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9 signs you have a genuinely good heart, according to psychology

We all like to think we’re good people at heart.

But as people, sometimes we also need guidance to know right from wrong.

So, how can we truly know?

Here’s where psychology comes in. It helps us figure out if our hearts are truly as good as we believe—as we want them to be.

And in this article, we dive into the signs that you have a genuinely good heart, according to psychology.

1) Empathy is your second nature

There are so many human emotions, but among all of them, empathy stands as a hallmark of a genuinely good heart.

And it’s not just me saying this—psychology backs it up.

In this article from Very Well Mind, Kendra Cherry, MSEd, defines empathy as “the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place.”

More so, empathy is a complex interplay of both cognitive and emotional processes. And people who embody this naturally are often characterized as having good hearts.

Empathy is the person who will sit with you when you’re down, share in your excitement when you’re up, and offer a shoulder when life gets tough.

Don’t get me wrong, having empathy doesn’t mean you’re a pushover. It means you have the remarkable ability to connect with others on a deeper level.

2) You’re always there to lend a hand

A couple of years ago, I was rushing to an important meeting. As I hurried down the street, I noticed an elderly woman struggling with her grocery bags.

Without a second thought, I stopped and helped her carry her bags to her doorstep.

This automatic response to help did make me late for my meeting, but it also made me realize something important about myself: I valued kindness over convenience.

This willingness to help others, even at your own cost, is a strong sign that you have a good heart. It’s called altruism.

According to Psychology Today, altruism is “acting to help someone else at some cost to oneself.”

In my case, even if I was late to my meeting, knowing that I helped someone made it all worth it.

That’s because altruism is all about selfless concern for the well-being of others. It’s the act of helping without expecting anything in return.

It’s not for recognition or rewards, but for making someone else’s day a little bit easier.

3) You practice forgiveness

Did you know that holding on to grudges can actually be detrimental to your health?

Forgiveness, on the other hand, can lead to lower levels of anxiety and depression, better heart health, and even a stronger immune system.

But more than just being good for your health, forgiveness is a key indicator of a genuinely good heart. It’s letting go of resentment and anger towards someone who has caused you harm.

It goes without saying that forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or condoning the harm done to you. Rather, it’s releasing the hold these negative emotions have over you.

It’s choosing peace over revenge—love over hate.

4) You’re honest, even when it’s hard

Honesty is more than just telling the truth. It’s being genuine with yourself and others, even when it’s not the most convenient route.

This authenticity is a trait of only those with a truly good heart possess.

Psychology tells us that honesty is linked to moral integrity. It shows respect for the truth and the importance of building trust in relationships.

But let’s be clear: honesty doesn’t mean being brutally blunt or insensitive. It means expressing your feelings and thoughts sincerely, but also tactfully.

In return, people find you reliable, trustworthy, and respectable.

5) You show respect to everyone

In this article from Psychology Today, Cindy Watson B.A., LLB, JD defines respect as the following:

“Respect—giving and getting—is an important factor in negotiations and produces best outcomes.”

Simply put, this means that treating others with respect is a manifestation of empathy and kindness.

Because when you respect others, they respect you back—and it’s essential to creating healthy relationships and fostering a positive environment.

But respect goes beyond mere politeness. It involves listening to others, valuing their opinions, and treating them as equals; it’s appreciating the diversity and uniqueness in each person.

6) You feel genuine joy in the happiness of others

There’s something absolutely beautiful about finding pure joy in the happiness of others. It’s like a warm glow that lights up your heart and reminds you of the interconnectedness of all beings.

This profound experience is called “mudita” in Buddhist philosophy.

In Sharon Salzberg’s book, Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, “mudita” is defined as “the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.”

In psychology, this is similar to the concept of altruism. It’s an indication of selflessness and empathy.

It shows that you’re not just invested in your own happiness, but also in the happiness of those around you.

7) You’re not afraid to show your emotions

I remember a time when I was watching a heartwarming movie with a friend, and I found myself tearing up at the emotional climax.

A friend who was watching with me was surprised, remarking that they’d never seen me cry before.

That moment made me realize something important: showing emotions is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength—of having a truly good heart.

When you’re able to show your true emotions as another person is expressing their own to you, this is a sign of emotional intelligence.

Mental Health America describes people with high emotional intelligence as being able to “identify how they are feeling, what those feelings mean, and how those emotions impact their behavior and in turn, other people.”

In short, genuinely expressing your emotions show that you’re genuine—that you’re allowing yourself to feel joy, sadness, anger, fear, all of which make us human.

8) You’re a good listener

Good listening goes beyond just hearing what someone is saying. It’s being present, showing empathy, and understanding without judgment.

According to Very Well Mind, active listening is “a communication skill that involves going beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks.”

Having a good heart means you possess this quality.

You don’t just listen with your ears, but with your heart as well. You understand that sometimes, people don’t need advice or solutions. Sometimes, they just need someone who will truly listen.

After all, a good listener isn’t just good company—they’re a source of comfort in a world that often doesn’t take the time to truly hear.

9) You strive to be better

The most telling sign of a genuinely good heart is the continual striving for personal growth and betterment. It’s recognizing your faults and making a conscious effort to improve.

This article from The Harvard Business Review explains how being self-aware makes us confident, creative, decisive, and more effective communicators.

This means that when you’re self-aware, you’re also showing signs of emotional maturity and strength.

It means you’re not complacent with who you are but are always striving to be the best version of yourself.

Final thoughts

The essence of a genuinely good heart transcends the simplicity of everyday kindness.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.

This quote rings true in assessing the goodness of one’s heart. It’s not just being good when it’s easy, but maintaining that goodness even when it’s difficult.

As you reflect on these signs, remember that you don’t have to be perfect to have a good heart.

To strive to be better, be authentic, and to treat others with kindness and respect is more than enough to be a good person.

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