Not so. The good life is not about having these worldly advantages. It is about doing what holds the greatest value in life for you. About doing what you see as the highest or most important good.
Doing things that are good is the road to a well-spent or happy life. They enrich your life. They make it worth living. They help you to develop a strong character. When you do these things the good life is yours.
Ironically wealth, power, prestige, and beauty can get in the way of having a happy life. It is the so-called simple things in life that are the foundation to the good life. Simple they might be but you have to work hard to get them to work for you.
The elements of the good life
The three elements of the good life are: 1. Connect to other people. 2. Positive personal traits. 3.Regulate your life.
The good news is that we are all able to do these things. The snag is that we may not be good enough at them to get the high results we need. So we have to raise these abilities to a very high level. Only then can we begin to enjoy the good life.
How to increase your ability to connect with other people
You use four abilities to connect with people. One, the ability to love. Two, the ability to be charitable. Three, the ability to forgive. Four, the ability to have a sense of deep meaning and purpose in life.
The first thing to accept is that you cannot work to improve all four of these abilities at the same time. To do so would spread your capacity to learn to thin to make any worthwhile progress. This is true no matter how smart or good a learner you are.
So the best approach is to identify how good you are at each of them. To do this just score yourself on a scale of one to ten on each of them. This will give you your feel for which one you are best at and how you fare with the other three.
Then get three people who know you well to rate you on these abilities. They should be people you can trust to give a fair and honest assessment. When you have their answers compare them with your own. Add up the totals including your own. The top score is a strength and the lowest is a weaknesses.
Do not waste time worrying about your weakness. Work on your strength instead for it will give you much more leverage. The better you get at it the better you will be able to connect with other people. And you success with it will also help you to improve your other skills. They are linked like a chain so when you improve one it will pull the others along in its wake.
This is not as hard as you think. For these are social skills that you were born with. So you can use them naturally. But like muscles the can lose their edge from lack of use. So the trick is to practice them every day. Then you will slowly get better and better at them.
It is also a good idea to read the 7 Pillars for Connecting with absolutely anyone in Forbes Magazine. It will help you to learn what you need to do to master these four abilities.
How to increase your positive individual traits
You have four positive personal traits that are essential to the good life: 1. A sense of integrity. 2. The ability to play. 3. The ability to be creative. 4. Courage and humility.
Once again the starting point is to find the one that is your strength. Use the same rating system as you used above to find what this is. And then work to improve it and to make yourself even stronger at it.
Your strength is a natural ability that comes easy to you. It is like a muscle if you do not use it enough it goes flabby on you. You need to use it regularly to keep it in trim.
The best way to do this is to plan a set time to use it every day. This is known as a systems approach. It is about setting up a system and working it to get the improvement you want. It differs from goal setting and it is much more effective in getting the results you want.
How to increase your ability to achieve your goals
To achieve your goals you need. 1. A sense of autonomy. 2. A high degree of self-control. 3. The wisdom to guide your behaviour.
You can develop these skills in much the same way as you can your ability to connect with people. First find which one you are best at. Then work hard to develop this strength. Practice it as often as possible and slowly but surely you will get better and better at it. And as pointed out above when you improve a strength it pulls your other skills along in its wake. Maybe the added confidence you get when you do one thing you are good at even better transfers itself to your other skills.
I see this blog as an introduction to these interesting ideas so I plan to expand on them in the new year. In the meantime you might read the following to sharpen up your understanding of them.