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What is Goodwill?

By Edited Sep 28, 2015 10 13

Luke 2:14 proclaims "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." So, exactly what is goodwill? Has the word's meaning been forgotten? Is it simply an American chain of thrift stores that sells used clothing, books and furniture? Is it only part of a movie title starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck?

Goodwill means so much in our daily lives as human beings. It is valuable for every person, company and institution. Goodwill, as it applies to business, means a good reputation. It cannot be earned by spending millions of dollars on marketing or by pronouncing itself in an advertising campaign.

Goodwill has to be earned by merit, by providing goods and services of value, and by being honest. A business that loses the goodwill of its customers has no future. Once it has been lost, goodwill is nearly impossible to regain, no matter how hard the business owner trys.

Goodwill is even more precious for an individual than for a company. There are two types of personal goodwill: the goodwill that is in our hearts and that we extend to others; and the goodwill others feel for us. To receive goodwill, we must give goodwill, because we reap what we sow.

We have to sow goodwill before we can reap goodwill. If we are bitter and full of hate, or if we are miserly, or if we make it a habit not to trust others, we will naturally sow these bitter seeds in the people around us. The world repays us what we invest into it. If the people in our lives do not always have goodwill toward us, we will not have happiness or peace of mind. We make our own bed and we must lie in it.

Many rich and powerful people have inspired incredible ill will in the lives of their associates. But we know intuitively that money and power, in and of themselves, can never produce happiness. Even the richest, most powerful people in the world secretly desire the love, respect and esteem of others. Without goodwill, all the money in the world means little or nothing.

During the Christmas holiday season, many of us naturally adopt a spirit of goodwill. I'm sure you've also heard it said that "it should be like Christmas all year long." What is this "it" that we speak of? Goodwill. Goodwill means smiling at those around us, helping a neighbor carry a heavy bag to her door, giving a friend an unexpected gift, or putting a dollar bill in a homeless man's hand. And of course, giving out goodwill means we attract goodwill. It is this great state of being that makes the winter holidays the happiest time of the year.

Goodwill is a blessing to those who give it and to those who receive it. It is a virtue worth practicing and cultivating, not simply at Christmas, but every month of the year. Exercising goodwill helps us to be successful with our family and friends, it helps us get along with our coworkers and succeed in business, and it allows us to have peace of mind.

What makes the Christmas season so full of joy? What makes everyone so friendly and considerate and generous at this time of the year? Goodwill. We radiate goodwill at Christmas. We feel unselfish. We want to show kindness to others. We are thoughtful. We are obeying Jesus' commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Peace on earth will come when goodwill has trumped ill will throughout the world, for the spirit of peace is the spirit of goodwill toward men. Goodwill is the key that can open not only the doors of personal success, but also the doors to peace on earth.



Dec 23, 2010 12:26am
Very nice thoughts ... and a great article to feature during the holiday season!
Dec 23, 2010 1:06am
good job
Dec 23, 2010 1:58am
What a thought provoking article. Thanks for writing it.
Dec 24, 2010 12:20am
lol hey JadeDragon. Fancy meeting you in cyberspace. I know you over on eHow, I'm lafincoff there. Good will to you.
Dec 23, 2010 3:07am
If positive or negative goodwill can inspire reciprocal positive or negative goodwill in others, a conundrum exists. If negative/positive will is radiated upon you and you respond with corresponding negative/positive will, what is free will? Are you a ghost in the machine, a cog?

As an example, use the starting point of a master-slave relationship. If the slave, heavily burdened, protests to the master, and the master beats the slave, is the slave at fault in generating a negative good-will cycle?

I understand and appreciate your article. It is well written and I enjoyed reading it. However, lets go a step further and explore the pre-existing historical social structures which frame the context of our social and emotional interactions. Is social justice a valid religion in the context of good will?

Merry Christmas.
Dec 23, 2010 3:09am
great feature article and thought provoking too.
Dec 23, 2010 8:16am
Well deserved feature article, Congratulations and Merry Christmas!
Dec 23, 2010 9:03am
Thanks for your comments, everyone. I thought it was timely and appropriate to examine the concept of goodwill. I have always been intrigued by the behavior change that occurs during Christmastime, and wonder if we can think about what goodwill is, why it is important, and how we can approach life in this manner more often.
Dec 23, 2010 9:46am
Merry Christmas to you too! I completely agree with you in that "we reap what we sow"

In my experience, in order to welcome into your heart what you think you lack you must give it to others first. Don't feel love in your life? Then give it to others first and you shall receive. Don't feel kindness? Then give it to others first and you shall receive.

If you are skeptical about this, I strongly urge you to give it a try! What have you got to loose?
Dec 23, 2010 10:04am
VERY GOOD article and beautifully written! It certainly deserves the feature spot! I think people who question the validity of good will need only to apply it in their daily lives to see it's effects, especially on those who could use a little more good in their lives. Next time you're in the store and you see someone trying to get something off of a high shelf, or they seem to be searching for something they can't find - help them! I think that good will, in it's most simple form can be incredibly powerful!
Dec 24, 2010 8:52am
Congratulations on a thought provoking front page article! I firmly believe that what comes around goes around. How hard is it to be nice to someone, like holding a door or saying thank you? Everyone, no matter how busy, has an hour or two each month to volunteer and help others in need. You get more than you give when you help others.
Feb 8, 2011 1:44pm
Great article a la "Pay it Forward". Congratulations on front page! Peace today, Venetia
Jul 5, 2012 12:29pm
Wow--thumbs way up for the above article--great insight, great writing, great teaching. You can et I'll be back for more!
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