If I ask you whether you’re a better person or not, how would you respond?
If you’re a good person, you won’t say you are. And if you aren’t, you would say you are. Strange, right?
Perhaps, it’s hard to tell about ourselves. And it’s probably hard to learn from ourselves. Not impossible, but hard. Yet, if we look at people’s lives, we can learn a lot easier.
Well, it’s through the power of judging people. Some good and evil, but stories of people always help us to learn and improve.
If you read the books by Ryan Holiday, you’d find stories of hundreds of different people that can guide you to stay good – at least in critical situations. Though, reading books can become tedious for you.
And even if it’s possible, you might not remember all the stories.
Therefore, I’ve compiled this list of great people, not all, but a few from many who understood their purpose and allowed themselves to see the world with positivity.
Some were highly successful, so some gave us crucial aspects of life.
From resilience to forgiveness to empathy to love, they share invaluable wisdom. I believe, through these personalities, you’d learn a lot and become a better person if you’re not already.
Before you start, I’d like to mention that these people aren’t what you hear these days when it comes to being successful or great.
And the reason is that in today’s time, people only give credit to those who’ve achieved a lot of money, Instagram or YouTube followers, and fame.
But, this post isn’t about fame or money, rather about becoming a better person. So, with that in mind, let’s see our one of the greatest people of all time.
1. Louis Zamperini – an Olympian, WWII Fighter & Survivor of the Japanese Prisoner-of-War Camp
The life of Louis teaches us that resilience can help us overcome the greatest tragedy. Hate can make us miserable, and forgiveness allows us to be free and fulfilling.
During his time as a POW at a Japanese camp, he went through many tortures. From being beaten up naked to getting punched by hundreds of fellow prisoners, his resilience made him tolerate or endure all of that.
However, it also filled him with the emotion of anger and revenge toward his prison guard Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe.
After the war, back in his country, he burned in the fire of revenge, which made him waste himself with alcohol.
Yet, after the church’s teachings and understanding of the power of forgiveness, he realised how liberating it is to forgive ourselves by forgiving others.
A significant lesson he learned to become a better person, indeed.
2. Jackie Robinson – the First African American to Play in Major League Baseball
Even in 2022, where movements like Black Lives Matter have to exist, we can understand how hard it was for black people in the 50s, 60s, or 70s.
Despite white’s bad behaviour toward people of colour, Jackie Robinson shows us that by not submitting to criticism and hate, we can summon invaluable power to do what is essential.
During his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he went through much racism and hate.
However, he endured all of that and showed that he’s a better person than all who treated him wrong. He showed that if someone does wrong to you and you do the same to them, then you become that person.
3. Sindhutai Sapkal – an Indian Social Worker Awarded With Padma Shri
It’s easier to care for people who are not related to you when you don’t have additional responsibility.
You’re alone, ready to embark on any journey that will come your way.
But that’s not the case with Sindhutai Sapkal, who was forced to beg on railway platforms with her only child when her marriage failed.
During her time on the platforms, she realised there were so many orphaned kids who needed help. So, she adopted them, and later this became her mission.
“I am there for all those who have no one,” that’s how she defined her purpose.
However, while caring for those children, she might have experienced more love towards her daughter. And that’s what she didn’t want to do. So, to overcome her priority and prejudice issue, she donated her own child.
This is a hard, heartbreaking and courageous deed.
Not only this, but to feed her children, she used to cook chapati on the pyre fire at the cremation ground. Nobody is supposed to do that.
Not sure about you, but I cannot. Yet, Sindhutai did that all alone with no one to support her.
If 1% of what she experienced in her life happens to us, I guess we won’t be able to move. We won’t be able to talk. Because even if one friend or family member doesn’t speak to us, it feels like nobody’s there for us. There’s no sense in living.
But she endured all of that. Every single thing and never thought to end any of that.
Her life teaches us that to become a better person and do something incredible, we have to sacrifice more, even if it’s our soul. We have to face the worst situation in our life. And keep moving on, no matter how heavy our legs are.
In January 2022, Sindhutai Sapkal left this world with over 1,500 orphaned children she adopted and took care of.
Many of her children are well settled today and even serve different countries internationally. This is so inspiring and fulfilling that those children that once had nothing are now taking part in moving the economy a nation.
4. Oskar Schindler – a German Industrialist & Member of the Nazi Party
Perhaps, Oskar Schindler wasn’t loyal to his wife. And to be honest, he was not. But other than his disloyalty to his wife, what he did for Jews during WWII is enough to qualify him as a better person.
