What makes a ‘good life’ ?

I have been reflecting on the ingredients for a good life – what does it take? My thoughts went to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as in the diagram below.

Well being 4

In reading about it on Wikipedia I found there is a new theory that has overtaken Maslow’s and it is the Attachment Theory.

I am interested in finding out some more about that, but not tonight 🙂

I did a Google search on well-being and also found these diagrams that attempt to sum up what it takes to experience well-being.

 

What do you think of them and do you have any alternative strategies to achieve well-being?

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17 thoughts on “What makes a ‘good life’ ?

    • I wasn’t sure how to reply to both Eric and Nancy, so I have copied to both. I feel Maslow’s hierarchy is invaluable for getting over a crisis or starting anew after a major life change such as losing your job, divorce, or retirement. I see two weaknesses in its theory.
      The first is the middle layer of relationships. Take that out and the other four layers make sense. We make gradual steps in recovery or growth from survival, to stability, to independence to reaching out and giving back. At the SAME TIME we connect with people at whatever level we happen to be at. In survival mode we lean on others, they are our comfort. In our stability mode we rely on belonging to a family or tribe of some sort. When we reach independence we are OK on our own. Then as we grow we begin to connect one-on-one. Then we move on to contribute to community and global affairs. Some people never get past the first ‘needing’ level as far as relationships go.
      The second weakness in the hierarchy is what Nancy alluded to. People look for need satisfiers rather than the need underneath. We do not need a home, we need stability and certainty; we do not need experiences and jobs, we need meaning and purpose; we do not need people, we need to feel valued and respected. As Nancy said, we can find all of those within ourselves.
      Nevertheless, Maslow’s hierarchy is still a good starting point for people in a quandary of life change.
      Two other models I have found helpful are Max-neef’s needs. He lists nine and within each moves from receiving, to being, to doing and giving. You know, a starving person needs food. Rather than give him food, teach him to plant crops. He becomes self-sufficient, feels independent and gets to participate.
      The other model I found useful is the Hudson institute cycle of renewal. Check it out. there is a book written on it.

  1. Many of Maslow’s “needs” are ego-concerns that add to our suffering as often as they alleviate it. A good life arises when we cultivate clear vision and personal authenticity ~ seeing things as they are, and being more fully who we are.

    From Awakening to the Sacred:

    We practice Dharma when we stop clinging to our preconceived notions about what we should do and achieve. We find truth when we learn to let go, accept, see things as they are, and just be. We find truth by discovering our inner light, our inner value and values, our authenticity and genuineness. This is living truly. (p. 114)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts/insights into this topic Nancy. I hadn’t given much thought to Maslow in long time but thought it worth revisiting to see it afresh.

      • I’ll simply add to what I understand and appreciate about Nancy’s perspectives. Maslow’s Theory does address needs but I see few (rather than “many”) as ego-concerns. In his hierarchal model the foundational tiers focus on living basics, survival in a social constructs. These needs are not of the ego mind.

        What makes a “good life” is up to each individual to determine and may differ significantly from one to another, depending on innumerable internal and external factors. Ego-ish driven needs can be seen more obviously as one nears the model’s pinnacle.

        Nancy and I are of like mind and practice on many topics. I think what distinguishes here is that many people are not as enlightened and perhaps developmentally advanced as Nancy. It is very challenging for many people to consider, plan for and live a “good life” when they haven’t even explored or lived in/with some of life’s fundamental concerns.

        Ergo, I believe Maslow’s Theory is a bona fide component when reflecting on an array of ingredients.

      • Thanks for that Eric. I did find it interesting that you and Nancy differed to some degree. I feel very fortunate to be able to converse with enlightened people such as yourself and Nancy. For many years I just got by due to being a sole parent with little support. Now that I am at a different place I need to learn how to get out of being in ‘survival mode’.
        Thanks again for your thoughts, Eric 🙂

      • For those just starting out, there is a NEED to figure out the Food, Clothing, Shelter part of it . . . but our needs are few ~ most people, for example, do not need 57+ pairs of shoes, or granite countertops, or stainless steel appliances. They just THINK they do.

