Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. Marcus Aurelius
What is a good life?
When we usually speak about a good chair, a good meal, a good computer, a good car, a good house, a good coat etc. we mean stuff that are in good shape and meet the purpose for which they were created. But when we speak about a good life, opinions differ very much (in fact, they differ even when we speak about a good husband or a good wife ;): for some it may mean being happy, for others being famous or rich (or both, usually these two come in pack), or it is to fulfill all the good pleasures, having success, finding true love, doing what you love to do, you name it.
There is no doubt that the quality of our lives is largely determined by the quality of our feelings and emotions. A lot of researches showed that our relationships, behaviors, perception of reality, even our health are fundamentally influenced by our emotional state. In other words, positive feelings and emotions would bring about a sense of a good life, and negative feelings and emotions will determined what we call a bad life. In order to significantly decrease the level of stress and frustration in our lives, we usually engage in some pleasant activities which we expect to help us to balance the negative emotions with the positive ones. The more pleasant activities the more fulfilled we are.
Aristotle theory of a good life
Aristotle was very preoccupied about good life and he made an important point regarding this subject. For him, a good life is one full of all good things both for the body and for the soul. That means, having a good health, enough possessions to enjoy a good living, love, friendship, honor, virtues, happiness. He acknowledged that good luck plays an important role, because he considered that women, slaves and the lower classes of his time could not enjoy a good life due to their condition. And that was a bad luck in his opinion.
Being born a slave in ancient time was a permanent condition, one could not rescue himself from that. Also, good life depended much on being born in a relatively wealthy family or being in a good health, which not always was possible. Before our era, there were no doctors, no hospitals, no vaccination, no medical insurance, no medicines, no….no….no… . One could die because of a common flu or a small wound caused by a rusty metal.
Christian theory about what a good life means
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Apostle Paul
When Jesus Christ came on this earth as Son of God, he has raised the standard of a well-lived life, focusing not only on the 10 commandments, but on the positive emotional aspect of life, more specifically about love. Loving God, loving your neighbors, loving your friends, loving your enemies, loving your family, loving all human beings. Love is the cornerstone of a good Christian life. Without love, nothing of what a man does has value.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Apostle Paul
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Apostle Peter
Good life, today
Today, we cannot fully rely on Aristotle’s theory of good life, things radically changed (at least for a large part of the world) and having a good life is more in our hands. We don’t depend on external factors to the same extent that they depended that time. People born in poor families have more opportunities to overcome that condition and nobody is born slave. Women have not any restrictions today to living a good life. And there are remedies for many diseases and we can take care of our health more than ever in the history of mankind.
On the other hand, the Christian perspective about the meaning of good life is still actual today. Many believers in God live by the same golden rule and feel that their life is good.
But along with that, there are many other concepts about living a good life. Practically, every person who meditates on her life can reach a personal definition of a good life, depending on her values, goals, principles and what matter most for her.
We are blessed to live in a time when we have the freedom to choose how to live and what we want out of life.
What means a good life for me
In a nutshell: the liberty to do what I want when I want, to love and to be loved, financial independence and freedom of speech. Do I really ask much from life?!
What about you?
What means a good life for you?
P.S. If you want to read more on the subject, I recommend the book The Good Life, based on the idea that the best goal in life anyone can have is to love and be loved. I just love the idea. The author, Dr. Matthew Ferrara, is a forensic and clinical psychologist, with a three decades professional experience.
P.P.S. I love you all!