Here at Your Best Life, we are dedicated to helping people live their best life. It’s so important to us that we named the company after it.
So it’s no surprise that we are regularly asked what a good life is and how to achieve it.
Now, if we know anything, it’s that everyone’s life is different and no two people are the same. So the definition of your best life is going to be very different to someone else’s.
And yet, we’ve seen time and again, across the broadest spectrum of people, backgrounds, experiences and lives, that there are a remarkably consistent set of principles and practices that together contribute to the living of a good life.
Integrate these seven ways of being into your daily life and the chances are that your life will get a whole lot better pretty quickly.
1. Live in the now
It’s extraordinary how focussed we can be on enjoying our lives at some point in the future.
I will be happy when I’ve lost weight.
I’ll work shorter hours once I’m more senior and financially secure.
Life will be easier once the kids are older.
The trouble with this approach is that it prevents you making the most of your life right now. And right now is literally the only life you will ever have.
So get in the habit of enjoying the life you are currently living, rather than deferring your enjoyment to a point that may never come.
2. Choose happiness
The important thing to realise about how you feel is that it’s not created by your circumstances. Instead your feelings flow from your thoughts. It’s why people have very different reactions to the same circumstances, with some breezing through what others find incredibly difficult.
Which means happiness and contentment – key elements of a good life – are a choice.
You don’t need to wait until your circumstances change. You aren’t reliant on life dealing you a better hand, on your boss deciding to promote you or on your kids deciding to cut you a break.
You simply need to choose to recognise the good in your life.
And a great way to do that is to make gratitude a daily feature of life. Writing a list of 3 reasons you are grateful every morning – the sun shining, the roof over your head, the delicious breakfast you’re about to eat – is a powerful way of choosing happiness. It can even be effective if some things feel really difficult at the moment – I’m grateful for the cuddles I had with my daughter when she woke me up at 2am, 3am and 4am last night.
3. Accept pain
As well as choosing happiness, leading a good life means embracing pain. No life is all good, with difficult things happening to us every day, from the small to the immense.
Pain is simply a fact of life and pain will feature in any good life. What will stop us enjoying life is struggling against pain.
He should not have cheated on me.
She should not be ill.
I should not have lied.
By continually arguing with the past and things we cannot change, we can make ourselves desperately miserable – it’s a battle we can never ever win. If we can accept the things we cannot change – the past, the things other people do, what the universe choose to deliver – we can set ourselves free from the struggle against pain. This can allow us to feel the pain of an event and then move on to happier times.
4. Find meaning and purpose
A core component of a good life is having purpose.
It may be at home, at work, or in your broader life. But without purpose life will feel empty and meaningless.
Key to finding meaning in life is being clear on what your values are. What really counts to you when the chips are down? What impact do you want to have in life? How do you want your life to benefit others?
Take decisions based on the answers to those and you can’t fail to live a more meaningful life.
5. Choose internal happiness over external pleasure
It’s easy to think that you can stimulate happiness through the pursuit of external pleasures, like food, alcohol, sex or shopping.
But whilst all of those things can make you feel temporary pleasure, they don't lead to long-term happiness. Which means if you rely on them for your happiness, you'll need to keep going back to them every time we want to feel happy. And that will either lead to problematic behaviours or leave you unable to feel happy.
Instead know that real happiness can only come from within – how you think about yourself and your place in the world – rather than external stimulation.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development – amongst many other studies – tells us that good close relationships are essential to a good life.
So invest in good relationships. Spend time face to face with people (even if over Zoom right now!). Really get good at listening attentively, allowing others to speak without feeling the need to correct, advise or talk about yourself. Don’t assume that people know all the good stuff you think about them – tell them. Invest in your relationships, really thinking about how to keep them fresh. Do new, exciting stuff. Reach out and make contact. Don’t bear grudges and pick no battles.
To find out whether you have the friends you need in your life, click here
7. Enjoy the process
Finally know that living a good life is not a goal, it’s a process. You will never reach a point of perfection, a moment of perfect equilibrium and balance, sitting in a yoga pose basking in your good life.
A good life is instead a constant work of daily practice. Investing in yourself and your relationships. Taking actions to correct what’s going awry. Revisiting your beliefs and values as life evolves. Fixing problems that pop up, dealing with pain that comes your way. Constantly working on your mind and your actions so to keep yourself moving.
Leading a good life is less a yoga pose and much more like riding a bike. You have to keep moving forward and making lots of little adjustments to stay upright.
So there you have it, seven principles and practices that we’ve seen have a powerful effect on the quality of your life, whatever is going on in it. Even better, even practicing a few of these a bit will start to make improvements right away. Once you get them all integrated into your life daily, the impact will be even bigger.
To sum up…
Integrate these seven principles and practices into your daily life:
- Live in the now, enjoying the only life you have – the one right here, right now
- Choose happiness, consciously refocussing your mind onto the good in your life
- Accept pain, knowing that it is part of life and that struggling against it will make you unhappy
- Find meaning and purpose by getting clear on what you want your life to be about
- Choose internal happiness over external pleasures
- Connect with other human beings, by listening, showing up, sharing, investing
- Enjoy the process by never standing still, trying every day to make your life great.