What is the Good Life?

These past few months, I’ve focused in on trying to live a better life. I’ve done a mental health challenge, I’ve done advent readings, and I’ve done a two-week challenge for self-care that yielded amazing results for me. I went through Christmas more relaxed and happy than ever.

Also this year, I signed up for a happiness course online with Laurie Santos, put her blog on my podcast app, and began listening to another podcast called Essentialism with Greg McKeown. I’ve read books on organization and minimalism. I’ve read books on how to live purposefully and how to be happy. 

Recently, I realized that I did all of these things in pursuit of the good life. All of these resources lead me to the conclusion (and research supports it) that the things that I think will make me happy actually make me feel worse. I began wondering – if that’s true, then what is the good life, really? I mean, we’re all searching for it but what is it really?

I have thought about what in these challenges over the last months have actually helped me and what has not. I am starting out with some small changes. Little additions and subtractions in my life that may or may not make me happy. I’m diving into what the above (and other) resources say makes a person happy and I’m going to conduct a series of experiments over the next twelve months on myself. 

I will add and subtract things from life that I think will make me happy and I will report on it periodically to you dear readers. I hope you will join me in trying some of them and I hope that it will also benefit your life too. 

When 2020 began, no one could have predicted that all the craziness that would occur. Yet, with all that, towards the end of the year, I found that I had adjusted my perspective and gained a new vision. I gained clarity in 2020 that was lacking in prior years. I want to make 2021 better than ever. I want to live the good life starting now. 

Jesus said he came to give us life and that we may have it more abundantly. I’ve decided that I want that. I want an abundant life. I want a good life. I’m going to move forward towards it. 

So, what are the first things I am going to do? Glad you asked! First and foremost I’m doing, living, and existing in a state of “less”. I want to do only that which will make life better and which will pursue my purpose for being on this planet. 

People are calling it minimalist, essentialist, purpose-driven, etc. I’m just calling it the year of less. I want less junk so I can have more of what matters. All, while not going off the deep end again – burnout is a terrible thing. This means I have to do the things that matter most and not do the things that don’t matter. Sounds easy – but it’s the hardest thing I have to do of all the things.

In pursuit of this less/more approach, I have decided that I will read the New Testament in a year. In prior years, I’ve read the Bible in a year using YouVersion app and I’ve done annual devotions. I’ve also read Jesus Calling, Jesus Calling Morning and Evening, and Jesus Always. I’ve done other year-long, daily devotion books too. This year I just want to see what Jesus said, what he did, and what happened after he left. I want to know more. The only way to do that is to go to the source. 

If you want to join me I would love to hear about it, and your progress. I am just reading a chapter a day starting on January 1, 2021. By the end of January, we should make it through the book of Matthew. That’s 28 chapters. It seems like a lot, but the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Less stuff, more Jesus.

A bit of advice: Choose a Bible that you like. I have chosen the New Living Translation because it is easy to read and to understand. There are hundreds of different versions. Before you pick try it out, this is a year of less; you don’t want to buy a bible and find it’s hard to understand. Go to your app store, type in Bible, it should be the first on the list. The maker is YouVersion and the app image is a Bible. Like this:

Second is taking care of myself. I have loved my 30 minutes a day of me-time, my gratitude lists, and my exercise/water improvements this year. Because of this I will continue to list ten things each day that I am grateful for. It can be the same things or different things. I challenge myself to think of at least five different things each day. I will exercise three to four times a week. I will try to drink half my body weight in ounces of water a day. 

For example: if a person weighs 100 lbs, divide by 2, which is 50, and then add ounces to it. So a person who weighs 100 lbs drinks 50 ounces of water a day. 

Right now, I’m close to drinking enough water but I can’t seem to get there every day. Also, I basically stopped exercising since the first week of December and I really feel the difference. I have also decided I want to try to jog a 5k this year. Maybe the Air Force Marathon 5k which I think is in September.

Third, I am continuing my progress of decluttering and deep cleaning. Previously, we’ve begun decluttering the basement for our sitting room, our bedroom closets, and our kitchen. This week we’ve decluttered the entryway in our home and I’ve deep cleaned the bathroom. We had coats and leashes and shoes piled up and hung up in the entryway for a couple years. I decided to see if it looked better with less and it does. I also deep cleaned the bathroom because dusty window blinds are annoying. I removed the window valance, dusted everything, wiped baseboards, and mopped the floor. It’s a remarkable difference. 

My next decluttering tackle for January is the paper in my office. I was looking for something last week and could not find it. I had to sort through piles of paper, folders of paper, and sorters of paper to look. I ended 20 minutes later with a frustrated exclamation “why is there so much friggin paper!?” That experience decided it for me – I need to get rid of all the paper.

Last, I am going to consider what my favorite things are. I will think about the things I experience and say “that is good.” It will be different for everyone. I know some things that I love, but I want to get to the heart of what I really want and what I really believe is good, worthy, and right. I think the first step in creating a good life is creating a vision of what it might look like for me.

In Habakkuk 2, God tells the prophet to “write the vision and make it plain” and he says “it will surely come..” In December, I got a new planner in my faith box and I will be using it to create a monthly vision board and to track all of my new plans, thoughts, and habits. I believe that I’ve heard somewhere that it takes about three weeks to create a habit. So, tracking how long I’ve done things and how consistent I am over time will help me solidify the habit and monitor my progress as well. 

If you want to join in here is a free download for you it will allow you to track your progress weekly. There is one in color and one in black & white to save ink. There’s also a monthly calendar with a space to write your vision if you like.

Here’s what I think will happen during this month: 1) I will feel physically better, 2) I will learn something new, 3) I will be more focused, and 4) I will be happier. 

I will track my progress and we’ll see where I land at the end of the month. I will then report it here to you. The next month, I will add, subtract, or change things based on my ideal of the good life is and what the research says about it. 

My guess, dear reader, is that you’re here because you have been at step one for a while. You have found, just as I have, that your life is unmanageable. Maybe you’re at step two where you find that you have your higher power and maybe that higher power is God. Maybe you’re looking for a good life too. I think the four changes listed above are a good starting point to a better life, or a good life. The best place to start is the beginning, right where you’re at. 

What do you think? Will you join me? What do you think the good life should look like? Will you make the same or similar changes? Where will you start? Leave a comment below, enter the conversation. I’d love to hear from you.

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