Value Your Goodness
Your core values are the bedrock from which sprout your thoughts, actions, and reactions. They are the markings on your moral compass that identify whether a thought or an act aligns with your values or is astray. Core values for your life give you bearings.
Goodness is the single, all-encompassing, foundational core value of LRN LAF LUV LIV for LYF. Goodness has a quality that infuses your life’s actions with outcomes that are truly valuable and elevating.
Goodness is the necessary ingredient for any other value to have merit; a value without goodness as its underpinning will stray you from the way of experiencing an elevated life. The value of honesty is not the best policy when absent goodness—honesty can turn brutal or careless. The values of commitment, competence, and courage sound good, but without goodness can be used for harm and hatred. All other values lose their moral standing when not bathed in goodness.
The fingerprints of goodness are all over LRN LAF LUV LIV for LYF. Goodness is embodied and imbued in your life’s strategy, your life’s mission, and your life’s vision. It is mandatory for an elevated life. It is front and center in the philosophy’s platinum rule:
Do goodness always, to yourself and others.
But what is goodness? How does one define it? Your goodness is expressed by acting and responding in ways that are good for you and good for others such that it can draw out the better sides (the goodness) in everyone. Everything you do in life expresses your goodness or detracts from it. Goodness—as a core value—should be your norm on how you think, act, and respond.
Opening doors for others to help them through, smiling when you greet someone, sending a nice message to someone to uplift his or her spirits—these are examples of actions embodying goodness.
Responding to someone’s negativity in a way that diffuses the tension, saying you are sorry when you have hurt someone’s feelings, saying thank you and please to show their actions are appreciated—these are examples of responses embodying goodness.
Finding inspiration in the goodness of others, wanting to better yourself, analyzing alternatives and making decisions based on your core values—these are examples of thoughts that embody goodness.
These examples may seem small. But pebbles of goodness cast positive ripples that can stretch far and wide as good deeds are duplicated and multiplied. Your simple smile uplifts the spirits of someone who carries that forward to the next person he or she encounters. A returned smile energizes you further which is carried to your next encounter and smile. Goodness is exhibited in many ways and many sizes.
Goodness is constructive—it creates value rather than destroys value. Goodness is positive—it generates energy rather than saps energy. Goodness is beneficial—it helps the self and others rather than self-mutilates and maims.
Goodness is not a rigid set of rights and wrongs, and it is not a set of impossibilities. Goodness is situational and sensible. It is said that the Chinese teacher Confucius did not define goodness for his disciples for he believed that they would feel it and recognize it as they practiced it in different situations, and from those feelings and recognitions they could develop their own goodness further.
Many variations of the “golden rule” have been taught, shared, and preached for over two dozen centuries in various cultures. While not definitions of goodness per se, these can serve as directional statements to help foster a recognition of and provide guidance toward goodness. “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others” allows one to mentally feel what it would be like and avoid actions contrary to goodness. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” allows one to identify possible actions that may have goodness associated with them. These statements are helpful as one practices doing deeds of goodness and works toward embodying goodness as a habit in every thought and action.
One knows he or she is living with goodness when the outcomes of daily actions grow true wealth in yourself, give true worth to others, and provide moments of personal and divine elevations. Goodness is universal and has always been the right path throughout the centuries. Even in sixth century BCE the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote:
“Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained.”
In more modern times, in the 1700’s, Benjamin Franklin would begin his day asking himself, “What good shall I do this day?” and end his day with, “What good have I done today?”
One may ask: If goodness is such a good way of living, why don’t we live it? And even if it is a good way of living, is it humanly possible to act always with goodness? “Why don’t we live it” presupposes that deeds of goodness are not performed. But there are innumerable deeds of goodness performed every day. A parent feeding their child, a goodnight kiss to a spouse, a smile to the neighbor, a good word to a friend. The point is taken, though, that people do bad things. That ill gossip or a bad word about someone slips from the tongue, that anger and frustration is expressed in the home, that jealousy initiates untoward behavior at a colleague. Why is this? Goodness takes more effort than apathy or evil.
As stated in Dhammapada, XII:163:
“Bad deeds, and deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what is beneficial and good, that is very difficult to do.”
Expressing goodness is sometimes misinterpreted as weakness and acquiescing. Goodness, however, is not passive or apathetic. It requires a belief and a resilience that are quite strong. Nonviolent civil disobedience acts of goodness are powerful. Goodness does not mean that you capitulate to an abuser or oppressor.