Monday, December 31, 2012

Evolving the Definition of "The Good Life"

Why is it we can describe the good life by its negative? By what it is not? Does that mean if we were living the good life, we wouldn't recognize it?
The Best Advice Neil Gaimon Didn't Take
Months after Neil Gaiman gave the keynote address for the 134th University of the Arts Commencement, I heard it. I don't remember what I was doing that I stumbled across it. All I know is that I found it, and I really listened. And listened again and again.

The best advice he didn't take was what stuck with me. "[I]t came from Stephen King twenty years ago, at the height of the success of Sandman. ... [H]is advice was this:
“This is really great. You should enjoy it.”
And I didn't. Best advice I got that I ignored. Instead I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn't a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years that I wasn't writing something in my head, or wondering about it. And I didn't stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I'd enjoyed it more. It's been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on. 

That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.
The Best Advice Neil Gaimon Didn't Take
Would you recognize the good life? If you did, would you enjoy it? Or, would you worry about what came next?

365 Days of Thanksgiving

Concerned that I might be too focused on the next, 2013 is the year I focus on the now. To get in the habit of enjoying and being thankful for what I have at this moment, I'm launching 365 Days of Thanksgiving. Each day, I'll photograph and share who or what I'm most thankful for that day.

Crowdsourcing a Definition of The Good Life

In June, I took a stab at defining "The Good Life." The lifeless definition was: "The sequence of physical and mental experiences, meeting a high standard, that make up the existence of an individual."
While I can easily name the required components of a good life for me, Home, Food, Family (which includes Friends), and Fashion, I can't take it from guiding principles to characteristics. My guiding principles for the good life are:
  1. Abandon expectations.
  2. Communicate.
  3. Spend time with those you love, both family and friends.
  4. Make a cozy home.
  5. Share meals.
  6. Wear comfortable clothes.
So, I need your help. I'm writing a children's book for Gates that defines "The Good Life." Please share your definition of The Good Life in the comments below or on the blog's Facebook page. I'll be compiling your shared definitions with the images from the 365 Days of Thanksgiving. In return for your definition, if I use it in the book, I'll send you a copy when it's done. Remember that this is a children's book, so definitions need to be family friendly.
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.