10 Steps to Access Your Goodness and Change Your Life

Man with Arms Up

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” ~Henry David Thoreau 

A few years ago I found myself on the floor of my apartment with a bottle of Jack Daniel's, feeling miserable.

In fact, I had felt that way for a while. My four-year relationship had collapsed, work was losing its meaning, and I felt deeply misunderstood, unloved, and lonely. Money was tight; I was overweight, lethargic, and confused; and my future seemed blurry.

But then, something changed.

I decided to shift my perspective and see what my life would be like if I stopped beating myself up over “not being good enough” and accepted who I was.

I made a decision that I am good and committed to testing this theory out. And it worked!

Since years of self-rejection didn't do much for me, I had nothing to lose. My decision to accept my own goodness transformed the way I saw and lived life. People were no longer threatening and challenges became opportunities.

For example, when I didn't get into the grad school of my choice, instead of thinking of myself as unworthy, I decided to view it as a sign that I was meant to do something slightly different. (Years later this proved to be true, and I am so glad that things did not pan out as expected.)

I also moved away from victimization to acceptance. I focused on taking care of myself. Instead of beating myself up over missed deadlines or unachieved goals, I intentionally paid attention to all that I did achieve every day.

I meditated and gave myself enough sleep, quality food, and exercise. I stopped watching a lot of TV and read more. I also expressed gratitude and shared company with people who enriched my life and reinforced my goodness.

Since then, my life has transformed and happiness has prevailed. As a result, I have become a better partner, friend, and leader, and a more thoughtful human being.

I also began wondering what the world would look like if we all had an opportunity to accept, embrace, and live out our own goodness. Can we all get there? The answer is a resounding yes! And here are some steps to do it.

1. Choose goodness.

Make a decision that you are fundamentally good, and commit to it. This sounds hard, especially if you spent most of your life feeing the opposite. Start by saying several times out loud “I am good.”

The voice inside your head may disagree, but remember: the voice you hear is not you; the being that hears the voice is you. So, quiet the voice by asking, “Why not?” Then, play a movie of your life and see if you can find a single example of your goodness.

Even if your emotions don't agree, use your intellect and then practice this exercise daily. Your emotions will catch up. Just like with building muscles, it takes time, but this exercise does work.

2. Understand goodness.

Being fundamentally good does not mean we won't make mistakes. I make plenty, all the time. Being good means that we deserve good things in life, and we deserve love. With self-love, anything is possible.

If you have a hard time with this, think of your younger, innocent self. Does that being deserve love? Or, think about yourself through the lens of someone who loves you. Why would they love you so if you weren’t worthy?

3. Practice, practice, practice.

Deciding that you are good is hard, but acting on that awareness is even harder. Commit to practice your goodness every single day. Catch yourself when you think negatively about yourself. Make a plan to get yourself out of unhealthy relationships or break bad habits. Treat yourself well, and demand that others do the same.

4. Develop rituals.

Take the time to journal, meditate, read inspirational books, pray, paint, volunteer, recite poetry, or regularly engage in any activity that will remind you and reinforce your goodness.

 5. Set up reminders.

Soon after I made my decision, I changed my license plates to read “I AM GOOD.” I knew I would see it at least twice a day and be reminded of my newfound truth. Even on those extraordinarily busy days when you miss your rituals, these small reminders will keep you on track.

 6. Talk to people.

Tell people about the concept of fundamental goodness. They will reaffirm its truth, or you will change their life too. In either case, the right people will support you in your quest for goodness.

 7. Live boldly.

Give generously, love unconditionally, laugh loudly, and communicate openly. Whatever you do, give it your all. Living in such a way will reinforce your goodness.

The paradox is that you cannot really live fully unless you believe in your own goodness. If you don’t believe in your fundamental goodness, you will constantly question your decisions, your worthiness, the quality of your contribution, and other people too.

You are also likely to live with a lot of anxiety, which will consume you from time to time.

By actually doing more of giving, loving, laughing, communicating, and so on, you will be reinforcing your own goodness and growing your belief in it.

8. Dream big and dare greatly.

When we focus on our struggles, we lose sight of the truly important things in life. On the other hand, when we dream big and dare greatly, we have no choice but to trust our goodness as we find ways to achieve our dreams and take risks.

