The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 13 - 11/22/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Max Lundberg
As I ask myself, "What makes a good life?" I am inclined to respond that it is one in which I find happiness. But what is happiness and how is it measured?
Casual observations and the popular advertisements that we see all about us lead one to assume that what a person possesses is the source of happiness and thus a good life. If this observation is correct, then all we have to do is make a list of the things that we acquire to determine whether our life is a good one or not.
Does she have a beautiful home in a great location? Is his bank account full and growing? Are their wardrobes attractive and filled with a broad choice of clothing for dress, work, and play? Is finding a place to park the new boat, snowmobile, and recreational vehicle one of life's more challenging problems? In short, do things determine whether life is good?
Is spite of the focus on acquiring things, I really don't think that the things we acquire in life are a true measure of its quality. In fact, they often provide a measure of life's regrets. While I was working so hard to acquire things, how many days walking in the mountains with my wife and children did I miss? How many nights was I so tired that my daughters and I didn't go out and look at the stars and talk about life and its opportunities and challenges? How many times did I miss hearing those I am closest to say, "I love you," because I was too busy to love or be loved?
Some things do play a part in our quest for a good life. As an example, the camping equipment or boat that we buy may make important contributions to having a good life by providing the vehicles that brings us together with friends and family.
A good life is filled with personal satisfaction regarding what we have done with our time and opportunities. Being challenged by and enjoying both the rewards and demands of each day contribute to the quality of our life. Real contentment comes from knowing that we have done the best we possibly could with the opportunities and conditions we have experienced.
I believe that a good life is centered more in people than in things. It is in the blessing of being able to share life's joys and sorrows with others. And, all should know that even a good life will have its share of sorrow and difficulty. Sharing fully with family, friends, and those around us, allowing ourselves to be known by others, giving to others and receiving from them, and knowing and being satisfied with ourselves are the greatest sources of a good life.
It is not easy to measure the things that make life good but you certainly feel them. You know when you have opened yourself up to share life with those who surround you. Family, friends, and even the stranger you chance to meet become part of the framework of your good life. There is a sense of fulfillment and comfort that comes when you are part of the world around you. You feel satisfied, not because you have acquired more than others, but because you have given yourself to others and allowed others to give themselves to you.
Photo credits: Sue Sommers
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