Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Makes a Good Life?

Good health and looking your best, right? That's why we're on this road. It can be inconvenient and frustrating, but the net result is way in the plus column. What else do you need for a good life? This is my list, highly personalized and in no particular order.

1. A warm and sustaining family life.

2. Observance of customs, holidays, rituals.

3. Close relationships with extended family.

4. Great friendships, frequent casual contacts with people who care about how you're doing.

5. Enough money, so you don't have to sweat daily needs, can afford small pleasures and provide for your children and your future.

6. Enough time so that you can spend some as you choose.

7. Spiritual life and charity.

8. A pretty place to live, so that you live your life against a backdrop that makes you happy.

9. Novelty-- shows, travel, new experiences.

10. An affectionate marriage with all the usual perks.

Do I have all these? Hell no. I am strong in some areas (1, 6, 8, and 10). Others are okay. The two I am particularly missing are 4 and 7. I ran into a book club friend the other day at Wegman's. I've seen her there twice and always give her an enthusiastic hug as she is a dear soul and I am a little starved for friendship. She greeted me warmly, introduced me to her friend, and said, "It's... it's Larkspur, right?" (Not my real name, but you knew that). GROAAAAAN. How sad is that? (No, it's okay to laugh. I did.)

At one time in my life there were numerous messages on my machine when I got home telling me news or inviting me somewhere. Now two messages would be a lot. When I moved eleven years ago, I left my web of friendships and connections. There's a whole host of reasons why I haven't made a new community of friends. Part of it, I'm sure, is the pull of 1, 8 & 10-- I love my house, I love my kids, and I would rather spend time with my husband curled up by the fire than do almost anything else.

My closest friend's life is mine almost flipped-- she has literally scores of devoted friends, myriad interesting casual social contacts, but no sweetie and no children. She keeps telling me I need to put in the time, just as I keep telling her that of course dating sucks, everyone hates it (apparently not true-- check out Fatfree Me in my sidebar!) But it's the only road to a mate and children besides arranged marriage.

I read an interesting book about retirement which was very clear on the point that money was only one part of preparing for retirement. Just as important to happiness were good health, sustaining social connections, meaningful work. So if you spent all your energy accumulating wealth while neglecting your health and your friends, your retirement isn't going to be all that great.

Food for thought. I'd love to hear about what a good life means to you.

5 comments:

  1. Less PMS would be nice...

    I think you captured the essence of what makes a good life.

    This may sound morbid, (I don't mean it to be, it actually helps me) but I sometimes imagine myself on my "death-bed" reflecting over my life and asking myself, "I wish I did more _____ and less ____." Then I realize I have that chance right now.

    I'd like to have a better ability to live in the moment and see the great things around me.

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  2. A woman from my church in her 70s has told me repeatedly to nurture friendships with your girlfriends. We women live longer -- it's the sad truth -- so it is our girlfriends who will be around for us all our lives. She recently went to the shore with girlfriends from college -- 50 years of friendship! Take mommy nights out with your friends... I meet up with friends at Wegmans!

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  3. Like you, I need to work harder on the girlfriends thing. I have made big strides in that lately, but still have a ways to go.

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  4. I personally feel it's OK to have only one or two close female friends. I like spending most of my time with my family, so friendships, while once first, now come second. Perhaps in my later years I'll develop new friendships when my kids are grown.

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  5. I think your list of ten is pretty much right on the mark, although this has me thinking a little of how I would populate this list on my own. In fact, that may be a good post.

    While you may not think so, I think it is good that you haven't achieved all ten yet. It gives you purpose.

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