When talking about somebody that has passed away, we often hear the comment ‘they had a good life well lived’. This has led me to question what exactly is ‘a good life well lived’?
And for those of us that are still alive and well (with hopefully many years in front of us), what can we do to make sure that we are leading a good life and living it well?
For thousands of years philosophers have pondered and shared their views on what a ‘good life’ means to them.
For some, living a good life means to be a person with ‘good values’. To be honest, trustworthy, kind, helpful, loyal, generous, courageous etc. These people devote their time and energy to helping others through their work, voluntary activities or by helping family and friends.
Another interpretation of a ‘good life’ is a life of pleasure and fun, spending time on things that make us feel ‘happy’ and enjoying the ‘finer things in life’.
A ‘good life’ may also be considered a meaningful life, prioritising contribution to others and dedication to a cause.
For those in the UK, ‘the Good Life’ may conjure up memories of the 1970s sitcom starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal, a middle aged suburban couple who attempt to escape modern commercial living by ‘becoming totally self-sufficient’. Even brewing their own wine……
For me, a ‘good life’ is a combination of all of the above and yet more still.
I have outlined my ‘Good Life Well Lived Manifesto’ as a cornerstone for how I want to lead my own life.
I am sharing with you so that you can take inspiration from it and perhaps use as a foundation for creating your own Good Life Well Lived Manifesto.
My Manifesto will not be the same as your Manifesto. That’s OK. We’re all different.
But feel free to pinch the bits that resonate and add in the bits that make your Manifesto unique to YOU.
The Good Life Well Lived Manifesto
You can downloaded a copy of The Good Life Well Lived Manifesto. No need to enter email details, just click on The Good Life Well Lived Manifesto and it is yours.
1. You Have Choices
You have choices. I want you to read that again and let it sink in.
You have choices.
Understanding and embracing that there are choices available to you is a powerful realisation.
No matter what situation you are in, how stuck you feel or what life throws at you, there are always choices and you have the power to make the best choice for you.
The choice you make today might not be the same choice you would have made 5 years ago, and it might not be the same choice you will make in 5 years time, but it is right for you today.
2. Be Guided By Your True North
If you think back to geography lessons from school, you may remember that True North and Magnetic North are two completely different things.
If you look at a compass and it is pointing North it is, in fact, pointing to Magnetic North. Magnetic North moves around due to changes in the planet’s molten core. Currently Magnetic North is located in in the Baffin Island region of Canada and moves roughly 25 miles every year.
On the other hand True North is a fixed point on the earth. The Earth rotates on the geographic north and south poles. The geographic north and south poles are where lines of longitude, known as meridians, converge in the north.
To find true north from a magnetic compass you have to know the local magnetic variation and how it is varying over time.
To lead a ‘good life well lived’, it is important to find your own personal true north. Your fixed point in a world that is constantly evolving, changing and moving.
Your True North is derived from your deeply held beliefs, values and principles. It is your own internal compass and it is unique to you.
In life’s journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going and what is the right path for us personally.
True North however is your own personal point of orientation. In this world of distraction it can be very easy to be influenced by ‘what everybody else is up to’ but if you want to have a good life well lived, you need to be true to you and only you.
3. Do The Work, Every Single Day
Once you have figured out what you want from your one ‘wild and precious life’ then you need to do the work to make it happen. Every Single Day.
Some days you will find great joy in that work and it will make you feel alive and purposeful.
And some days doing the work will not be fun. Sometimes it will be excruciatingly difficult and uncomfortable.
But if creating this good life and living it well is important to you, then doing the work is necessary.
In fact it’s not just necessary, it’s vital.
4. Don’t Underestimate What You Can Achieve
As human beings we have a tendency to wildly overestimate what we can achieve in one day but dramatically underestimate what we can achieve in one year.
Know where you are headed and then do the work every single day to get you there and you will achieve great things.
Every small action that you take in the right direction is moving you forward. I call it the 1% nudge. Realistically we won’t get from A to B in one go.
But every step forward is a nudge in the right direction.
Even if it only moves us forward by 1% or 0.1% it’s still a nudge and it all adds up.
These little nudges that you make will have a ripple effect. Once others see what you are doing, they too might be inclined to join in. Very soon these nudges and ripples will add up to create a movement.
5. You Are Not as Important as You Think Yet You Are Yet You are More Important Than You Can Possibly Imagine
Do you find yourself not taking action because you are worried about what ‘they’ will think?
I shall let you in on a secret. You are really not as important as you think you are! ‘They’ are too busy wrapped up in their own personal insecurities that they don’t have time to worry about what you are doing.
Whether you do or you don’t doesn’t really matter to them. They will carry on leading their life and you….
Well you may well have missed out on doing something that really matters to you because you are too busy worrying about what others will think.
There is a flip side to this.
To your inner circle – you husband, wife, partner, mother, father, brother, sister, children, close friends and allies – you matter. More than you can possibly imagine.
Channel your energy into nurturing these relationships that support you. Make time for them. Let them know how important they are to you and remember how important you are to them.
6. Be Open to the Twists and Turns of Life
Even once you have identified your True North and figured out your plan of action to keep you aligned to what you truly want, you will wander off the path.
Life is full of twists and turns, some of them you can control and some of them you can’t. Be open to what comes your way, embrace it and learn from it.
7. You Will Make Mistakes
Nobody likes to make mistakes.
It is uncomfortable and embarrassing. But it’s necessary.
If you don’t make mistakes you will never progress, never learn anything new and potentially never do the work that really matters to you.
Do the things that feel uncomfortable, do them to the best of your ability.
If it goes well. Hooray! Celebrate.
If it doesn’t and you make a mistake…. So what? It happens. Learn from it and move on.
