The notion of the “good life” began in ancient Greece with the work of philosopher Aristotle. He was interested in what made life enjoyable and how ordinary people could strive towards it.
He didn’t solve the problem, of course. The question is something that has puzzled philosophers over the centuries and is still a long way from being answered today.
In the past, the good life was something based on philosophical maxims. But people interested in happiness today often bypass it entirely and go straight to what the evidence says. When are people at their most satisfied? The results have turned up some exciting results. It’s not all about living a life consistent with your values, although that’s part of it. It’s also about creating the material and psychological conditions that make a happy life possible.
Experiencing Positive Relationships
Central to the notion of the good life is positive relationships. Aristotle noticed that people were surprisingly social beings. They seemed to cooperate and enjoy the company of other members of their species far more than any other animal. He observed that people would often help each other for no personal gain. It’s just in our nature.
Relationships can, however, go wrong. Errors in our thinking, faults in our character, and a lack of communication can all take their toll. When relationships break down, it can harm our mental wellbeing and set us up for mental health issues. Positive relationships are, therefore, fundamental to the notion of the good life.
Living In A Beautiful Environment
European planners in the 1960s thought that brutalist tower blocks which huddled people together in city centres were the ideal way for people to live. Communities would develop and flourish, and the inner city would be transformed. This, of course, is not how it happened. Practically nobody believes that living in a monolithic tower block on a run-down estate in the way to live a good life.
To find out where people want to live, it’s helpful to look at where they go when they have the money to choose a location. Coastal living homes are popular, for instance, because people can enjoy the beauty and the freshness of the sea. Similarly, homes in national parks or leafy woodland are also highly popular because of the stunning surroundings and natural beauty. It’s not the most critical element, but aesthetics are a vital component of the good life. Most people don’t want to live next to quarries or industrial estates.
Having The Feeling Of Accomplishment
Humans it seems, are wired for achievement. Ever since the first cave dwellers, we’ve created art and music. And today, the opportunities to make something of your life seem almost endless. We have entrepreneurs doing everything from making fake meat to building rockets destined for Mars.
The feeling of accomplishment comes on the back of a lot of hard work. Mastering skills isn’t natural. However, the satisfaction you obtain from doing so is often rewarding enough by itself. A good life, therefore, is about both material success and the effort you put into achieving it.