The Good LIfe in Three Steps
How does a person live a Good life? This is a fundamental question that is often overlooked. There is, and never will be, a definitive answer. But its still worth trying to figure out all the same. Developing a philosophy for a Good life is like trying to build a perfect ship. No vessel is completely invincible to rocks or storms, but you can still build a strong ship, especially if you have a model to base it on. No sage has ever lived a perfectly Good life, but those who had a model of the Good life are the ones that got the closest.
Today I propose my own philosophy for the Good life. If you care to read on keep in mind it is a work in perpetual progress, and more importantly, remember that it’s only a model.
My model for the Good life is fairly simple, as it requires only three things.
First, in order to lead a Good life a person must be courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather doing what is necessary in spite of it. A person who is never afraid is hardly a person at all, as far as I’m concerned. People who allow their fear to control them never achieve their destiny. It is no Good to be a coward, so those seeking to lead a good life must do something courageous every day.
It doesn’t matter what the act of courage is. It could be as great as jumping out of an airplane, or as trivial as talking to a stranger. As long as you stand up to something that scares you, then you are demonstrating courage. This is one step toward leading a Good life.
A coward cannot lead a Good life, and neither can an ignoramus. It doesn’t matter how smart or stupid you are, if you want to lead a Good life, then the second thing you must do is learn something new every day. For those who know nothing, this is easy. For those who believe they know everything, learning can prove to be quite difficult.
There is always more to know. Even the smartest person in the world can learn a new route home from work. Even the stupidest individual on the planet can go somewhere he has never been before. When a person makes an effort to learn something new every day then their world will expand, and their life can be Good.
All of our lives are our own, but they are also tied to the lives of the people around us. Other people are the worst, but dealing with other people is part of life. You can’t just separate yourself from the rest of the species for the sake of your own tranquility. Well, you could. Plenty of people do, in their own ways. Alas, Good cannot be done in exile.
Third: If you truly want to lead a Good life, not just a life that is comfortable or long, then you should do something kind every day.
This doesn’t mean only saints can lead Good lives. Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it means forgiving the people who step on you. Even bullies appreciate forgiveness. Maybe kindness means simply not stepping on an ant, even though you could. Organizing a complex, global system to feed the hungry is kind, but so is holding the door open for an old lady.
Not everyone aspires to lead a Good life. The rewards for living such a life are not easily seen, if they exist at all. For those who want more than breathing, eating, and maybe procreating out of life, I recommend asking three questions at the end of every day.
What did I do that was courageous?
What did I learn that was new?
What did I do that was kind?
If you do just one of these things every day then you are doing OK. If you do two of them, then you are Good. And if you achieve all three, then you are a paragon of excellence. For that day.
If you want to lead a Good life, then you should wake up every day and strive for excellence.