Yesterday, as I was reading Bob Sutton’s work manifesto , I was struck by his no. 9: “The best test of a person’s character is how he or she treats those with less power.” I love this way of thinking about character, and that statement got me thinking: What else is a test of a person’s true nature? Well, what a person finds funny is a good test. I asked a bunch of friends for their ideas.
- “How a person treats a waiter.”
- “Whether a person plays by the rules when no one is watching.”
- “How people behave when they’re pulled over while driving.”
- “How a person treats his or her own parents. And in-laws.”
- “My father told me never to trust a man who doesn’t drink—though he did say there are a few medical exceptions.” (Maybe I’m off the hook here as a woman, but I basically had to give up drinking , so I’d fail this test.)
- “How often they use the bcc function in work emails. I don’t think you should ever use the bcc.”
- “Whether a person eats a piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party.” (As an unconventional eater myself, I’d fail this test; I wouldn’t eat that birthday cake.)
- “How he or she handles good fortune.”
- “How he or she behaves during a long, arduous trip.”
- “It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain.”—John Henry Newman.
I get a tremendous kick out of collecting these kinds of observations. If you have one to add, please post it.
* Journalist Carlin Flora at
wrote a big piece on happiness,
, and she was kind enough to include a
* Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.