“The irony of it all is that my happiness depends on having someone to share it with, someone to seek it with, someone to examine it with, someone to survive it with, someone with whom to share the heavy lifting of life, and someone with whom to celebrate its memories. Otherwise, we cannot possibly become everything we are meant to be, otherwise, our lives can never become as full as they are meant to be. There is no great happiness than can possibly be either achieved or delighted in alone. Other people are the key to our own happiness. To fail to realize and to develop that is to doom ourselves to half a life and only to a gray ghost of happiness.” ~ Joan Chittister page 108 of Happiness
Linda: We define goodwill as a stance in which one embodies a desire to enhance the well-being of another. It has to do with not only sending out one’s best wishes but of having a dedication to put those wishes into actions that are life-enhancing. A slow, gentle, patient, accepting, empathic, and compassionate atmosphere characterized the conversations with an obvious quality of respect.
This spirit manifests itself in a vast array of ways. There are obvious examples such as gently touching or caressing each other, respectfully listening without interrupting while the other person speaks, inviting each other’s input to the conversation, expressing appreciation of each other, and affirming our partner’s strengths and positive attributes.
There are also many subtle examples of offering goodwill to each other that are not literally observable, but unmistakably present in the quality of care, sensitivity, concern, and admiration. Couples exemplifying goodwill speak with details about what they most delight in each other. They demonstrate an eagerness to praise and affirm each other. They don’t simply proclaim their love for each other; they embody it through their way of being. It feels like a blessing to be in their presence.
Those who value connection, live with an awareness that their life is enhanced by being close to others. And then there are those who have a part of them that knows that they can never be completely autonomous, but still knock themselves out trying. Such an individualistic orientation to life is an attempt to avoid vulnerability and is accompanied by a belief that we are better off, not subject to hurt, disappointment and loss if we keep ourselves apart from others. “I’ll take care of myself, thank you very much,” is the statement that characterizes such a position. Those who are committed to such an extreme protective stance flies in the face of our basic core need to bond, feel, care, love, and be loved.
In the studies presented by the positive psychology researchers, the findings are consistent. Here are some of the findings that indicate the benefits of a connection characterized by goodwill. Be sure to add your own.
- When our mind is full of doubt and uncertainty, we have someone we trust to steady us with their clarity.
- When we are emotionally worn out, we can lean on our partner.
- When we feel weak, frail, and undeveloped, we can be inspired by their strengths to develop our own.
- Forming a committed partnership gives us a sense of security in difficult times and amplifies the celebration in times of success.
- Sharing tender attention connection, warmth, security, and fun are the components of a life well-lived.
Strong partnerships allow us to go through life with less stress and more ease. We get to know who we are. Bonding is essential in forming our identity through acquiring a positive self-image by being reflected in the mirror of the other. Connections with others and the growth that strong connections promote is the most important factor that moves us toward well-being.