Graphic with quote to illustrate the essay Defining a good life

Defining the good life

What makes a good life?
Is it having food every day?
Is it a roof over our head?
Is it money in the bank account? How much?
Is it health? Having two legs to walk on and two hands to touch with?
Is it Love? Motherly love? Romantic love?

How many people can check every box on the aforementioned list but would still argue that theirs is not a good life?

Many have food every day. So much so they throw it away.
Many have big beautiful houses but complain of the cleaning and upkeep required.
Many have millions in the bank but hope that a billion will finally buy them happiness.
Many have a heart that pumps blood efficiently but holds no joy.
Many are loved, by their parents and their sisters, by their friends, by their spouse yet impervious to it because they don’t love themselves.

What makes a good life?
We do.
Not circumstances.
We do.
Not the people we know.
We do.
Not the things we own.
We do.

I have a good life.

I have a nice house in a nice little beach town on the island of Oahu.
It’s not big by American standards but to most people in the world, it would be a mansion.
It is old (built in 1964), with scratched wooden floors and walls so thin our curtain rod nail went all the way through and pokes into the hallway. All the cabinets are original, (another way to say outdated), stained and definitely not worthy of a spread in Better Homes and Gardens.
I don’t see that.
I only see the big windows and the light that pours in.
I see the humongous tree in our small yard and my lounge chair waiting for me to come enjoy the afternoon breeze.
I see two bathrooms and two toilets and I’m happy.
I love our house and I say it almost every day.

I have a nice husband, handsome, smart and kind.
If I really wanted to, I could find a few flaws but it’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to make such a list.
I’m content to look at him and know that he’ll do just about anything for me (except maybe keep his shirt drawer organized 🙂
I’m thankful to have met him and I’m sure glad he’s still around 20 years later.
I love my husband and say it almost every day.

I have a nice size bank account. I have more money than many and less than many more.
Am I rich? I would say so… but I measure my wealth by so much more than the size of my bank account.
As someone who has been hungry in this lifetime, I am aware of the privilege it is to eat three square meals a day.
As someone who has slept many a night in public parks and on rocky beaches (teenage drama), I do not take for granted the comfort of my soft bed and warm blanket.
As someone who was almost set on fire once by her own mother, I appreciate the serene sanctuary of my current family. I relish my husband’s devotion; I delight in my daughter’s tender affection.
I love my life and say it almost everyday.

A lot of people could have this very life and find it lacking. God knows I did for many years.

If I stopped being grateful, I would be miserable once more not because my circumstances would have ceased being favorable but because I would have become blind to the goodness around me.

What’s the use of eyes if they don’t see?
What’s the use of a voice if it speaks only harsh words?
What’s the use of arms if they never hug?
What’s the use of a heart if it doesn’t love?

What makes a good life and where do we find it?
We can stop looking out there and start searching within: good or bad, it’s up to us.

We can appreciate or demean.
We can criticize or praise.
We can love or hate.
We can demand or we can thank.
We can be good or bad…

…Life will follow our lead.


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