It’s a deeply personal question and the answers are as unique as the person contemplating it. And yet, for many of us, the question is not one that we’ve engaged with very much.
I was with a group of friends recently and our discussion turned to what we would do if we won a lottery and all of a sudden had a surge of money to take away all of our worries. That’s often the kind of glib answer we give in response to the question ‘what is the Good Life’? We quickly and easily reduce it to a life free of financial limitations.
I’ve been in this question for several years now. My teacher, Bob Dunham of the Institute for Generative Leadership, first brought it to my attention. His invitation was to reflect upon the question regularly, to open myself to what emerged in response, to journal my reflections and to be in conversation about it.
I took him up on his invitation and have spent several years immersing and playing with it. It has provoked many discussions with my husband – what’s my Good Life, what’s his Good Life and what’s our Good Life….in other words, looking at where they intersect and where they diverge.
The question has spawned rich dialogue with family, friends and clients; some of who are caught unawares, almost as though staking the claim to their Good Life is mischievous or rebellious – how dare you experience, much less, declare what you want in life!
What’s come forward for me has been great clarity that my Good Life is grounded in something deeper, something that goes beyond material possessions, travel logs and bank accounts. It’s born out of a relationship to Self. And this relationship to Self acts as the foundation upon which all other slices of my life pie can be sustained, experienced and enjoyed. I refer to this relationship as Unwavering Self-Acceptance.
I began to see that there were unequivocal links between certain aspects of my day-to-day routines and activities (or lack thereof) that had a significant impact on how I was feeling and ‘showing up’. As I followed these connections, almost like playing a mental version of Snakes n’ Ladders, I could see that when I was honouring my Self and accepting of my Self, other realms were positively and significantly impacted.
For example, when I’m in that place of Unwavering Self-Acceptance:
- I am much more centered, present and compassionate;
- My self-talk is nurturing and supportive;
- I trust and am guided by my intuition;
- I am attuned to nature and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me;
- My relationships are stronger, closer, and more meaningful;
- I honour my limits as well as the finitude that comes with being human;
- I give myself permission to play and to express myself creatively;
- I shift out of performing and into to serving;
- I feel more alive, vibrant and free
My Good Life is a constellation of these sorts of things.
After literally drawing this out in my journal one day, I started exploring how to refine this construct of Unwavering Self-Acceptance – what exactly would help me me build greater allegiance to it in order to support me living my Good Life?
I know now that there are practices that set the stage for this sacred relationship to be fortified, and when I commit myself to these practices I feel healthy and grounded and much more capable of accessing self-acceptance. I won’t write and exhaustive list of my practices here, but just for good measure what I mean are things like getting solid sleep, regular exercise, eating well, hydrating, playing with my dog, journaling, meditating, and reading. There are more, but you catch my drift.
I navigate my commitments to others around these commitments to Self. My schedule now includes space to take care of them. I don’t always get it right and there are definitely times when I’m not faithful to my practices. And the good thing about that is that the difference I feel mentally, emotionally and physically is so palpable that it quickly compels me to return to the basics.
My intention in writing about this is not so that you, the reader, will take these same practices that I’ve described and apply them to your life, nor do I want you to assume my personal interpretation of the Good Life as your own. My care in writing about this is to persuade you stand back and consider the bigger picture of all this: that the Good Life, your Good Life is something you have the power to author and design. Just think about what’s at stake. That’s what I did.
What is your Good Life?
The question begs your answer.
by Laura McCafferty
Laura McCafferty, PCC, works with high-potential and established executives who care about increasing the value they produce for their organizations, their teams and themselves.