The Good Life

The good life.  Why is such a short phrase life’s greatest riddle?

I’ve never met a person who has told me that he or she wants a bad life. Everyone that has ever met with me for counseling, advice or coffee all end up in the same place—seeking the good life. As I talk with people, I quickly discover the good life is almost like a foreign language. Few can define it. Most often, for the people I sit with, the good life is defined as a “better than I have right now life”. But is that THE GOOD LIFE?

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle equated the good life with Eudaimonia. In English this term is often translated as “happiness”, “welfare”, or “prosperity”.  When Aristotle was describing the good life, was such a way of life limited to health, wealth and happiness? As we can best understand Aristotle, Eudaimonia, the good life, was the highest place of human goodness.  This seems to be far beyond health, wealth and happiness.

When I think back on people I’ve met who are struggling with the good life, most people want to do something differently. I am convinced that asking “What can I do to have the good life?” is the wrong question. I believe the right question is “Who must I be to live the good life?”
I would argue that a good person lives the good life. Doing good doesn’t lead to the good life. Doing good is temporary. The results of good work may last or they may fade. We live in a “What have you done for me lately?” society. It is exhausting. However, when my life is good from the center—from the core of my being—then I live the good life. Having “good” at my core comes from leaning into the one who is only good.

The ancient thinker, Paul of Tarsus, writes, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

God is the source of the good life. God is only good. As the old southern saying goes, “God is good all the time; and all the time, God is good!” When God through Christ is the core of my being, the good life is fully knowable and attainable. Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

The good life isn’t lost to us—it’s found in Christ. If I want the good life, I must learn to live daily into Christ’s goodness in me.

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