        We have far more possibilities to choose from when we look within for guidance rather than choosing a livelihood based on what’s apt to gain esteem and approval from others.

    • I wasn’t sure how to reply to both Eric and Nancy, so I have copied to both. I feel Maslow’s hierarchy is invaluable for getting over a crisis or starting anew after a major life change such as losing your job, divorce, or retirement. I see two weaknesses in its theory.
      The first is the middle layer of relationships. Take that out and the other four layers make sense. We make gradual steps in recovery or growth from survival, to stability, to independence to reaching out and giving back. At the SAME TIME we connect with people at whatever level we happen to be at. In survival mode we lean on others, they are our comfort. In our stability mode we rely on belonging to a family or tribe of some sort. When we reach independence we are OK on our own. Then as we grow we begin to connect one-on-one. Then we move on to contribute to community and global affairs. Some people never get past the first ‘needing’ level as far as relationships go.
      The second weakness in the hierarchy is what Nancy alluded to. People look for need satisfiers rather than the need underneath. We do not need a home, we need stability and certainty; we do not need experiences and jobs, we need meaning and purpose; we do not need people, we need to feel valued and respected. As Nancy said, we can find all of those within ourselves.
      Nevertheless, Maslow’s hierarchy is still a good starting point for people in a quandary of life change.
      Two other models I have found helpful are Max-neef’s needs. He lists nine and within each moves from receiving, to being, to doing and giving. You know, a starving person needs food. Rather than give him food, teach him to plant crops. He becomes self-sufficient, feels independent and gets to participate.
      The other model I found useful is the Hudson institute cycle of renewal. Check it out. there is a book written on it.

  2. What I’m getting at is that a good life / success for me = happiness. Most people agree ~ they want more happiness and less suffering.

    But we complicate matters by looking for happiness in things, rather than in us. Instead of just “being happy” (by telling the Ego mind to take a hike), we look for happiness in doing and achievement and esteem and . . . etc.

    If we feel we NEED the esteem and approval of our peers to have a good life, we are always looking over our shoulder to check THEIR reaction to what we are doing ~ instead of using our inner barometer. And that produces GUILT when we don’t live up to their expectations, and RESENTMENT that they don’t see the world we do.

    If we feel we NEED a house, a car, etc., to be happy, we are engaged in a battle to keep those things SAFE. That produces more FEAR and more SUFFERING.

    What we want to cultivate is happiness “for no reason.” Because then our happiness can never be taken away.

    Happiness “for no reason” can only be found in the present moment when we choose to Be Here Now with calm acceptance of the “what is” ~ we just enjoy the journey and “want what life wants” while focusing on our INNER landscape.

  3. Thanks Nancy and Eric for you considered comments on this topic 🙂 I appreciate the time and thought you put into it. My ‘inner barometer’ is a fairly weak signal and I still struggle to let go of trying to live up to other peoples’ expectations.

    • When I first stopped practicing law, my inner barometer’s batteries were DEAD. Or so it seemed.

      I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the “rest of my life” because most of my life had been about looking around me for approval/ permission/ recognition from others.

      Spend some time each day in meditation, asking questions of your Inner Guru ~ once the Universe knows we’re listening, signposts for the path we should follow materialize out of the mist.

  4. Start with “baby steps” . . . for example, consider something “simple” like the tradition of making a Christmas Pudding.

    * Do you enjoy the journey of making it? Does it seem like time well spent to you? Does it make you feel happy to connect with the past? Does it make you feel good to “give” it as a present to your loved ones?

    OR

    * Do you make it because other people expect you to make it? Do you resent having to make it? Do you secretly wish that someone else would take on the task/burden/responsibility of making it each year?

    Once YOU know how YOU feel about doing X, Y, or Z . . . you can start to maneuver around the pot holes in your path. [Sometimes all it requires is a simple announcement ~ “I’ve decided NOT to make a Christmas Pudding this year. Would someone else like to make it or should we have something else for dessert?”] Eventually, you’ll be able to tackle the boulders.

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