Several years ago I ran across a book called “The Good Life: Seeking purpose, meaning and truth in your life”. The author was Charles Colson. At the time, I did not have a clue who Charles Olson was and I bet it does not ring a bell with you either. More on that later.
I am a self-improvement junkie and I love to learn.
If an article or book even smelled of improving your life, relationships, work/life balance, you name it and I pursued it. I am a sucker for any publication with the word passion in the title. I have been a long search for a life and specifically a career that mattered. I did not want to waste my time or my talents on work that did not matter.
I longed for finding my true purpose in life and spent hours thinking about what that was and how I could do more of that, even if I had no real clue of my exact purpose. I was under the impression that you could apply a system or process and your life purpose would just pop out. This is where my business training did not serve me well.
Turns out, the process of finding the good life is much more mysterious and full of false starts, misguided actions, disappointments and at times, pure joy. I have taken more self-assessments, personality tests, etc. than you can imagine and while insights were gained, they did not provide the answer, only more questions.
I know the journey is supposed to be the best part. Frankly, I have found the journey frustrating, sometimes leading down the same old paths I had taken previously. I have made some progress over the years and today I have a clear sense of who I am, what I do well and where I can use my talents to help those around me. I know what I care about. It was not always that way and when I read “The Good Life”, I found a new perspective on what it means to have a good life. A life that matters.
Charles Colson is a fascinating individual. He was on Richard Nixon’s staff during Watergate and served 3 years in prison for obstruction of justice. Talk about a fall from grace. Here he was, at the age of 38, sitting next to the President of the United States.
His life was one of rapid ascent and incredible failure, at least for a period of time. After prison he has gone on to impact the lives of thousands of people thru his international ministry called Prison Fellowship. Now, most of us do not want to go to prison to find out our true purpose or what it means to live the good life. I sure don’t.
The Good Life challenges us all to re-evaluate what the Good Life means.
Charles tells incredible stories of failures and how our society and culture have hard wired us to chase the good life through money, material possessions, power and host of hollow pursuits. I cannot do justice to the depths and insights I have gained thru this book. But here are a few things I have come to understand about the Good Life.
The Good Life:
- is not defined by the size of your bank account
- is not defined by your job title or the house you live in or where you work
- is not defined by who you know and what circles you run in (Being a celebrity may not be the good life)
- is not defined by any of your possessions
- Is not defined by where you vacation
“The truth is that happiness demands far more and far less than the sum total of our possessions and pleasures”, Charles Colson, The Good Life.
The Good Life:
- is defined by how you use your talents to help others
- is defined by the quality of your relationships with your family and friends
- is defined by pursuing something that makes you a bit scared and at first glance, may appear far out of reach, probably pushes you way beyond your comfort zone.
- is defined by the activities and pursuits that make you come alive and give you energy
This is not a complete list, but these are the ones that I came to recognize thru reading, The Good Life.
I am not sure how you measure the items above. I tend to think you will know it when you see and feel it.
These days, I tend to pursue things in life that make me smile, give me energy and make me come alive. I think we need more people to do the same.
Is it risky? Yes.
Is it worth it? Definitely.
What is the Good Life for you?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what you are doing to pursue the good life.
Feel free to pass this along to others if you found this thought provoking or useful.