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On Goodness

Goodness is the practice which illuminates what really matters.

I’ve been thinking a lot about goodness lately.

The goodness within us and around us. Where goodness exists, how it shows up, and even when it falls painfully short within us.

I was sitting in a coffee shop this afternoon and couldn’t help but overhear a loud conversation between two gentleman who were neither being gentle nor good. Their entire conversation heavily steeped in disrespect for women, cultures, and anyone not quite like them.

Directly across from their table, an entirely opposite conversation took place. Another two men were diving into conversation with mutual respect for the spoken differences they held in their beliefs, religions, and cultures. They asked questions with curiosity. They drew no conclusions but stayed present to the questions between them.

Two conversations. Two tables right next to each other. Worlds apart.

THE PRACTICE OF GOODNESS

These conversations reminded me of how goodness isn’t necessarily an easy practice for us humans. It asks of our courage, patience, and intention. Goodness is often considered ‘the slow route’ because it challenges us to be present rather than rushing through life mindlessly, fragmented, or with a feigned importance.

You’ve heard the common line about ‘becoming what we think’ or ‘becoming like the five people we spend the most time with in our days.’

Are you spending time with people who elevate your goodness?

Goodness is highly contagious; it ignites within us when we surround ourselves with deep goodness too. Goodness also expands most powerfully when we give it room to breathe by offering no expectation in return. Here are a few specific ways to practice goodness any day of the week:

  • At the stoplights of a busy intersection;
  • In the grocery store or post office lines;
  • Within the tone and words of our response when we’re in a hurry or unwell;
  • In the way we write our 37th email of the day;
  • By being present with another and ditching the multi-tasking;
  • When we lean toward someone in strife rather than offering passive words of encouragement from a distance;
  • When we choose grace under pressure and courage under fire

“Pure goodness feels like fun in the moment while warming our hearts long after the experience itself has burned out.

— The Courage Practice

PART TWO

WHO & WHAT FEELS GOOD?

Observing who and what feels good in our lives is also essential to practicing more goodness. Mull over these questions for a moment:

  • What just feels really good in my life? (Actions, habits, activities, you name it)
  • Who feels really good in my life? Who makes my soul smile?
  • How can I engage in more of what and who feels good in my life?
  • How can I myself practice goodness with greater intention?

STRESS & GOODNESS

When stress rises up in our lives, we can commonly push past the present goodness while foraging for future goodness. In such times, I commonly get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ or the expectations and don’t realize I’m mindlessly sifting away the goodness right in front of me.

  • Strategically planning for the future more than staying present to now, this moment
  • Engaging the questions with anxiety or worry rather than trust and release
  • Hustling for the attention of those who seldom reciprocate while neglecting those who deeply do
  • Using my introversion as an excuse for not engaging the kind stranger, looking people in the eye, or sharing my heart with someone I trust
  • Working extra hard while neglecting self-care and my inner well-being & development

Despite these tendencies, when choosing goodness in the face of challenge, joy expands in a tremendous way. Seeking out goodness—ways to give it and to receive it—when stress is high can actually be a powerful and transformative way through.

OUR HUMAN RESISTANCE TO GOODNESS

If goodness is so transformative why do we resist what actually feels good—in our health, habits, relationships, and careers? Why do we neglect that which serves us and who really sees us? Why do we hustle for goodness in places that fail to see our own?

We subconsciously resist goodness when we no longer remember the depth of our own inherent goodness. 

We commonly resist what and who actually feel good when we subconsciously do not believe we are worthy of such goodness. We choose the unhealthy option, the most convenient option. We choose the most accessible person, the manipulative person, or the person who is unable to be the mirror we need to become more ourselves.

When we don’t remember who we really are, we seek clarity externally. Without realizing it, we hope someone else might come along and tell us. We hustle for our goodness in places we will not find it. This feels more safe somehow.

We also give our goodness away to those who do not appreciate it simply because this is what we know to do. It is the muscle our mind knows best because sometime long ago, we believed our worth was born from outside of us and we had to earn it.

Here’s the best part, though. The patterns of our mind can be disrupted. We can choose differently. And there is no better time than the end of a year to leave old and useless patterns of thought and behavior behind.

COURAGE & GOODNESS

Looking our worth in the eye is damn hard. Embracing our goodness with open arms is damn hard too. Resistance to goodness is frequently found when we take what is before us because we don’t believe something else is possible. Courage, on the other hand, is the chosen practice and belief that we are inherently good as we are and are worthy of seeking and embracing the pure goodness we desire.

Here’s the tough part. Goodness is commonly underrated. It is often anti-climatic. It doesn’t always feel like the sexy choice. It oddly feels like home; even admittedly sometimes like a home we want to resist.

The lasting part? Goodness in practice will consistently remind us who we are and quietly push us to forever look inward for our worth. 

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