An Old Word You Will Absolutely Love to Have in Your Life Today

Bill Abbate

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Imagine possessing a quality that endears you to other people. Because of it, they see you as friendly, helpful, kind, and benevolent. They believe you are a good and decent person. Because of this quality, you develop a reputation and are valued by others. You become someone they hold in high regard, admire, and appreciate. Does such a quality exist?

You know the word well as the name of an organization and may hear it often. But the sense of its real meaning has been largely lost today. The word has been commercialized to the point that this more than $6 billion enterprise operates in practically every town. Unfortunately, the organization has hijacked the word in a sense. It now possesses little meaning to most people, other than a place to donate old and unused items so the company can resell them for a profit.

What is goodwill?

Yes, the word is goodwill—such a great word and one that is much needed today. The word has two complementary meanings; the second part can take on a business or personal meaning.

goodwill – noun: 1. friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude 2. the established reputation of a business regarded as a quantifiable asset, e.g., as represented by the excess of the price paid at a takeover for a company over its fair market value. – The Oxford Dictionary

We will steer clear of goodwill as a business term in the remainder of this article and only focus on its personal use.

Goodwill is a powerful word, and anyone that builds it in their life will benefit greatly. Many people have created incredible goodwill in their lives and continue to do so today.

Some of those in recent history to have built tremendous goodwill include such great humanitarians as Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi. While you don't have to be a famous humanitarian to earn the goodwill of others, it does help.

Some of the earliest examples of using the term goodwill occur in scripture nearly three millennia ago. The most well-known use of the word goes back 2,000 years to the time of Christ:

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:14 NKJV

Every year at Christmas, you will hear familiar words in the old song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day based on an old Longfellow poem:

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Goodwill in our lives

How can one go about building goodwill in their life? Goodwill only exists in relationships, and like building any relationship, it takes time. Without the passing of time, how can they get to know, understand, and trust you? Your aim should be to build goodwill in every relationship you value.

"Money, or even power, can never yield happiness unless it be accompanied by the goodwill of others." B. C. Forbes (1880-1954)

A few things you can do to build and earn goodwill include:

  • Being trustworthy
  • Maintaining a good and positive attitude whenever you are around others
  • Being kind and treating others fairly – always
  • Serving and lifting others up
  • Being respectful and mature
  • Developing a heart of joy, full of gratitude and appreciation for life and others
  • Knowing your purpose and living it out to the best of your ability
  • Not rushing into a relationship, allowing it to play out at its own pace

While these are only a few ways to build and earn the goodwill of others in life, you can add anything that creates or enhances a relationship in a good way.

"Show charity and goodwill to others and it will return to enhance your own life in many wonderful ways." Bryan Adams (1959-present)

Think about some of the people who have earned goodwill from you. Who are they? Your parents, spouse, children, good friends, boss, colleagues, or people you admire may qualify as a few.

Now think about those with whom you have earned goodwill. How have you been in your life, or what have you done to earn it from them? Take a few minutes to list some people with whom you have earned goodwill. For me, I am sure my wife, brother, and a few of my old friends have a good deal of goodwill for me, as I have for them. It is a beautiful thing, is it not!

Final thoughts

What is not to like about the word goodwill, often written as two words in the past? Don't you love how they come together with so much meaning?

How wonderful it is to have goodwill toward those you appreciate in life and for them to have goodwill toward you. Goodwill adds a great deal to any relationship and is something to strive for with anyone you care about greatly.

"Nothing that I can do or say will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice, I can help the greatest of all causes — good will among men and peace on earth." Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Can you imagine anyone not wanting to create the good that goodwill brings into life? Let's rescue and resuscitate this wonderful word. Let's make the word goodwill great again!

I leave you with wisdom from an old American author and humorist:

"Goodwill to others is constructive thought. It helps build you up. It is good for your body. It makes your blood purer, your muscles stronger, and your whole form more symmetrical in shape. It is the real elixir of life. The more such thought you attract to you, the more life you will have." Prentice Mulford (1834-1891)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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