A Simple Secret to the Good Life


Ironically, the simplest route to the good life is through a cliche.

How silly is that? Creating the good life should be a breeze. We are intelligent. We have power. We have resources. For starters, we have money. We can buy the good life.

We all watch television. The formula is simple: work long hard hours, earn plenty of money, then buy the good life at your local big-box store. The timing can be tricky, but you can even out the cash flow with some credit.

Of course, stuff happens: lay-offs, divorces, medical bills. Our loans officer though, is always there to help us out with more credit. Thank goodness for compassion. And when our debt erodes our disposable income, well, we have consolidation loans. Life is good, right?

But in the event that doesn’t quite do it for you — if your great American dream has been repossessed — there is another route to the good life.

The best things in life are free

Yup — the best things in life are free. Ah, the simple life. Can trite be true though? One thing is certain: free, is always worth looking into.

Nothing of course is 100% free. Everything has its price. Fortunately, you can purchase a truckload of pure enjoyment with little more than your time and attention.

We know that our consumerism is not sustainable, nor are the satisfactions we gain from it. Buying the good life is like doing drugs: you need progressively bigger hits to maintain the buzz, while debt quietly deadens your spirit. Have we not had enough of that?

This might be going out on a limb, but think back to when you were a child. Take a breath, and allow some of your finer, pleasurable memories, to surface. Remember those times when you smiled from your heart, when you experienced awe, when you enjoyed simple friendship and laughed through teary eyes?

Those moments in your childhood were the good life — they were some of the best things in life — and they were free.

Those moments are still inside of you. Better yet, you get to pass moments like that on to your children if you have any. And if you don’t have children, well, you get to share them with your partner and good friends.

The best things in life list

  • Walking under the magic light of sunrise or sunset. It doesn’t matter where.
  • Watching your child sleep.
  • Sipping coffee in the garden with someone you love.
  • Tenting by a river.
  • Playing music with friends.
  • Learning to meditate.
  • Going for a walk in the rain — on purpose.
  • Building forever memories in your children by being in nature with them.
  • Doing a backpacking or canoe trip.
  • Enjoying a salad of fresh lettuce and tomatoes from your garden, still warm from the sun.
  • Exploring Tai Chi, Chi Gung, or Yoga.
  • Taking time out for yourself, by yourself, to think about life.
  • Going for a run at dawn.
  • Having pride in creating something of beauty and value, with your hands.
  • Taking a bicycle trip.
  • Simply enjoying being in your body while you work or exercise.

Well that’s just a short list of free, or almost free, ways for you to enjoy some of the best that life offers. They are a direct path to a truly good life.

When we handle money with respect we can enjoy our wealth and improve our world with it, but most wealthy people that are also truly happy, have a strong foundation in simple pleasures. And for those of us that are not wealthy, we can be every bit as happy — perhaps more — for free.

Over to you now.

4 thoughts on “A Simple Secret to the Good Life

  1. Loraleigh Vance

    Hi John,
    Great article!
    I love your sense of humor. I also appreciate and am in total agreement with your point. The best things in life are free.

    A few of the things that I love: curling up with a good book, slowly savoring a piece of good chocolate (hell, who am I kidding – ALL chocolate is good) or watching the dogs play at the doggie park.

    There is so much to enjoy in life when we just stop to notice.

    All my best

  2. John R. Post author

    Hi Loraleigh,

    Thanks. I love your list, especially the chocolate part. I have recently discovered the pleasure of 85% dark chocolate 🙂

    And you are right — we have to stop to notice that good things to enjoy are all around us.

    I had a peek at your site and I like it. I’m going to dive in and read more later.


  3. gayle rush

    i am in a very compatible, loving, respectful relationship. we communicate well, can usually solve the things that pop up by talking it out, share the work well, loving and gernerous with lovemaking HOWEVER yesterday i had an AH HA moment. if i have a qualm that is bothersome and of value, and i try to discuss it, I am met with an invalidation of my problem. i.e.: if bob is sitting in his chair, looking bored, depressed, not happy, non-communicative, except to our cat, if I say Hey babe, what do you think about a walk, or we can do this or that, or you can do this or that, I am rewarded with 1. what, do you want to get rid of me? (puffy chest) 2. why do you ALWAYS (or NEVER) do this or that 3. tells me i am wrong in my assesment, regardless of the fact that it is obvious. The escalation that follows is an invalidation of my asesment…. the invalidation is what i do not know how to make him understand !! is there some way to deal with this invalidation? there is no emotional or physical abuse in our relationship, with this one exception but it doesn’t mean it isn’t important to my feelings and to our continuing togetherness. he doesn’t understand the words i use to try to explain it so that we can eradicate it. would you have any thoughts on this? thanking you in advance, I am sincerely yours, gayle rush

  4. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hello Gayle,

    I have been where your partner is; that place where you know you are suffering from a problem that is diminishing your life, but you are unable to own your issues enough to take corrective action. This is a difficult place for him to be in, and for you to witness and try to cope with. I have also been where you are, as the person who is trying to effect change. Some understanding goes a long way in this.

    His unconscious strategy is to:

    1. Defend: He knows all too well that he has a problem. Maybe he is suffering from clinical depression, or perhaps he is under stress that he can’t handle. Rather than admit he is having difficulties, he becomes annoyed and irritated by the painful reminder (from you) that he needs to do something about it.
    2. Redirect: He realizes that his annoyance at your suggestions are unfounded, so he creates a rationalization to support that, by redirecting the problem onto you; i.e. “why do you always do this to me.” In other words, “it must be your issue and not mine.”
    3. Deny: When you reject his redirection, the only options left to him are to either backtrack and own it, or to deny the issue exists at all. Denial is the easier of the two choices.

    His first reaction to defend, is the key to understand how you might change things. He defends because he is super-sensitive to the issue and is not consciously ready to change. Your solution might be to alter how you approach this with him. Instead of suggesting to him what you think he should do, as if you are giving him advice, try reframing it in a way where he feels that he is doing something to help you instead of it helping him. That way, you can get him to do the same activities that you think might help, without triggering his defensive reaction. The activity then, perhaps a walk with you because he thinks you need this, will unconsciously help him and bypass his defensiveness.

    Sometimes we need to be less direct to effect change. If you can’t get in the front door, then try the back door 🙂


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