Or perhaps in my eyes.
Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist whose company employed many polish Jews during Nazi persecution.
And what he did to save them all, he bought them by giving all of his money. No matter how precious the things were to him, he just gave them away to save every single person who worked at his factory.
Perhaps even those who didn’t.
His work shows us that empathy allows us to save people – even for a single person – it’s enough to save more.
5. Władysław Szpilman – a Polish Pianist and Survivor of the German Holocaust
Wars are terrible; no one benefits from them.
One of the hardest and most disastrous wars is WWII. And it was even harder for the Jews of Poland.
The war changed their entire socio-economic lifestyle. And for Władysław Szpilman, things were even worse. From a star pianist, he was forced to become a wanderer in the city as a beggar.
However, despite this, he didn’t lose his temper and continued to save himself, silently and safely. He even witnessed that no matter how cruel people try to become, somewhere always remains a shade of humanity in them.
When he was hiding in ruins, a German officer used to give him food.
This incident teaches us that, despite all cruelty in the world, it’s not hard to show a little bit of kindness. We always have the choice to behave as better people.
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6. Leigh Anne Tuohy – an American Businesswoman and Mother of Michael Oher
Racism against Blacks by Whites is a natural thing. It’s hard-wired in their blood from long that it will take time to go, which is a must.
However, when Leigh Anne Tuohy saw Michael Oher on the road in a pair of t-shirts and shorts on a cold rainy night, this – the thing of prejudice – didn’t come into her mind. Instead, she said, “what is he wearing? It’s below freezing.”
And the next thing she did was bring Michael into her house and later adopt him as her son.
The fact is that prior to Michael, she had multiple incidents where she acted like a racist. However, she never let that thing come between her devotion to Michael. She saw good in him and later encouraged him to do good with his life.
And the same did the entire Tuohy family.
Anne’s actions send this message: to do good in life; we must understand that the person next to us is no different.
He can breathe like us. He can feel pain like us. And definitely can dream like us, and above all deserves everything just like us. No matter what his colour, race, class or religion. He’s just another human being just like us.
Therefore, try to be a better person, not only to the people of your community but rather to all.
7. Ashoka – an Indian Emperor of the Mauryan Empire Before Turning Into a Buddhist Monk
Before becoming the king of Patilputra and expanding the Mauryan Empire to almost every reason of India, Ashoka had to kill dozens of his brothers and people who were against him.
He slew and slew and slew and slew many people that we cannot imagine to become one of the greatest kings of all time.
But does that make him a better person? I believe not.
Killing people and expanding your empire on the lives of others isn’t great. Instead, it’s a deed of selfishness, mercilessness and never-ending desire.
Nevertheless, whenever Ashoka’s name comes, people tend to treat him well. They respect him. Value him and feel proud to be one of the people of his land.
Because after the war of Kalinga, he learned something very significant.
The war of Kalinga brought destruction in an insurmountable number. Death tolls, cries, and loss were so high that Ashoka had never witnessed them before.
And by looking at all of those, he blamed himself that it was all because of him. And indeed it was.
So, he decided never to wage another war again. Never to expand his armies and never to preach violence above peace. So why is he a better person?
Well, it will be great if you answer this question yourself and let me know in the comments.
8. Gyalwa Rinpoche (the 14th Dalai Lama) – Highest Spiritual Leader of Tibet
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is no secret to anybody. He’s approachable to all and known to all. But what is it that makes him a good person?
Is it because he’s a spiritual leader? Is it because he talks about peace and love? Or is it because he’s “the Dalai Lama”?
Well, for some, these could be the reason; however, the biggest one is that, despite what happened to him, his family and people, he never left the hand of his ideology. He never took another path than peace and non-violence.
If something like that happens to us, we would probably buy a gun and rebel all the way.
Also, we can’t take this discussion on the Dalai Lama in another direction by saying that he’s a monk who was supposed to behave that way. Because there were many saints and monks who turned rogue when something bad happened to them.
That’s why the Dalai Lama has a special place other than all.
9. Alan Turing – an English Mathematician and the Father of Theoretical Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
During WWII, Alan Turing made an incredible breakthrough by breaking the Enigma for the Allied forces.
It changed the world. It allowed the good side of the west to win over the bad side of the west. However, during his tenure as a code breaker, he was not quite good to people around him. He was hard and stubborn.
