The Good Life

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In every stage of human development, people have expressed themselves in unique ways. Most have been beneficial, in that they either solved problems through invention or created art for others to enjoy. The way people express themselves is completely diverse, but if they are content with their accomplishments, then they can claim they are truly living the “good life”. It is important for people to understand the denotation and connotation of the phrase “the good life” so that they can attempt to improve their own lives by modeling the general philosophy. I define the “good life” as the achievement of true happiness through personal creativity. Happiness, according to most people, is considered the perfect state of being, and it is rather difficult to reach.


One distinct aspect of people living the “good life” is the constant desire for knowledge. These people want to understand our world, so they constantly yearn to learn. Thousands of mysteries remain unsolved, and there are so many interesting concepts scientists need to understand before they can begin exploring for answers. Five hundred years ago people believed that the earth was the center of the solar system. Today, not only have we accurately disproved this theory, we have discovered and begun to understand black holes, one of the most complex phenomena of the universe. However, today an indeterminable number of unanswered questions still remain. In another five hundred years, people of the future may completely understand the black hole, and perhaps consider it a simple object to understand. Another reason why some people want to learn all that they can is so that they have a solid chance of making discoveries of their own in the future. The more people learn about what is known, the closer they are to understanding what has never been known before. The better a doctor understands the field of medical research, the closer he could be to finding the cure for cancer. Independent of the level of importance, discovery in general is something from which we as humans derive great pleasure. Mihaly Csikzentmihayli, author of “Happiness and Creativity”, believes “[e]volution may have given us such a program” (8). He hypothesizes that our ability to take pleasure from discovery is genetic. This gene, supposing it exists, has been crucial in the advancement of the human race since it motivates us to innovate. Clearly, the constant desire for knowledge is an important trait to possess, in order to live the “good life”.

In order to live the “good life” people also need to be able to appreciate beauty. Nature is extremely fascinating. The mechanisms that organisms use to function are inexplicably complicated, and it is mind-boggling to imagine how they might work. The formation of a human child is unbelievably successful when considering the complexity of the process. So many tiny yet critical details are involved in the development of a fetus into a healthy baby, and most of the time a healthy baby is delivered. Most scientists cannot explain nature’s consistency, and it is this mystery that makes nature so interesting. Humans are responsible for many beautiful aspects of our world as well. Music, art, and literature are all human creations that stimulate the soul. Csikszentmihalyi notes how Aristotle once said “[h]appiness is an expression of the soul in considered actions”. Artists pour their hearts into their paintings, and many people appreciate their work for its stunning beauty. Most of these people may have tried painting before, so they understand the amount of time, patience, and most of all skill that is required to make them. The construction of other art forms requires equal levels of concentration. In any case, if a person can genuinely appreciate beauty then that person is on track to living the “good life”.

The final requirement needed for an individual to live the “good life” is creativity in his work. Assuming that a person’s profession is work that they truly enjoy, this should be the area of his life where he uses his critical thinking skills. It is vital for a scientist to branch off from the traditional way of thinking if he wants have a chance at making a discovery. If he were to continue to follow the ideas of other scientists, then he most likely would not achieve much. It is much easier to work with your own idea than somebody else’s, because you know each individual detail of yours while another’s idea might not make complete sense to you. However people do not necessarily have to be making scientific breakthroughs to be creative in their work. Sports writers, for example, don’t change lives with each article they write, but many enjoy the art of writing. To be happy, people must find pleasure in their work. According to Csikszentmihalyi, “[c]reative persons … all love what they do” (8). If a person dislikes their job, then they suffer almost every single day of the year, and it is impossible to be happy if they continue to live this way.

The “good life”, as a concept, is difficult to define. Some people define the “good life” as one where reward without effort is welcomed. It is an important lesson to learn that true happiness does not necessarily come from being wealthy. I define the good life as the achievement of true happiness through personal creativity. Most people agree that in order to be living the “good life” people have to be happy, but what differs is the way a person would achieve this perfect state. Realizing the value of originality in work is key to enjoying life the right way. There are so many interesting ideas to be understood and so many mysteries to be solved that it is almost pathetic that people would even consider becoming, for instance, a game show host. A life where people depend on money for enjoyment should not be desirable, but this is the idea that has been beaten into the mind of the public from the moment they could communicate with others. The true path to enlightenment lies in enriching the soul, and it is important that people follow their instinct towards the “good life”.





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jenny123 said...
Oct. 13, 2008 at 9:44 pm
this is a wonderful essay and should get many votes!
 
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