How to live a good life



Long time ago Aristotle posed a question that was as important in ancient Athens as it is today: "How do we live a good life?" Happiness is the natural consequence of a life well lived; Aristotle wrote. It's like playing an instrument: we learn by doing until we become "virtuous" in living.

I like this approach. It highlights the fact we are the agents of our lives and we can use every moment we live to practice for a better, happier life, making conscious choices. Yes, maybe is not about thinking at the whole life at once, but about practicing every moment, every day, keeping one eye on the present and one eye on the future.

It starts when you stop saying:
"If only I could be like… I'll be happy! Or
"if only I could have that… I'd be happy"

Let me ask you a question: if you postpone your happiness for a future time, what happens with the time you are living in this very moment? Isn’t this going to be a wasted time because you'll live for the future, not for the present? What can you see now that makes you happy?

If living a good life is like learning to play an instrument, I guess we should practice every day, but what?

First take some moments and think about a period of time when you felt happy, a time when you woke up in the morning looking forward for the day to begin and nothing happened to change this feeling of optimism and pleasure. Think of pictures from that time, remember smells and sounds of music sounds maybe. When you remember a happy time, practice bringing it to your mind so when you'll feel low, you can bring these images easier into your consciousness.

What was good during those times? What made you feel good?

For many people is experiencing positive relationships. Adler said that all problems are interpersonal relationship problems. Indeed, many of our problems stem from our daily interactions at home, work, on the street. It is true that having a good relationship with ourselves makes it easier for us to have a better relationship with others as well. Liking yourself when you look in the mirror, having realistic expectations from yourself and others, not worrying about what others think of you are important aspects that improve the probability to experience meaningful, authentic, nurturing relationships.

Enjoying a good health is another important factor

Ask yourself: "am I doing the things I know are good for my health? What is keeping me from not doing what I know I should do? What is the thing/activity that if I start doing now, it will have the biggest positive impact on my health?"

Still, many do not enjoy the optimal health situation. It will than take more effort to change the focus of your attention from the deficit (what you lack) to the positive (what you have), to accept that disease is a part of you, not the whole you. That's where mental strengths come into play, that's when your true self come up, in the most difficult situations. Get to know your dark sides as well your best sides.

Being optimistic about the future is essential for your happiness because it says about you that you are confident that you can handle whatever life will bring you. We often experience fears and worries in our lives, we anticipate bad things happening, more often these anxieties consume your energy instead of being useful. So next time when you catch your anxious thoughts ask yourself how true/ fact based are these thoughts? Is there any proof that it will be like that?' If the answer is not reality based, let go of that worrying thought, it won't bring much to you. Knowing how to handle problems when they appear and how to be resourceful, feeds your self-trust.

You can practice then being courageous

How often do you say to yourself: "I could do it, if I try" but you do not commit to doing anything? The question is: "what do you want to do, that you are not doing now?" These could be goals related to your work, personal life, your health or financial situation. What are the excuses you are giving to yourself, how real are they?

When I mean practice courage, I mean start doing the things that will lead you toward your goals. You don't have to start with all at once, instead break it into small, achievable parts because everything you'd do, will still be more than nothing, it will be one step ahead. Start with the thing that will have the most positive impact on your life.

Be spontaneous!

Did you ever notice how do you feel when you know exactly how your day will be? I think most often, having everything planned, leaves no place for creativity and spontaneity. How were you as child, what did you like to do? Think about how could you bring that joyful and playful moments into the present life? You like to sing? Sing! You like to play games? Invite your friends and play games! You like staring at the sky? What are you waiting for? It’s like adding spices to your food.

How about seeing problems from a different perspective?

Very often we get our focus stuck on a problem and our emotional state then is given by this perspective. Every problem has different perspectives, so sometimes, when there isn’t anything we can do to improve the situation, maybe seeing a different perspective might ease our discomfort. Look in the same time for things that are working well in your life, this could give you distance for re-approaching your problem.

This post wants to be an encouragement for you to reflect upon those times when things worked out well for you and you were part of making things happen. Stay inspired and try new things, be a positive inspiration for those around you. In the end, when you understand that mostly is up to you to live a good life, you will have more influence on how you feel day by day.

Please feel free to share any feedback or comment

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