8. Enjoy the Journey
The journey that I refer to in these circumstances is ‘The Dash‘. The time spent in between the date you arrive on this earth and the date that your body ceases to work and give you a vessel from which to explore the great adventure of life.
We all have a limited time to be alive. Enjoy it and embrace the seasons that you will travel through on this journey.
There’s the ‘figuring it all out’ season, the ‘work hard play hard’ season, the ‘caring for a young family’ season, the ‘caring for older relatives’ season, the ‘I can do whatever I want’ season, the ‘time to take things slow season’ and many, many more.
Accept the season that you are in, don’t fight against it, there’s probably little, if nothing that you can do to change it.
Enjoy the good times and appreciate the lessons that you learn from the more difficult times. Every day is an adventure, if you choose to see it that way.
9. Pick Yourself Back Up When Things Go Wrong
At some point, in some aspect of your life, things will go wrong. It is inevitable. The most important thing is how you respond in these situations.
Don’t let it defeat you. Feel the pain, recognise the learning, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and take the next step.
It doesn’t need to be a big next step. Remember it just needs to be a 1% nudge.
10. You Will Get Frustrated
Frustration is inevitable. Either frustration with yourself because you are not moving or ‘achieving’ fast enough. Or frustration with other people if they are not aligned to your vision of what a ‘good life’ looks like.
That’s OK. Take a breath. And let it go.
You can’t stop yourself from feeling frustrated but you can choose how you respond to the frustration.
11.Be Nice – It Costs Nothing
Be nice to the people round about you. Say good morning to the people you walk past every day, smile at the cashier, pick up the rattle that the toddler has dropped out of the pushchair.
It doesn’t cost anything but that one moment of kindness could make a world of difference to those around you.
12. Stay Curious
Spend a day with a four year old, see the world through their eyes and be reminded of how ridiculously interesting the world is. There is so much to learn, so much to explore and so much to be curious about.
Be curious about places, people, how things work, language, colour, design, food, history, science….
If you come up with a great idea, follow through with it, explore it and see where you might end up.
Follow your curiosity and learn new things.
13. Get Clear About What You Can Control – Let Go Of The Rest
No matter who you are there, will be things in your life that you can and can not control.
Use your True North as your orientation to help guide your decisions about the things that you can control.
Let go of those things that you can not control.
14. Seek Forgiveness Rather Than Ask Permission
If you want to create a good life well lived then sometimes you will will need to be bold. You will need to do things which go against the norm. And you need to be brave and take action.
If you wait for permission you may never start. And 99% of the time forgiveness is not even required. You worry that it might be so it puts you off taking action.
This doesn’t mean that you should knowingly do things that will hurt other people. It’s a reminder to not let fear of what might happen stop you from moving forward.
15. You Are More Capable Than You Give Yourself Credit
You’re a living, breathing human being with a 100% unique mix of skills, qualifications, qualities and personality. You have incredible value to share with others and despite what you may believe, you are enough, exactly as you are.
This ‘good life’ that you want to create and live is within your reach.
You can do it because you are more capable than you ever give yourself credit for.
16. It’s Never That You ‘Can’t Do’ Something, It’s That You ‘Can’t Do It Yet’
You don’t need to have it all figured out. You don’t need to be able to do it all right here and right now.
There is time.
Time to learn what you need to learn, time for circumstances to change and for you to have more freedom to pursue the things that matter to you, time to experiment, time to make changes.
Remember the 1% nudge, what are the small, significant changes and actions that you can take right now that move you closer to your True North? Do them.
The rest can follow later.
17. Be Passionate
For goodness sake, show a bit of passion! You don’t need to transform into Carmen Miranda with a basket of fruit on your head and a Latin trill but you do need to be passionate about your good life.
What bits do you already love?
What are you passionate about that you want to share with others?
Share it with the world and share it like you mean it.
18. Have Confidence in Yourself
Be confident enough to stand up for what you believe in and spend your time doing the things that you want to do. You have already achieved so much in your life so why shouldn’t you carry on and continue to do the great things that matter to you.
Say no to the things that don’t serve you and make way for doing more of what you love with the people that you love.
19. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Stop comparing yourself to other people. They are not you and you are not them. Anyway, you are only seeing the version of that person that they want you to see. You have no idea what is going on behind the scenes.
Head down, eyes in your own lane, the only thing you need to do is BE YOU.
20. Embrace Your ‘Youness’
On that note, embrace your own unique ‘youness’ in all of it’s gloriously perfect imperfection.
Acknowledge your quirks, be proud of your idiosyncrasies. Without them you wouldn’t be you.
21. Keep Your Inner Critic In Check
We’ve all got an inner critic, it’s that little voice in our head that niggles away and tells us that we are not good enough.
When your inner critic starts to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, smile sweetly, stick two fingers up at it and say ‘thanks for sharing your thoughts but I’m in charge here’.
22. Pay it Forward
When life is good. Pay it forward. Either with time or with money.
When life isn’t so good. Still pay it forward.
Nine times out of ten there will be people in a worse position than you. And when you are in a worse position than others wouldn’t you like to be on the receiving end of some kindness?
23. Show Up Every Single Day
Show up for the people that matter to you. Show up for the things that matter to you.
Don’t let life pass you by. If something is important to you then follow through on it, if you think something is unfair then be brave enough to take action.
24. Be Grateful
You’re a living, breathing human being on planet earth, in one of the most exciting and influential times in the history of the world. You have the intellectual capacity to be able to read this article and the financial means to have some way of accessing it.
Stop thinking about the things that you don’t have in your life and start appreciating all that you do have.
Cultivate gratitude and make it a daily practice to help you keep a positive attitude and celebrate the magic moments in your good life.
Life is good. Live it well.