When I was a child I would hear the adults refer to “the good life.” I didn’t think much about it because to me life was already good. I had parents who loved me, friends, school and hours and hours of play. Looking back, I am still convinced that what I had then was “the good life.” As I got a little older and heard the phrase, I assumed it meant a lot of money, a big house, a new car, fancy clothes and the ability to do whatever I wanted to do. Close, but no cigar.
I heard the phrase not too long ago and it caused me to stop and think about what it meant. Just what is “the good life?” Are happiness and the good life the same. I can’t answer that for everyone, but, for me I think it is the same.
I remember an email that I received some time ago (that I can’t find now) that told about a mother and daughter who always wished each other “enough.” I find a hint to what “the good life” means to me in that phrase – “I wish you enough.” Enough what? In my way of thinking, and I believe it is different for each of us, the good life for me would is having enough:
I don’t know whether to put pain and heartache on the list. I think they, like salt, are needed to flavor the good life with understanding, compassion and generosity. In my opinion they are needed to build character but for some they are more destructive than constructive so I’ll leave them off.
After I made the list I looked at it again. (I know this is not an exhaustive, all encompassing list. It is a list that simply works for me. And my lists have a way of changing over time as I’m sure they do for most list makers). This time I asked myself, which of these things can be left off the list and still allow me to have “the good life?” What can I do without and still be happy?
As I went through the list one item at a time, I discovered that I could leave everything off the list with the exception of three things:
1. Nourishment. Food and water are essential for existence. However, expensive “caviar and champagne” are not requisites of life or even “the good life” – nourishment is required and it doesn’t need to be gourmet for survival or for happiness.
2. Freedom. I wonder if I hadn’t known freedom all my life would I be keenly aware of its absence? If I didn’t know the greatness of freedom of both choice and action would I be able to be truly happy without it? I can’t answer that. I know that when I’ve been confined to bed or the house because of illness, my life felt cramped and limited. I hope I never need to discover the answer. For me the good life requires freedom.
3. Love. Love is the sine qua non of happiness or “the good life” for me. Without it nothing else satisfies and with it, nothing else really matters. Love is where “it’s at.” Love. Think about it.
There is one last thing. It is like the ribbon on the package that ties it all together. Appreciation. If I have “more than enough” of everything on my list but don’t appreciate any of it, I probably will never know “the good life.”
Nourishment, freedom and love are the big three for me. Add on appreciation and life becomes quite glorious.
I wish you “enough” and that includes appreciation of everything you have and are.
Have a great day. Have a good life.