Before proceeding further, what is a single word or phrase that pertains to your opinion of a good life? I asked around, and I found limited unanimity, other than indecision.  

Some people, when asked what it means to have a good life, will reach the conclusion that either money or privilege achieves that goal. However, with all the money in the world, would that make you, as a person, mentally, physically, and emotionally content with life? Certainly, money makes life easier and happier at times, but what about the things that money can’t purchase, such as unconditional friendships, the “friendship of character,” as Aristotle would say, and more. Does that fulfill the goal of a “good life”? “Contentment” is the other word that some suggested, an inextricable ability to tell yourself, “I have enough in life; I do not need anything more or less.” This can come in a variety of ways, such as hobbies, friendships, self-growth, and more. 

Alternatively, is living a good life simply having the time necessary to do what you love? Seneca writes about the “paradox of human nature”: “people don’t let others steal their property, and they rush vigorously to defend themselves if there is even the slightest controversy over the demarcation of land boundaries, yet they allow others to trespass on their very existence…No one can be found who wants to give away his money, but among us how many does each one of us give away his life?” In other words, with our money, we can be so frugal; but with our time, why are we so liberal? Is access to time the answer to living a good life? Seneca talks about being a friend to yourself by necessitating self-growth and development. It is essential to treat time like money by allocating plenty of time for self-development but not necessarily being frugal with your time, just not too liberal.

Furthermore, there is a fine line between stepping outside of our comfort zones and staying authentic to ourselves. Ever since we were young, we were always told to step out of our comfort zones and try out new things in order to enjoy and experience life to the fullest. While there is some truth to this, I learned — and perhaps at a later age than I should have — that it is important never to let anybody or anything interfere with you and influence you to change yourself for somebody or something. We all have different DNA, and there is a reason for that. 

A reminder that you are the best you; nobody and nothing can change that. You need to be self-aware to be who you want to be and not wear a mask to change character for good whenever you need to please a boss or a lover. Remember to be self-aware and know you are the best you as it is the key to living a good life.

So what does it really take for us to say to ourselves, “I have enough in life; I do not need anything more or less?” Moreover, how do we make contentment and happiness a key, static personality in humans? I wish I could provide a simple answer, but cliches are cliches for a reason — happiness is in the eye of the beholder. There is no right or wrong answer to the question of what it means to have a good life as every individual has their own perceptions of the respective topic. The things that make you feel “content” or feel like living a “good life” may not pertain to others because, as aforementioned, no two people are identical, so it is up to you to find your inner happiness. Many factors can be considered when pondering this question, and it is totally fine to allocate as much time as needed for this very personalized process. But starting to think about what ingredients make for a good life early on and training your mind to focus on those is, to me, the right first step.