural urge to seek pleasure, and to consciously subordinate this most basic instinct to the cause of life itself.

My last post dealt with the need to gain mastery over our aggressive instincts and urges. Learning when to fight and how to fight constructively for the things that really matter, while respecting the rights and needs of others, is a very big part of sound character development.

The next commandment has been phrased many ways over the ages and has often been called the “golden rule.” In my upcoming book, Character Disturbance [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK](?), I discuss this critical virtue:

Treat others with civility and generosity. Behave responsibly and with positive regard, even to those who do otherwise to you. While respect should rightfully be earned, treating others in the decent and genuinely loving manner that you would want for yourself is the most important of all virtues and should be done freely and without reservation.

You don’t have to condone or embrace everything someone else does to behave nobly yourself. Nor do you have to make yourself a victim by subjecting yourself to constant mistreatment. Rather, you need only remember that your character is defined not so much by how others regard you but rather how you treat them. And it takes a strong sense of generosity and a deep abiding faith to treat others with the kind of positive regard we wish for ourselves.

Most of us are plagued with anxiety about whether we will have enough, be supported enough, be valued enough, or prosper to the degree that we would like. But we need to remember that our very existence is not an entitlement but a gift. And despite the way it might appear at times, no one in this life has really been “cheated” or denied. Instead, we have been blessed with abundant gifts and resources. So, we should not envy others or greedily pursue your own welfare to the detriment of others. And from those to whom much has been given, much is expected. So, for the sake of our own well being, we must bring generosity and free giving into all our relationships, treating others not necessarily as we think they deserve but with the level of regard, care, compassion, and love that we truly wish for ourselves.

My next article will be the last in this series.

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