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  • Writer's pictureMegan DiMaria

Character traits in real life and books

Do you appreciate admirable character traits?

Excuse me while I get a little introspective. I've been counting my blessings lately, and ALL of them are people, not things.

No surprise there. I have amazing family and friends.

What I truly value about those who are a close to me are the attributes of their characters. As I thought about my loved ones and friends, I compiled a list of what I admire most about them.

Yes, this is what's needed in excess in our world (and in the books we read):

  • Kindness

  • Generosity

  • Courage

  • Integrity

  • Humor

  • Confidence

  • Humility

  • Gratitude

  • Honesty

  • Compassion

  • Commitment

  • Resilience

  • Love

My little exercise nearly brought me to tears. I’m blessed to have remarkable people in my life.

As a writer, I'd like to take this idea a bit further. I believe good art elevates us and takes us to a better place emotionally and psychologically. I fall in love with books that lift me up. I fall in love with characters whose personal attributes make me want to be a better person. It's highly unusual for me to keep reading a novel if I don't see some of these attributes in the main character.

I say highly unusual because last year I read an award-winning and highly acclaimed novel that left me flat. The prose was achingly beautiful. The descriptions, stunning. But the character, who overcame some difficult circumstances, was not admirable to me. When I reached "the end," I wanted to toss the book across the room. Her only commitment was to herself, and her integrity was situational.

It's easy to see the base and ugly parts of humanity (go on social media these days for that--there's plenty of folks stirring up dissension). So now, more than ever, we need books that lift us up and make us want to pursue goodness and kindness.

And in our everyday life we need to pursue attributes that will lift up humanity. So I urge you to be a light to a rapidly dimming culture. Practice kindness and show love. AND read a good book!


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