For nearly 2,500 years philosophers have struggled to understand Plato’s meaning of the pure good, yet the great religious traditions of the world make clear that human beings innately know what is Good.
Essentially we are built with a moral compass and know what’s good—the difference between good and evil. We find fulfillment by discovering and acting in good ways according to our unique gifts. It’s interesting that when people finally make it to the top of their game, they yearn to find fulfillment by doing things that are good, establishing a foundation, donating time in a soup kitchen, holding their hand out to help those in need. Simple yet profound, a fourth grader in a Sunday School class told me many years ago when I asked what is good, he said “Good brings out the part of us that is made from god—God is in the word good!”
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview some of the most achieved people of our time. What I found fascinating was that most people never asked me what these notables said, but they ask if the person interviewed is good or nice: “Do you think he or she is really a good person?” That’s the right question, being a good person, in the end, is what matters most. The most important quality of life is that we add to the goodness of the world—spreading and expanding the blessings of the best life offers—a priceless gift.
Several years ago I came across the Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith that artfully counter jaded skeptics of human nature. I share these paradoxical ten commandments that guide practical direction of the power of good that ultimately inspires intrigrity, confidence, and direction for daily living:
The Paradoxical Commandments
- People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
- If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
- If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
- The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
- Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
- The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
- People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
- What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
- People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
- Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
@Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001
What is good about you? What do you judge as good in others? When you permit yourself the opportunity to participate in Good you sleep peacefully, breathe deeply, and live authentically.
John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D. is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of True Coming of Age: A Dynamic Process That Leads to Emotional Stability, Spiritual Growth, and Meaningful Relationships. For more information please visit www.drchirban.com andwww.sexualproblems.com.