Now, keep in mind that taking risks and daring greatly does not mean we pursue things that might gain us approval of others; it means we seek out those things that matter the most to us.

A lot of traditionally successful people are miserable and full of self-loathing. On the other hand, a lot of obscure people are fully content and accomplished. Dreaming big means we dream our own dreams, not those imposed by the society, our family, or someone else.

9. Stop questioning and get busy.

I love asking a “why” question. But don't ask a “why” that is harmful; ask a “why” that is helpful. Don't ask, “Why would I be good?” Ask, “Why wouldn't I be?” And if you can't stop questioning, make a decision and move on. Stop revisiting it.

We've been conditioned to doubt ourselves. Doubt something else, but not your goodness.

 10. Be mindful.

People often ask “How are you?” without waiting for a reply. Regardless, I love responding: “I am good!” It's not so much for their benefit as it is for my own. The more I repeat it, the more I believe in it.

Additionally, how I respond to this question is a good indicator of how I feel that day. My response gives me a chance to catch myself. If I say, “I'm okay” or “Not too bad,” that's a sign something isn't quite right and I need to evaluate what's really happening.

That said, being fundamentally good and accepting this goodness does not mean that we sometimes won’t feel bad, get annoyed or angry, or even lash out. Just today, I got into an argument with a good friend. We each said some hurtful things and I feel bad about it, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are both good.

Once upon a time, a Native American elder was telling his grandson a story of two wolves that live in each one of us and wage a daily struggle for dominance in our lives.

One wolf is filled with love, joy, hope, peace, gratitude, optimism, generosity, understanding, humility, kindness, truth, faith, and compassion. The other is a reflection of bitterness, envy, anger, sorrow, guilt, greed, arrogance, self-pity, inferiority, lies, ego, selfishness, and judgment.

Their struggle is constant, their determination to win unwavering.

“So, which wolf wins?” asked the grandson.

The grandfather responded, “The one you feed.”

We all have a choice to accept our own goodness and nurture it every day. We can all embrace the best within us and choose happiness over sadness. Which wolf will you feed today?

Joyous man image via Shutterstock

About Adi Redzic

Adi Redzic is a social entrepreneur, personal coach, author, and a motivational speaker. He’s also the Executive Director of, a national think tank on financial security of the Millennial generation. For strategies on changing your life, check out Adi’s new book Own It: A Practical Guide to Defying the Odds and Claiming Your Life or sign up for his weekly blog.

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  • says, “the One YOU Feed, INDEED! I’m GOOD with ALL that, Adi! Well said!”

  • Peace Within

    This is so true! When I applied this way of thinking to my life, it completely changed. Also, I love the Native American story! =)

  • anne

    oh this made me happy to read today!!! such wonderful affirmation! yay!

  • Hi Adi. Thanks for the post which is filled with goodness. Your story from victimization to acceptance is very uplifting. I also feel that we must look at the brighter side of the life
    Life is all about accepting good things without concentrating on the negative thoughts. As you said, we need to choose, understand and practice goodness.

    I can really connect with your point. Earlier I used to think about others. As a result, I started living a dual life. Now, I do things in a bold manner by keeping aside all the confusions.
    I love to meditate and it’s a lovely feeling. Everyone should take out some time for meditation.

  • Janice Allen

    Extremely helpful. Thank you.

  • Sabina Jespersen

    thank you so much… this was just what i needed to hear today.

  • Thank you, Michael!

  • I’m so glad you liked it, Peace Within! It’s all about changing how we think–and that Native American story really resonated with me, too, the first time I heard it.

  • Thank you, Anne! I am thrilled to hear that! Hope you are having a wonderful day!

  • Hi Yatin, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being vulnerable about your experiences with living a dual life. I feel this to be one of the biggest traps we fall into, and negativity is certainly a conduit to it. The truth is, it is much easier to be negative than positive, given our surroundings. That said, the benefit of the latter is much, much greater and I am so happy to hear that’s where your focus is. Keep on looking at the goodness and let me know if I can help in any way.

  • I’m glad and you’re very welcome. Thank YOU for reading.

  • saba

    Awesome. I’m happy I started my day reading this.
    Thank you Adi!

