What Makes a Good Life?

Some time ago now I came to realize that how we define particular words – success, happiness, love, etc – can have a major impact on the way in which we live our life. One term that I hear thrown around often is “good life”, eg “he lived a good life” . But what is a good life exactly? This term will mean different things to different people, and yet I believe there are some ingredients that all “good lives” share. Here are a some of these ingredients:

Being present in the moment

“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.” – Corita Kent

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

Gratefulness

“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast

Love

“Love doesn’t make the world go ’round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Franklin P. Jones

“Life is the flower for which love is the honey.” – Victor Hugo

A life lived for others

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Squeezing the most out of our time

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

“… we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.” – Paul Bowles

Living with purpose

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robert Byrne

Acceptance that life will bring sadness

“There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” – Carl Jung

Living without fear

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” – Dorothy Thompson

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Not taking life too seriously

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

Do you have a quote that you would like to share? Or perhaps even your own definition of what a “good life” is? Please share it in the comments below….

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.

12 Comments

  1. I love this definition of a “good life” through the use of quotes! A couple that I like from Ghandi –
    “You must be the change you want to see in the world”
    “Happiness is when what you think, whay you say, and what you do are in harmony”.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  2. Great quotes. Couple i like is:
    Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
    Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still.

    Reply
  3. These are some pretty nice quotes in the article. Since you asked, I’d like to throw one more in the mix. This was a quote from a very good friend of mine:

    “Don’t get so caught up with making a living that you forget to make a life.”

    Al at 7Ps last blog post..Work Smarter, Not Harder: The Min-Max Rule

    Reply
  4. Love these quotes and very inspiring on what makes a good life. A quote I’ve always loved is:

    “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” ~~ John Wayne

    Thanks for giving us food for thought on how to live a good life.

    Blessings,

    Pat Rs last blog post..The Little Things

    Reply
  5. Great post. I love your selection of quotes. To me a good life is one that enables you to live what you love. And I’m very grateful for people like Bob and Melinda Blanchard for providing a system such as the one in their book Changing Your Course, that is teaching me how to do just that.

    Reply
  6. Hi Peter,

    Another excellent article.
    To me,Good Life is doing what i love to do,being with family,helping others to realize their dreams.
    In your whole life,if you touch atleast some lives meaningfully,you have lived a Good life.

    Best wishes,
    Kannan Viswagandhi
    http://www.growing-self.blogspot.com

    Reply
  7. The cinic is a man, who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing… Oscar Wild

    Reply
  8. I would add one from the Harry Potter series that Professor Dumbledore said…

    “It is not our abilities that make us great; it is our choices.”

    Reply
  9. To me, good life is the life that we live after we fulfill most of our desires.

    Reply

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