The choice to be good

by Marcus Loane

19th Dec 2009


 I have chosen goodness as a principle to live my life by. Now why have I done this? I do not believe in anything supernatural and I do not follow any religion. I believe in the power of doing good and being good. I think goodness has real power to make a difference in the doer of good and the recipients of goodness. This is not some magic power although its effects may seem magical at times. I do not see goodness (or badness) as some supernatural ethereal force. Rather it is a set of behaviours, propensities, mental attributes, attitudes, tendencies and beliefs about how to think and how to act. Its effects are concrete and real in people’s behaviour and how they feel.

 Why goodness? I choose goodness because it feels better and makes other people feel better (usually). It makes life more pleasant. It is inherently rewarding. Goodness and positivity are closely related – there is much overlap between these domains. Goodness is not the only principle that I choose to live my life by but it is one of them.

 How do I know what is good? Goodness is a concept which has developed from various sources and has been adopted by many religions and legal systems. I wrote an article several years ago, on where the concept of goodness and morality comes from. Goodness at its simplest is about avoiding hurting and harming others. It is about valuing honesty and kindness and respect. It is about forgiving, and nurturing the positive qualities in yourself and others and not judging others harshly. It is about developing compassion. These attitudes and the behaviours they lead to can have real effects in the world and make (your little pocket of) it a better place to be. They also contribute to your own inner peace. Forgiveness for example will remove bitterness and anger. Compassion can prevent it in the first place. A random act of kindness which expects no reward will contribute to your happiness (psychological experiments have confirmed this). Goodness, like badness is a part of human nature and it can become an integral part of what keeps you happy.


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