We all deserve the good life, don't we?
I believe it , but believing it doesn't make it so. There are some big questions that must be asked - What is the good life? Who gets to live one? How?
First, it makes sense to me that one would need to aware of what "the good life" really means for them because "the good life" is so subjective. For one person, "the good life" can mean material success and class status while for another it could mean adventure and freedom and for another it can mean quality family time or community service. For me, the good life includes an inspired awakening to my days. I awake with an awareness and deep connection to my purpose and my contribution in this world. The good life includes the joys of connection with my partner, family, friends and community. The good life includes feeling good in my body.
And there are problems with "the good life" - whether we are born into it, fated to live it, worthy of it, know it, take it for granted or lose it completely and irrevocably. If you have a good life, then you certainly have something to lose, and perhaps, a lot to lose. So who gets the good life - the golden child? the legendary pioneer? the wizened sage? Maybe, everybody....well everybody who commits to the process of creating and living the good life.
So, what's the process for creating and living the good life? Here are 4 steps that have helped me!
1.) Identify the philosophy behind the way you live. What motivates your daily perspective, relationship and actions in your environment? Knowledge is power and self-knowledge is empowerment. Ask yourself these questions - What is Truth and how do you know it? What's your purpose and the purpose of life? What is a Good Life?
I know it's the transcendentalist in me that drives my outlook, interpretations and choices. I believe in the inherent goodness of things. I believe we can value what we feel and intuitively sense along with what we observe through the five gross senses, like sight, sound, etc. I believe that we are all capable of being ourselves and fully engaged in life. So, I behave in a way that for better and worse reflects these underlying beliefs. Now that I've identified my philosophy, I can consciously engage it. I can choose more clearly to what extent I listen to instinct, reason, intuition and inspiration, knowing that I assume inherent goodness and hold space for the opposite. As a result, I am better prepared to navigate my present moment.
2.) Get into and with your body. It's your partner, not your enemy. A good life is worthy of good health. Start by engaging awareness around your hygiene, sleep, eating and movement habits. Notice what habits are working for and against you. Immediately break habits that you know you can break. Slowly and steadily take on your other habits until you feel like your body care is supporting your energy, mood, vitality and clarity.
I remember believing that my body was against me, like it hated me and wanted me to fail. With awareness, I came to see that my body actually tried very hard to keep up with my expectations. It willingly pedaled 26 miles in an hour and a half on a bicycle and hiked 18-miles up three giant mountains in single day. My body tried to wear the smaller sizes and tried to not eat when she was hungry. My body did all that I asked and then I blamed it when my expectations where larger than life. From this awareness I tried to be with my body in different ways. I realized that it didn't need to work out more, my body was exhausted and needed sleep. I realized that my body needed attention and touch, so I tried self-massage and yoga. I realized I didn't want to feel deprived of food, my body wanted to feel nourished and this changed the way I related to eating. My life with my body changed and as I felt better, my outlook improved. As my outlook improved I made better choices that were more generous and connected with the greater good. Feel good, Be good.
3.) Know your Direction! Set your intention and become aware of your direction in relation to it. Are your actions taking you away from your intention or are they bringing you closer to what you want to experience and how you want to be in life? If you know how to check in with your inner compass, then do it often to discern mindful steps and opportunities that build a good life. If you're not sure about how to access what you really believe, intend and want, then be assured that this ability works like a muscle - use awareness to find it, practice working with it often, watch it develop strength!
When I first entered the Holistic Healing and alternative therapies world in 1999, I encountered a lot of resistance from those around me because they were afraid for me and the challenges I would face as a business owner and alternative health practitioner. Sometimes, I felt like I was being foolish to follow my heart into the world of self-care and yoga. Years passed and I couldn't have lived without the support of my friends and family, who showed up for me despite of their fears and doubts. It was a humble, frugal and desperate time for me. And still I stayed true to my direction. I knew in my heart that I was listening to my life's calling. I knew I was engaged everyday in work that inspired and fulfilled me. During these years, I had other opportunities come my way, and by being in touch with my intention and authentic self, I stayed true to my path, to my way. And I get to experience inspiration and fulfillment during my work days, which, to me, is part of a good life.
4.) Take New, Persistent and Mindful Action Everyday. Take at least 1 action in moving toward what you want to create in your life. Actions can be direct, like calling an opportunity back and saying 'yes' and they can be symbolic, like meditating, creating vision boards or journaling. Stay focused and connected with your intention and what you want to experience in life. Ask yourself what you can do to create your experience and try doing it. You will find out what works and what doesn't work in creating a good life by trying different actions and mindfully noticing the results of the action. This strategy supports you in being more graceful and effective in navigating life toward goodness.
Taking new action has inherent edge - it has unknown consequence. In ways, this is both the opportunity and the challenge. In 2011, I decided to sign-up for a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training. I was in a transition at the time, and was almost ready to quit my alternative health care and yoga practice. I knew I needed action to stay with my authentic life calling. The risk was financial, and, for me, it was big. To engage with this risk, I engaged in other actions like asking for support, praying, filling out a financial aid form and working as much as possible. Now, I direct Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy's yoga teacher training program, and the risk I took in 2011, along with the diligent attention and action I took in support of myself while engaging in this risk has paid off with a dream job!
The good life is available to everyone and there are many skills and strategies that can support you building yours. By recognizing your personal philosophy, your values and your frame of reference, you are empowered to understand and respond to yourself as you would to your best friend. By taking good care of your body, like your vehicle, you are readily available to engage and enjoy life. Be aware of your direction at all times. Are you facing forward? backward? Are you veering off? Be aware of your direction and keep your path aligned with what you want. And finally, be committed to your process. Take consistent steps in the direction you want to head, and be willing to take acceptable risks.
With awareness, care, direction and action, you can live the good life. It's yours to create. No need to hold back. Start your process right now and work on it everyday. I believe you deserve it and I know that if I can do it, you can too!