The Good Life is something we each define for ourselves. For some of us it is all about money and possessions. For some of us it is all about family and love ones. For some of us The Good Life is combinations of both.
Defining The Good Life
I have been thinking about this a lot lately as listening to messages that Spirit has been giving me. I have talked with clients who have come to me to strategize about their lives, to be empowered, to find inspiration. But what exactly is the good life? Is it yachts, caviar, leather couches and Seychelles vacations? Is it grandchildren, family dinners, a couples retreat by the lake or having a beautiful home? How do we define wellbeing beyond material standards of living? The good life can be thought to be culturally defined, and therefore one would say it is what it is — to you. It would be to state that while we all may want to live the good life, we differ widely on just what that entails.
I have also been talking about the good life with friends, and over an over it comes up that people really want to get on track with whatever they need to do to have that kind of life. People are tired of struggle. Here is what I have come to understand at this point in time and want to share with you:
Aristotle and The Good Life
The good life is a concept introduced by the philosopher Aristotle as “eudaimonia” (eu=good and daimon=spirit). It is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, the concept of wellbeing could be a more accurate translation. Eudaimonia is a central concept in Aristotelian ethics and political philosophy, along with the terms “aretē” (moral virtue). In Aristotle’s works, eudaimonia is (based on older Greek tradition) used as the term for the highest human good. It is the aim of practical philosophy, including ethics and political philosophy, to consider and experience it and its attainment.
Definitions of The Good Life, Classic and Modern
Aristotle agreed that people’s definitions of The Good Life varies. In his Nicomachean Ethics, (§21; 1095a15–22) Aristotle states that everyone agrees that eudaimonia is the highest good for human beings. There is, however, substantial disagreement on what sort of life counts as doing and living well; i.e. eudaimon:
Verbally there is a very general agreement; for both the general run of men and people of superior refinement say that it is [eudaimonia], and identify living well and faring well with being happy; but with regard to what [eudaimonia] is they differ, and the many do not give the same account as the wise. For the former think it is some plain and obvious thing like pleasure, wealth or honour…
Aristotle is stating here is that eudaimon life (The Good Life) is a life which is objectively desirable and not culturally defined. That, he believed, is not saying very much. People desire to be eudaimon; and everyone agrees that being eudaimon is related to living well and to an individual’s wellbeing. The difficult question is to ascertaining just what sort of activities enable one to live well, to have The Good Life.
The Good Life – Pleasure, Politics and Philosophy
So which category would you fall into? Aristotle further presents various popular ideals of the best lifestyles for human beings. The concepts he focuses on are (1) a life of pleasure, (2) a life of political activity and (3) a philosophical life.
Using the 4 Keys to The Good Life that I have outlined in the video, how would you create The Good Life for yourself? What would it look like if you incorporated those four keys into your life? Do you see the good life, the life you want to have, as just a life of pleasure, or a political life or one in which you in effect become a philosopher-teacher in some way?
Or is it s combination of the three?
At any rate, remember, creating and living the good life is an inside job and I will help you with the outside part!