“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” – Henry David Thoreau
We live in a day and age where negative news runs rampant across the airwaves of social media. A good and nice story, unfortunately is not always enticing to the ears. As much as we may complain about the prevalent violence and depravity that exist within our world, it still has a way of attracting millions of listeners and readers week after week and day after day. So what are we to do, simply listen, take it in and become victims to a depraved society that is constantly inundated with bad and sad stories? My prayer and hope is that we do not. My prayer and hope is that we decide for ourselves to create our own news, our own good news. Not only do we have the power and technology, but deep down we know it has a way of touching our hearts and souls in way that nothing else can. The key is taking the time to recognize when it is actually occurring in our own lives or communities and to share it. Society has certainly become numb to negative news and often ignores the good things occurring around the world. If we’re not careful we could easily buy-in to the fact that nothing good is going on around us and people have generally lost their desire to appreciate simple kindness and goodness.
So where do we begin and where is all this goodness hiding if it really does exist? More often than not, it lies within the simple things we see and do daily, but often we miss it due to becoming insensitive. Our ability to truly recognize and embrace what is good is sadly drowning in a sea of misery, depression, hopelessness and unresolved anger. Sometimes it’s those grandiose things that we long to see, and unfortunately during these times we miss the simple gestures that have the potential to change lives and hearts.
In a world that is often cold and seemingly full of harshness, we need to be reminded that goodness does still exist. Here are a few things that I recall when I’m in doubt or am losing sight.
1. Looking at life through the eyes of a child – I have three children, ages 17, 14 & 10. They each have their own personalities and never cease to amaze me with how they view the world, but it’s my ten-year old that probably helps me the most. I’m sure it is the fact that she is still innocent to much of the world’s hardness and pain, but she nonetheless helps me immensely. There is something to living a life that is almost carefree, where the night’s slumber is authentically peaceful and the days are predominantly filled with new exploration. I love the curiosity and questions that come with each day. She helps me to pause when life is moving too fast, especially during those times when things are going crazy and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Her perspective often reminds me of the perspective that I need to maintain during duress. Mastering this disposition is obviously easier said than done, but I am grateful for my children and the many children of the world that give us glimpses of what being happy really looks like.
2. Reflecting on the joys of a relationship – Lord knows that I have had my share of relationships, some good, some not so good. One thing that is true in them all is what I have learned and what continues to help me to this day when I allow myself the time to reflect on them. Whether romantic or platonic, I can pull good things from them all and recognize how each have helped me to grow and work on myself more effectively. Many times it was the conflict and disappointments that helped me to gain actual clarity and make progress when I was seemingly stuck. Obviously this does not necessarily occur immediately or not until years later possibly, but when it does, there is much to learn that can translate into goodness for a better future. If ninety percent of the relationship was negative, try to focus on the ten percent that wasn’t. Ask yourself, what made it good and were those attributes a part of who I was or am today, why or why not?
3. Scheduling in Moments of Silence and Solitude – No matter how hectic life becomes, we all need quiet time and solace. For me there is something about the ocean that is serene and tranquil. I have found myself many of days at the ocean with a blanket taking a nap or a few hours. Any stress I had prior was gone. During this time of silence and solitude, I am still with my thoughts and actions, and it is a time that I have my best thoughts and God is able to speak to me in ways that I can actually hear what He is saying to me. I am also able to tune out the noise in my head and allowing myself to come to a place of peace. Allowing peace to have full reign is critical because then I am able to think on those good things occurring in my life versus the current trouble I might be facing. Again, it’s all about perspective, but until we have the correct perspective we will continually miss the boat and lose sight of the relevance.
There are obviously countless areas that I am sure you can recall that allow you to see goodness in your own life. My three are mine, so make it a point to take the time to recognize and put into practice your own ways to embrace the goodness in your life. Whether large or small, the ability to see goodness and acknowledge that it was and is present is critically important to living a full life. When we fail to see it will most assuredly signify the day we begin to lose hope and walk through life with a jaded outlook. As I reflect on the many acts of violence and negative news that encompasses the world, one thing that is common with the individuals that commit these acts is their state of mind. Whether they were mentally challenged, full of rage and anger, along their life journey, I wonder how many times they were exposed to goodness that gave them a purpose and a reason to live beyond the circumstances they were under. Perhaps we will never know the answers to this question, but let us start with you and I and help to bring some joy into the world by first bringing some into our own personal lives and communities.