But still, he managed to win the war. Make a change in the lives of millions of people. And to do that, he had to play a bad guy’s role.
Thus, it teaches us that sometimes to do something right; you’ve to be hard. You’ve to look bad so that people can do the things that are right and they were supposed to do. In that situation, you don’t think that you’re getting painted as a hell’s devil.
He knew if he became soft, they wouldn’t be able to save more lives and stop the war.
He knew if he reported the burglary his male lover did, he would be charged with gross indecency due to laws in the UK in the year of 1950s, but he did report the event and was later punished with stilboestrol.
And therefore, his life teaches us how to be a better person despite no matter how bad we look to the people.
10. Shabari – one of the Devotees of Lord Rama
If you’re Hindu and from India, you probably know who Shabari was. But if not, let me share it briefly.
In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Shabari is one of the devotees of Lord Rama, who were waiting for Rama’s arrival. To greet him, she used to go out every day and pluck berries and taste them, whether they were sweet or not.
If she found them good, she kept them.
Upon Rama’s arrival, she greeted them with the berries, which Lord Rama accepted by mentioning to Laxmana, who raised a concern on the already eaten berries, “Whomsoever offers a fruit, leaf, flower or some water with love, I partake in it with great joy.”
This epic incident unfolds curtains from the fact that a wrong deed done unknowingly with the right intentions will never put you in a bad situation.
Yes, you’ll be questioned, but you’d never be found guilty.
As a matter of fact, you’ll be treated as a good person. Or perhaps, innocent, the one who did wrong unknowingly.
11. Michael David Edwards (Eddie the Eagle) – the First Competitor Since 1928 to Represent Great Britain in Olympic Ski Jumping
To win, everyone plays. But to participate, there are only a few.
Michael David Edwards, whom people also knew as Eddie the Eagle, was one of those few.
A better person is someone who doesn’t strive for gold, respect, honour or anything that brings ego with it. Instead, the one who’s better is always striving to do something, not to become something.
And that’s what Eddie did when he was aspiring to participate in the Olympics as a ski jumper.
His life and what he did tell us that if you want to find joy, it could also come from losing. You don’t always have to try to win and keep the hunger for more alive, which in a sense doesn’t feel like happiness.
Because if winning keeps you happy, it means you’re empty.
12. Desmond Thomas Doss – a US Corporal Twice Awarded With the Bronze Star Medal
When he was a kid, he swore he would never pick up a weapon, especially a gun. Despite his oath, he joined the army. So, how he was supposed to be loyal to his promise. Well, he didn’t pick up the gun.
What Desmond Thomas Doss did back then was an unacceptable act in the US army. For which he was court marshalled, but somehow survived that and went to perform his duties in the war as a medic.
Now, if you were at his place, what would you have done? Basically, you would’ve helped your mates, treated their wounds and saved the lives of the soldiers.
Thomas did the same, but not only for the men of the US army. Instead, he also treated the men of the enemy and saved their lives as well. What a douchebag, right?
But this is what makes him a better person.
In his eyes, his duty was to save people. And for his purpose, a person’s flag didn’t come in his way. Whatever he was doing back then, he was serving the purpose of the god. And to show people that even in war, we can help each other.
But what people used to do today is dwell too much on their own problems and don’t give a damn about others.
That’s why Thomas deserved the Medal of Honour for heroism even without bearing arms. And it was before the 4th Geneva Convention.
13. Indira Gandhi – 1st Lady Prime Minister of India
Some people wouldn’t agree with this. And especially the people of my caste – the Rajputs.
The reason for them to hate Indira Gandhi is that she brought balance to the country by handing over the lands of the Kshtriaya people to those who were working in the fields. She recovered the nation’s growth by cutting the privy purse we people used to get.
She integrated Sikkim, liberated Bangladesh and represented India as a strong nation, among others.
And if this doesn’t satisfy you, read what I’ve to say next.
The intelligence report cautioned Gandhi that she was under threat from her Sikh bodyguards during the times of the Bluestar Project. But, she didn’t take it for granted and responded that she trusted them.
Even so, those were the ones who took her life. So, how is she not a better person?
I hope the stories I’ve mentioned in this will inspire you and help you do good in life. Although what I’ve shared is just a glimpse of these people’s lives, they are enough to make a change in your life.
Yes, we cannot change altogether, but we can try. And trying is enough because it will lead you to that place where you can try better.
That’s it. Thank you for being here.
Putting thoughts for everyone.
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