We spend the better part of our lives grappling with defining goodness and trying to discern where we fall on the spectrum of goodness as individuals. Our humanity granted us the gift, and maybe curse, of consciousness, or awareness.
With that awareness and our humanly emotions comes the obligation to be a "good" person and leave the earth better than you found in it, in some way, shape, or form.
But how does one even define "good"? Does goodness mean to treat oneself with love and respect so as to pass that love on to others? Or perhaps, does kindness mean to place others before oneself in all occasions? Does being virtuous suggest viewing the world from multiple perspectives and applying those mindsets as much as possible?
Defining something like goodness is tough to do because it's one of those vague "philosophical-esque" concepts. People have varying thoughts as to the degrees of selflessness that constitute being good. Flawed human nature also ensures that people perceive their actions towards themselves and others differently than someone else might view that same person's behavior. For example, Matthias might view himself as self-hating but generous towards others, while Jordan views Matthias as both selfish and narcissistic.
Even though several definitions of virtuousness exist and new versions will emanate from the old, I think the best way to define goodness is as a multi-faceted notion. Goodness involves advocating for the voiceless; choosing selflessness as much as possible; prioritizing self-love and self-care; exercising adaptability, and willing to consider multiple outlooks; standing up for what is morally right; building your character; and seeking ways to better the things that are in your control, while spreading awareness or letting go of what is out of your reach, depending on what the issue is.
My point in the above loose-leaf definition is that goodness is complicated. Even still, you probably know somebody who encompasses most of those qualities and acts to become the best person they can be. But that person isn't perfect. They can still do bad things, make mistakes.
You're not a bad person if you do a bad thing and you're not necessarily a good person when you perform a good deed.
Change takes time and that is why so many of us spend the bulk of our lives trying to be good people and building on the person we were yesterday so that we can be even better tomorrow. Goodness, too, takes time and is as much a journey as it is a concept because the older and wiser you get, the more you know. And the more knowledge you've obtained, the more you might realize the need for kindness in the world and how so little can go such a long way.
Every person is different and we go through good and bad periods in our lives but I believe we can ultimately be good or bad people. Our label as good or bad is definitely subject to change, which means you can work to improve your reputation.
I think the bottom line when it comes to goodness, though, is that you can consider yourself a good person if you can honestly say that you are trying to be a better human being and practicing empathy towards others. Virtuousness boils down to a balance of self-love and empathy. Because, you know, love makes the world go 'round.
Staying stagnant never helped anyone. Work to change for the better and you're on the path to golden goodness. Just remember to do your best to keep yourself in check.