  • I’m glad you did, Sabina! Thank you for reading and sharing 🙂

  • You’re very welcome, Sabina! It makes me happy that it is exactly what you needed! 🙂

  • Kelli

    This is good and I am good and that feels good to say. Thank you

  • Testing the theory that you are good enough. Gather the
    evidence. That’s a HUGE step in treating yourself well! Thanks so much for the
    insight. And for the tip on how to respond to “How are you?” Love it!

  • Yes, you ARE good, Kelli! 🙂

  • You’re very welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And…I AM good. How are you? 😉

  • Beth Gallagher

    Thank you for this! It was the perfect day for me to read and receive this, and my new life begins this morning! 🙂

  • Archie Manley

    Great message of goodness, and hope for anyone who wants positive change, and a life of purpose, and meaning.

  • Sandy Massone

    I love #8 – dare big and dream greatly. Everytime I have followed the things that mean the most to me, they always seem to turn out better than I can imagine. There’s something in taking that leap of faith that spurs the Universe into action to support your dreams and your success. Great post!

  • I’m thrilled to hear that, and congratulations on your new life! Let me know if I can help in any way as you embark upon your journey through goodness.

  • Thank you!

  • Thank you, Sandy! There’s an old saying “When we truly want something, the entire universe conspires to help us.” 🙂

  • linacostaa


  • I can relate to this – thank you for sharing. Especially the stop questioning part!

  • I’m still here


  • I’m still here

    Whom is God?

  • Tania Yardley

    Thanks Adi, I really like this. We’re all basically good but it’s easy to forget that. Thank you 🙂

  • Andrew Clint Stees

    I truly apreciate your article. It has given me inspiration! For me it is so easy to get into the trap of not feeling good or good enough. The trap is so conditioned and strong from many years of development. Tuneing into my truth with persistence and commitment is needed for me to really emerge. I feel Inspired to commit more to my practice. Thanks again.

  • Donna

    Thank you so much. Good advice here. I’ve been really loyal to my misery for some time and am trying to overcome those traps and letting life’s demands make me feel small.

  • You’re very welcome. The “stop questioning” is HUGE and so important…unfortunately, most of us do it more often than we should.

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • I’m thrilled that my write up inspired you to work on shining your own light and emerging fully… don’t feel bad when you fall into the trap, just remember to get out of it as soon as possible. Our world suggests daily that we aren’t good enough…so it is a constant battle. But a worthwhile one for sure!

  • I love this expression “loyal to my misery” and may use it in one of my blog posts. It is so easy to maintain this loyalty because it is familiar, it is safe. But the price is too high. Hope you can fight off the temptation and recognize your own goodness instead. Let me know if I can help with your journey.

  • Danii Turnbull

    Your point on it being ok to make mistakes is so important. So often we beat ourselves up over minor so called mistakes and stop on our path to our goals as a result of this. Mistakes are a wonderful source of feedback, they tell us that we may be slightly off track and need to change direction. They are simply a sign to get back on the right road, not a stop sign.

  • You’re absolutely correct! Sadly, we’re conditioned to think that mistakes are somehow bad … how else will we learn? Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Guest

    . ,,,, View It Here…

  • Harry

    Really enjoyed this article at a much needed time, thank you!

  • You’re very welcome! I’m glad it was helpful!

  • Shanker

    Hi Adi,

    I see you’re employing ‘ Will ‘ rather than the ‘Truth’ for Change. That didn’t work for me.
    I believe that more I see the ‘Truth’ of things, less the need for ‘Will’. Only realization of truth can make permanent changes. Yet, I like the story at end. It makes a lot of sense to me!

  • Hi Shanker, sorry for the late reply – your comment didn’t show up at first.

    I think you are absolutely correct in recognizing the truth of things–the very core one is the truth about our fundamental and unequivocal goodness. Where “will” comes into play is in seeing and pursuing that truth. It takes a lot of courage to see the truth of our goodness, especially if we never saw it before, and to live it our daily. Which is why making the decision is critical. And to make that decision, we do need some willpower.

    In either case, I’m just thrilled that you have found your own way to truth and to goodness — congratulations! And thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • vivian0942


  • Satish

    The story of the two wolves is great. It is so real.