“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Lately, I’ve been chewing on the idea that I want to live a good life. Not a great one. Not one with tons of fireworks and dramatic flair. Just a good one. With good people. Good food. A good time all around.
What is it that I need to do to get there?
What is it that I need to have to get there?
What is it that I need to look like to get there?
In order to feel like I have the good life, I always thought it was about goals that I needed to accomplish. Get good grades. Do my chores. Clean my room. Eat good food. Become an expert at something. Letting all these goals pile and pile on top of each other until I became overwhelmed, felt low, and this cycle began again.
Though I’m an avid goal setter, every time I check off a goal, while I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride, that feeling rarely sustains me. I wake up the next morning looking towards the next goal, eager to work my way towards the good life.
Others accumulate. Our society is big on consumerism and advertisements are marketed towards the idea that we would satisfy our wants. Maybe you want a few nice things, and you see an ad, you feel more of an inkling to get those things. Influencer marketing has done this exceptionally well. People like us show their lives to us, edited for the most entertaining and aesthetically pleasing view of their lives. In order to feel like we’re living lives like theirs, we buy the things they have.
We slowly accumulate and consume, thinking this is the way to the good life.
Along with this is having this belief that we need to look like we’re living the good life in order to. So we buy the things and then we post on Instagram, showing off all the things we have. As other people like it, we gain this sense of validation based on the number of people like our photos and in turn, make us feel seen.
Our follower count grows higher and we slowly begin again. We aim for more likes and more followers, posting more of our lives to gain that external validation that never lasts. We become addicted to other people telling us how to live our lives, mirroring the way people look on social media and posting it for clout and attention.
Well, here’s where the quote comes in –
We can all enjoy the lives we have as long as we make up our minds to.
When we allow ourselves to complain and grumble for a long period of time, we lose sight of the good life and get stuck in the lowlights (Sara Bareilles, anyone?). Though, we may be in the midst of trial, financial strain, or grief, we can choose to see every day as a day filled with good things.
Maybe you had time to rest today. Maybe you saw a piece of art that you liked. Maybe a stranger smiled at you (behind their mask). Maybe you had a good conversation. When we look at every day as the potential to fill it with things we love and fill our hearts with hope and gratitude, we’re living a good life.
Anne of Green Gables gets into so many antics when she first moves into Green Gables. She *SPOILER ALERT* breaks a slate over Gilbert’s head, dyes her head green, gets Diana drunk, and falls from a barn. But part of the nature that people love about Anne is that she wakes up everyday looking at life as an adventure, one filled with whimsy and joy.
We can spend on days worrying them away or we can surround ourselves with people who we love and they make life a lot brighter.
A positive attitude doesn’t negate hardship. There is plenty of time to mourn. You can be sad and find a reason to smile. You can grieve and laugh at a meme. Just don’t wake up every morning hating life. Don’t wake up in the darkness of your thoughts spiraling downward. And if you do, maybe that’s a sign to change something.
Take a walk and journal. Call your doctor. Text a friend. Have a staycation where you have time for reflection and ask yourself questions. “Why do I feel so bad about my life?” “Is there anything I need to change?” “What is the easy first step that can lead me in a new direction?” “Who would be able to guide me in making this change?”
The good life isn’t necessarily a big mansion with a pool and a view of the city (similar to Selling Sunset), but no view of nature that you love. It isn’t designer bags and jewelry with no place to go, or freshly pressed suits and traveling for 6 months at a time with no place to call home. It isn’t a six figure job that keeps you from making friends and seeing family.
The good life is laughing on your porch at 7 pm. It’s dancing in the kitchen as you make breakfast to your favorite song. It’s a hike with your best friends. It’s the sunrise on the beach with your partner. It’s the night of bowling with your coworkers. It’s the ability to come home and enjoy dinner with no sense of work looming. It’s waking up every morning grateful that this life is yours. How lucky you are the one to be living it.
If you have people you love, things you enjoy doing, and everything that you need, you are living a good life.
And let that be enough.
What does the good life look to you? How have you found the good life in quarantine?