Current read. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant.
His explanation of good will is the most eye opening thing I have ever read. I want to read these two paragraphs over and over. He says that intelligence, wit, courage, resoluteness, perseverance and all other qualities that may seem to be good and desirable traits can all be harmful without good will. Power, riches, honor, even well being and contentment with ones condition (happiness), can be negative if not for having a good motive or will. Good will constitutes being worthy of happiness, but doesn’t promise it.
The best part…. Good will is not good because of what it accomplishes. It is incomparably higher than anything, simply because it is good. It needs not accomplish anything. It simply needs to be.
So my translation. Good will, good intentions, and so on are of utmost importance. Say you have two people. One rich, healthy, happy, and with a good will and character. The other poor, sickly, unhappy, but also with good will and character. They are equal. Because their good will and character are what matters.
“If even the greatest effort should not avail it to achieve anything of its end, and if there remained only the good will… it would sparkle like a jewel all by itself, as something that had its full worth in itself.”
So no matter who you are, or where you are in life, be good. That’s it. Just be, and be good. Even happiness is trivial at times. For if you are good, happiness will come.