Goodwill Hunting

I couple weeks ago, I went to a Goodwill store which is run by an organization that aims to improve the lives of people in the community. I donated items from my house and closet that had outlived their usefulness, and picked up a cute, newish dress for summer in their ‘gently used’ shop. How does Goodwill have any connections with the mind? Besides the concept of goodwill, which could either be a friendly feeling or the value of a reputation (both residing in the subconscious mind), there were a few steps in the process of my shopping trip that seemed to connect with the way we tend to think, feel and act.

Old Items, New Life?

The gently used clothes and homeware that’s available at Goodwill is evidence that not everyone belongs to a ‘throw-away society’, but is instead an example of reusability of items from our daily life. How many of us have something in our closet that may be too small, or too big, or something we wanted to work but didn’t? While we can keep it there, sometimes because we hope it will fit, or want a momento from the past, or just haven’t gotten around to do something with it, there are times when it can be of better use outside our personal space and system. With something that no longer has a place, donation to a worthy organization is a great way of letting go.

But what about thoughts, feelings and old patterns that also don’t fit? What do we do with them? Sometimes it’s less obvious when we have these lying around, not necessarily because they are working for us anymore, but because they are so familiar that they are our go-to expressions, our easiest ways of doing, thinking and feeling. Many times the most challenging part of letting go is realizing that what may be our most typical habits don’t have to be. That no matter where we are in life, no matter how long we have been holding on to something, we can make a change. And that when we let go of patterns that are holding us back, we are actually giving ourselves a new lease on life. You think space in the closet is good, just think about the mind!

Today is a different (shopping) day

One of the reasons I love to look around Goodwill is because it is an ever changing landscape, just like life. The only constant there is change. You can’t put anything on layaway at Goodwill. If you happen to see a treasure (which may have been someone else’s junk) you need to decide whether now is the time, because it may not be there tomorrow. I look at this as not a pressure tactic, but more like a treasure hunt. I go in with an easygoing attitude and without expectations that I will find ‘the perfect pink blouse’ or anything that specific. I might have in mind a top or bottom or plate or DVD that I’m interested in getting at some point in the near future, yet realize that it might not be today. I keep my expectations in check, allow myself to be open to explore and curious to discover, and accept the unexpected bonuses that happen every once in a while. How would that change your life if you approached it that way?

Without having preset ideas of how it was going to end? Of not knowing for certain if you’ll be the lucky one to fit into that perfect (for someone) leather jacket. They say that fortune favours the brave – and believe that our courage stems in part from our ability to keep showing up until something clicks for us to work with. Just because we didn’t find it here before, doesn’t mean we won’t find it here now or in the future. Just because we couldn’t do something, had a failed relationship, went off the diet before, doesn’t mean thing today or tomorrow. Any day is a new change day.

We’ll never know who has our stuff… tread lovingly

Another point that popped up for me is that I may never see that ice cream maker again… and that’s ok. But I extended that to the way we interact and deal with others when we ‘give’ away our feelings, conversations, opinions… Imagine for a moment, having a conversation with a young teen and making a comment on their pimply or spotty face, the gangliness, the low marks in biology, the lack of a girlfriend or boyfriend. We may be well meaning, or joking or don’t think much about it – because it was just that once – but that young person might absorb these criticisms (or perceived criticisms) as part of who they are (which is developing as they grow). Along the line, these roughly formed definitions of the mind tend to absorb more of the same comments, reinforcing the idea, so at some stage, they have defined or labeled themselves in a specific (and possibly not helpful) way.

Whenever we interact with others we are giving our stuff away, so just remember to give the good stuff. You’ve got so much of it, it doesn’t take away from you as you give it away. With positive words, thoughts and actions, you tend to get more. Even if you’ve goofed in this department (I am not one to judge, I’ve made loads of mistakes) realize that tomorrow you can give away your best again.

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