We think a good life means having an infinite number of friends – dozens of people who you see, interact with, and party with on a regular basis. Weekly dinner invitations, weekends packed with social events, constant requests to be in wedding parties, endless texts about what you’re doing tonight. But sometimes, all a good life needs is a few loyal, unwavering, make-you-laugh-til-you-cry friends. Friends who make you feel looked out for and who make you feel the most like yourself.
We think a good life means knowing what you’ve wanted to do since you were five years old. And some people are lucky enough to have that, certainly. But sometimes, a good life is just about opening yourself up to as many opportunities as possible, learning more about yourself with each new job and situation you get yourself into. It’s just as much about the joy you feel during the process of your exploration as it is about the joy you feel when you finally do discover your true calling.
We think a good life means finding true love. And yes, that certainly makes for a good life. But what makes for a really good life is discovering how capable you truly are of still being you, outside of your relationship. Of learning that your love is stronger when it’s made up of two unique wholes that come together to form an greater combination, rather than being made up of two chipped pieces who have gotten so wrapped up within one another that they lost sight of themselves. A good life can mean finding true love, as long as you never forget about you.
We think a good life means doing better than everyone around us. That as long as we are making more money or have a more impressive-sounding position or are dating a more attractive person than the person next to us, that we’ll be happy. But really, a good life means understanding the fact that someone will always seem to have a better life than us. Someone will always have more money or a better body or a better job or a seemingly better love life. A good life means acknowledging this information and accepting it as a mundane truth and then letting it go. A good life means realizing that there is so much more to every story. That no one has it easy in all aspects of life. That everyone is fighting something, not just us. And in that way, although jealousy will creep in from time to time because we are mere mortals, it will never truly have power over us.
We think a good life means becoming immune to judgment, to harsh words from others, to insecurity, to self-doubt, to shame, to criticism. But really, a good life is about realizing that you’re human. That you’re never truly safe from your fear of being an outsider, a failure, an outcast. And that, while you can never fully avoid these uncomfortable feelings, that you can still keep going, keep doing, and keep creating in spite of them. That it’s not about triumphing and defeating the stares and whispers of others. It’s about tuning them out just enough so that, although they may sting, you never let them prevent you from living your life the way you want to.
We think a good life means chasing after happiness until we finally achieve it. But what it really means is learning how to discover the happiness that already exists within the life around us, if we only payed closer attention. It’s having control over our possessions rather than giving them control over us. It’s appreciating the quality of what we have rather than the quantity. It’s finding joy and contentment in all the little things we take for granted – a really delicious piece of fruit, the way rain smells in the summer, our health, being able to sleep in, air conditioning, the fact that the sun came up again, the availability of information right at our fingertips. Think of every single thing from your past that you’ve ever lusted over – how bad you wanted that car, or that bag, or that apartment. How good it felt when you got it. And then, surprisingly, how quickly you got used to it. How fast it just weaved into your average daily existence. Now think about all the major things you so desperately want in your future, and understand that they will begin to melt into your life in the same way, once you attain them. There is nothing wrong with working hard to treat yourself to things that will make your life easier or make you feel good. As long as you remember that eventually, it will become normal. It will melt into your everyday. The object or situation may be permanent but the high of achieving it is temporary. It is not happiness. Happiness is already here.