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What is Goodness?

What is good? I think that "good" might be the most ambiguous term in the English language. "Cute" and "nice" also battle for the top spot, but I still have to give it to "good" as the epitome of vague. When you type "good" into an online dictionary, 25 different definitions pop up. This is not the case, however, when you change the suffix and type in "goodness." That brings up only two definitions:

n 1: that which is good or valuable or useful: "weigh the good against the bad;" "among the highest goods of all are happiness and self-realization" [syn: good] [ant: bad, bad]
2: moral excellence or admirableness: "there is much good to be found in people" [syn: good] [ant: evil, evil]

As vague as "good" is, "goodness" is something we should all strive for. Goodness is the outward act of being a good person. It describes a person, but it is more than a trait because it is bigger than themselves.

What does that mean to us as individuals? It is easy to say, but can we do it? I know that personally I could pay more attention to being good, or to having more goodness. Sometimes all it takes is an extra 30 seconds. It doesn’t seem like it is that hard to do, or is it?

When we go through our days we are constantly pressed for time. I wrote an email to a friend the other day and at some point in the e-mail I was mentioned how busy I was, I guess because I felt sorry for myself or I was in the self-justifying type of mood. The exact line I wrote was that there were not enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the year, etc. This is one of the stupidest things that I have ever said. There are 24 hours in the day, 7 days in the week, 52 weeks in the year. At least that is the way it is today/this week/this year. Someone let me know if that changes, because I am one of those people who always forgets about Daylight Savings Time.

Time is what it is, and nothing you can do will change that. Sometimes I get so into myself that I forget there are other people around me. The most important thing is what I am doing. It is pretty easy to get caught up in yourself, especially if you are passionate about what you do. These things make every second seem like the most valuable second of your life. If you are not being productive with that second, then you are wasting time.

I am in complete agreement with the idea that time is of the essence. We should have priorities in our lives and assert ourselves to make them happen. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to tell if the thing you’re doing is a waste of time…or something that will eventually get you closer to your goals.

One day this week I arrived at the pool early in the morning. It was a balmy 40 degrees. In Maryland terms that is an ice age, but I am from Buffalo, so I had on sandals. I had just opened the door to the pool. I looked back and there was someone coming with a bag in one hand and a suit in the other. He was in that tweener stage of door holding. I could either let the door shut and he would get there in 15 seconds and have to open it himself. Or, I could hold the door for 15 seconds so that he could make it in. I decided to wait, and he was genuinely surprised and thankful.

Holding doors open won’t make me or anyone else a saint. But holding doors open is something that everyone should do. What is important is taking a little extra time. If I had let the door shut, then I would have saved myself a whole 15 seconds. But I would have missed a bigger opportunity to step outside myself and think about someone else. We can all take the extra 30 seconds without thinking of self. When you do this you will find that you aren’t wasting time at all. Extending yourself in the slightest has bigger rewards. Look for the smile, or really listen to the thanks. If there is none, then that person needs more goodness.

I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by goodness my whole life. My parents and sisters exude goodness. My co-workers are goodness. My friends participate in goodness. Now it is my responsibility to try and spread the goodness I have received.

This article is dedicated to the loving memory of Jody Spooner. Her smile and constant good nature are impossible to forget. She was one of those people who was completely selfless in her devotion to goodness. Her goodness changed every room she entered and every person whose life she touched. I was fortunate to have her positive energy shine on me at a young age. She will always be remembered.