In our quest to improve our character, we have learned a few lessons about ourselves. This has been a long journey. Sometimes the path is straight and clear, other times it is a steep and rocky climb. And sometimes we cannot see the path at all, but can only hope and guess that we are headed in the right direction. Here are a few things we have found to be true so far along our way:

We should not even try for perfection. It will only cause us sadness and heartache. We should also not expect the people around us to behave perfectly. We cannot hold people to a standard that we cannot reach, either.

We have also come to the realization that we are better off making mistakes. It will hurt—sometimes a lot—but it is how we learn and grow. It will give us resilience and the determination to try again. Additionally, if we did everything right all the time, we would never understand the need for compassion. You can only truly appreciate forgiveness when someone forgives you for a mistake you made or a wrong you committed against them. The words, “I forgive you,” can be a balm to the soul. However, you would never know the relief you feel, the guilt and grief that would otherwise be hanging over your head unless someone says it to you. Only then will you realize the value and power in those three little words.

Your life will not be without obstacles. Unfortunately, it is while trying to climb those obstacles that you will realize your inner strength. You don’t have to test something to know if it is strong, but it can be hard to believe what you are capable of until you actually have to rise to the occasion. The struggles we have in life also force us to change our way of thinking. Difficulties are challenges in disguise. You are forced out of your comfort zone. In order to solve problems, you need to think creatively to find a solution.

We have also learned that a way to strengthen character is by asking for and providing help. There are some amazing benefits. People naturally want to help, but often will not unless you ask. When you need help, ask for assistance from someone you love and trust. It will show them that you rely on them and they may be more willing to ask for your help when they need it in return. This will help you to learn faith in your fellow humankind as well as gratitude. Being thankful for what you have and the people around you is a great way to remind yourself of how blessed you are. It reinforces kindness, sharing, and empathy, all of which are excellent character-builders. Developing a support system will make life’s journey easier for you.

But the most important thing we have learned on our quest to become better people is to be patient. With ourselves as we go on this journey, with others who may not see things the same way we do, and the world at large. Standing tall as a good example will inspire others to do the same. It may not happen overnight, but be patient. This is a worthwhile endeavor, which means it will require work.