What is the meaning of a good life?
This common philosophy question especially intrigues me. It is perhaps one of the most difficult questions to answer, yet one of the most important ones to contemplate in our lives. Considering I studied philosophy in college, it is no wonder that my mind is hyperactive when it comes to this question. But how many of us, especially if we don’t study philosophy, intentionally think about questions like this at any point in our lives, much less on a daily basis?
This is part of my inspiration to start a segment introducing big questions like this; to start a discussion on some of the most pressing questions in life. It is these very questions that eventually brought me to Christ, but I would like to hear what you all have to say as well. And so I will simply provide my own responses to questions like this, and you can all provide your own thoughts in the comments as well. That could be in the form of agreeing or disagreeing with what I’ve said or providing your own intuitions. Ultimately, I aim to simply have a great conversation with you guys on topics pertaining to the well-being of ourselves and those around us!
Previously, I may have defined a good life as being free from working a job, or watching sports with my friends/family, or going out on Saturday nights, etc.. While these entities may still be entertaining at times when pursued in moderation, they are no longer necessary or sufficient to me in living a good life. I have now seen how adhering to the commandments of the Lord steer me away from potential sources of long-term affliction, and instead orient me toward sources of eternal happiness. This can manifest itself by being mindful of God’s love and forgiveness everyday or finding joy in doing service for others, thereby bringing them joy as well. Mother Teresa says herself ““The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.” Mahatma Gandhi even states, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Therefore, figures that are commonly looked up to would also likely view a good life as service towards others and finding joy in doing this work, and I can personally attest to the power of these aphorisms.
Overall, Marty Seligman’s PERMA theory could be very helpful in recapitulating my thoughts on what it means to live a good life. My relationship with the Lord helps me cultivate positive emotions such as love and forgiveness. In terms of engagement, losing myself in an activity that I’m good at and is in service to others can greatly contribute to the feeling of living a good life. Healthy relationships are certainly important to me and I greatly cherish them everyday in my life. My relationship with God and being mindful of a grander purpose gives me a sense of meaning in my life, and finally, conducting this work for the Lord makes me feel accomplished.
And so while this is certainly not an exhaustive way to answer such a broad and open-ended question, this was the first place my mind went. Feel free to provide your own responses, I would genuinely enjoy reading and responding to them, whether you agree or (respectfully) disagree! Also feel free to share how you have brought happiness to yourself and those around you. I look forward to what is hopefully a lively and spirited discussion, and as always, I hope you are all doing well!
One thought on “Philosophy Friday 09/18/20”
An interesting view and challenging question. What do I consider as a good life? I suppose it’s just being free to finish whatever I am here to do and having the divine assurance that I am loved regardless of my performance. The grace favour I have enjoyed all my life and the mercy and compassion that I have been given though not earned. I sometimes think of others who feel they are missing out. I have no answer for them. The only thing I believe is the difference between knowing and having a relationship with God and being all alone out there feigning for oneself. Happiness can be a subjective thought or feeling influenced by what goes on in one’s brain though. Some people may derive it from physical activities like exercises or other engagements. Really I can’t come to any one key factor that triggers it. I have observed this, that is, I tend to smile to myself when I see or hear something that brings good and happy thoughts. Mostly I just laugh at myself. Nature and nurture have played their part. On the whole if I can only choose one factor I would choose the fact that I know that I have God and He is good.