The five most important character traits to have are compassion, kindness, openness, honesty and humility. While it is easy to list these characteristics, it can be more difficult to put them into action.

Showing compassion, kindness, openness, honesty and humility toward others is essential to building communities. How can you exercise these qualities in your day-to-day life? Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


Everyone has had grade school lessons about different personality traits. Integrity, honesty, respect, perseverance, optimism and generosity are just a few of the characteristics that children learn about. Some characteristics, such as selfishness and jealousy, do not need to be taught in order to be learned. 

There are many different characteristics that people can have, but in my opinion the five most important traits are compassion, kindness, openness, honesty and humility.

Showing kindness and compassion toward others can make communities better places. How have you shown kindness recently? Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Compassion is the ability to understand and feel other people’s emotions, and it is an urge to help others when they are in need.

Compassion has been vital to the survival of mankind. Compassion is what drives people to help others who have been affected by natural disasters, for example. 

Who do you know that embodies a spirit of compassion? Photo by Sarah McGowan

Volunteers at food pantries or animal shelters are compassionate toward those they are serving. A teacher who spends extra time outside of class to help a student catch up on their schoolwork is an expression of compassion.

Kindness goes hand-in-hand with compassion. Kindness is the quality of being considerate and generous toward others.

Kindness allows a person to build others up around them, and it can make their community a happier place. 

A few examples of acts of kindness include paying for another person’s order at a restaurant or drive-thru, giving up a seat for someone else on a crowded bus or train, or picking up litter outside. 

Openness means being receptive to new ideas and experiences.

It allows the spread and evolution of new ways of living and thinking among societies.

Openness causes people to seek out new ideas, experiences and perspectives in life. What new things have you tried recently? Photo by pine watt on Unsplash

Examples of openness include trying new foods, traveling to and exploring new places, and learning new hobbies. 

Honesty is the quality of being truthful. An honest person avoids lying, cheating and stealing.

Having an honest character makes a person more reliable and trustworthy to others.

Being honest with oneself can help a person develop their own character as well.

Examples of honesty include admitting to mistakes, returning someone’s lost property, and giving constructive feedback to someone. 

Humility is the absence of excessive pride and arrogance.

People who are humble are able to see themselves more accurately, are more open to feedback from others, and can more easily accept and learn from their mistakes. 

Humility allows people to more accurately see and appreciate their place in the world. Would you consider yourself a humble person? Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Humble people ask for help when they need it, spend time listening to others, and are grateful for what they have. 

I believe compassion, kindness, openness, honesty and humility are the five most important characteristics a person can have.

These traits work together to make communities better because with these traits, people can spread happiness and joy in their communities.

How can you strengthen these characteristics in this season of your life?

By Sarah McGowan

Sarah McGowan is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. She is a communications studies major from O’Fallon, Missouri, and a member of MBU’s Literature Club.