It can be easy to forget that we, as individuals, possess an essential and omnipresent goodness. We don’t have to try to be good, we just are good. We don’t have to change, we just have to reconnect. This may be hard to believe, but trust me on this one.

Why do we so often forget that we are good? Maybe you’ve heard messages that you’re bad or you’re only good if you follow certain conditions: you must get all A’s, score a certain amount of goals, get a certain amount of “likes.” Maybe you’ve experienced physical or emotional abuse. Maybe you’ve been living with challenging mental health issues and it feels like you are the issue. Or maybe you suffer from loneliness and lack of connection. Regardless of the reasoning, many of us have to relearn to reconnect with that basic goodness and wholly identify with it.

So what is basic goodness and how do we know we are connecting with it? It can really differ from person to person, but for me I connect with my basic goodness when I am walking, running, or hiking and feel the warmth of the sun on my face, the tickle of a breeze on my skin, and the solid earth beneath my feet. Moments when I feel connected with friends, family, clients, students, teachers. Moments when I am doing something for the greater good; something as simple as composting or picking up trash along the road. In those moments I feel connected to something so much bigger than myself and the goings-on in my own life. Those moments are when I feel most alive.

Connection. Connection to others, to the planet, to spirit. When we are connected, really connected, not Facebook or Instagram connected, we see a reflection of ourselves in others and are able to take in the beauty that surrounds us. We are reminded that we are part of a whole.

When we are connected and we see ourselves reflected in others, and others reflected in ourselves, we are more likely to live on this earth with purpose, compassion, and peaceful intent. If we feel utterly disconnected, we won’t care as much about how we are treating ourselves, others or the planet. Either way, our actions live large and have an impact, probably bigger than we know or immediately see.

So one question to ponder is…what makes me feel connected and alive? If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, loneliness, and/or struggling with self-worth, you need to experience more of those alive moments. Therapy is a great place to begin to figure out what you need more of (or less of) and to receive the support you deserve.

Next step is to really notice what is happening during those alive and connected moments. Tune in, jot it down, share with a friend or therapist. Reconnecting with life and fully participating in it is essentially reconnecting with your basic goodness. It never goes away, it just needs extra curious, gentle, compassionate attention.

For more on basic goodness read Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa.