A central question we ask ourselves as human beings is this: What is a good life? We all want to live a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling. We all want to feel fully alive and to show up fully, authentically, and courageously in our lives and relationships. But how do we do that?

Every single day we are flooded with messages telling us how we can experience the good life. On our television sets and phones, on the internet and in our emails, on billboards and notice boards in every public space, we are given images of places, people, and things that represent the best possible human life. And we are told that we, too, can enjoy such a life if we just buy this product or follow this guru or sign up for this course or vote for this political party.

But is that really what the good life is about? Is that how you picture the good life? What do those three words mean to you: the good life?

In this episode, I want to talk about the ingredients we need if we are to create a good life for ourselves.


A few years ago I heard a story about a very wealthy man who died. As expected, his funeral was an amazing spectacle with crowds of people in attendance. When they got to the grave it was the biggest hole in the ground that anyone had ever seen. The priest explained that the reason for the size of the grave would become clear, but that it was specified in the wealthy man’s will. At that moment, a beautiful, highly polished, top-of-the-range Bentley, fitted with every imaginable luxury, drove through the crowd and down a ramp into the grave. The wealthy man was seated in the back, as he would have been in life, with his chauffeur driving. And through the windows, people could see that hundred dollar bills had been packed as tightly as possible into every available space in the car. It was the man’s final display of wealth and power. And as the car finally came to a stop in its final resting place, along with its deceased owner, someone was overheard to gasp: “Now that’s what I call living!”

Every single day we are flooded with messages telling us how we can experience the good life. On our television sets and phones, on the internet and in our emails, on billboards and notice boards in every public space, we are given images of places, people, and things that represent the best possible human life. And we are told that we, too, can enjoy such a life if we just buy this product or follow this guru or sign up for this course or vote for this political party.

But is that really what the good life is about? Is that how you picture the good life? What do those three words mean to you: the good life?

If we can break free of the marketing for a moment—we all know that having lots of money and things and fame and power is not the real recipe for meaning, fulfilment, and a sense of being vibrantly alive. Through the centuries, people have actually studied what brings about our greatest human flourishing, what truly gives us a life that we would call good. And it’s not these things. As we explored in the last episode of this podcast—and I encourage you to go back and watch or listen to it if you haven’t already—the good life is a life where we are able to live from our best selves in deep connection with others and with the world. It is a life in which we are fully awake, and in which we are able to show up and be fully present in our lives and relationships. It is far less about what we have or what goes on around us, and far more about who we are and what goes on within us.

The big question, when it comes to the good life, is this: How do we get a good life? What do we need to do to find a life that we would call good? Well, the good news is that there has been quite a bit of research in this regard, and there are some tried-and-tested practices that are most likely to lead us into our good life. We’ll go into detail about these practices in future podcasts, but for now I just want to look at them together and get an idea of what they are and how they can help us.

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So what are the practices that can help us to find our good life? I’m not going to be too specific—most of these practices can take multiple forms, and are used in different ways in different traditions or spiritual paths. And all of them can be adapted to fit what works best for you. There are certainly others, but here are five of my favourite spiritual practices for learning to show up fully, authentically, and courageously in our lives and relationships.

Firstly, we need some way to access wisdom beyond ourselves. Even the brightest and wisest of us cannot navigate the challenges and complexities of this world without learning from others. And so we need to have a conscious and consistent practice of gleaning wisdom from trusted others. These others can include both people who have walked the path ahead of us and those who are walking with us now. Our source of wisdom can be a sacred text, or classical literature, or the arts, or the life stories of significant figures from the past. Or we can find wisdom by connecting with companions whom we know personally, or contemporaries whom we know only through their books, courses, or podcasts. And of course, spiritual wisdom can be found in all sorts of places and people—not just those that are overtly religious or spiritual.

Secondly, we need some kind of ‘prayer’ or mindfulness practice. The key here is to break free of our obsession with our thoughts, perspectives, and prejudices. We need to silence the noise in our own heads and hearts enough to connect with life in a purer, less interpreted form. And we need to create a still space to receive and integrate the wisdom we gain from our trusted sources. Some practices that can help us to be more mindful include: meditation, breathing exercises, and making space—for wonder, for connecting with nature, for slowing down and just feeling our aliveness, for reflecting on our thinking, living, decision-making, and relating with others and the world.

Thirdly, rituals are profound spiritual tools that can make a huge impact on our lives. We need some way to work consistently on intentionally forming our habits and our behaviour—especially in the unguarded, automatic-reaction moments of our lives. Rituals do not have to be elaborate or complicated. They just need to help us align how we think, speak, act, and relate with the values, priorities, and meaning of the life we seek. Essentially rituals teach us how to live our good life even before it has materialised.

Fourthly, we need a way to become increasingly more self-aware. The first three practices we’ve mentioned can all help but it is all too easy to use spiritual practices in a way that allows us to avoid confronting ourselves. And so we need some way to be more purposeful in learning to see, at least a little more objectively, our light and our shadow, our strengths and our weaknesses, our gifts and our needs.

And finally—and I’ve already hinted at this many times—we need some way to nurture a clear sense of what a good life means for us. We need a vision or a picture of what we’re aiming at, what we’re trying to become, who we want to be, and what it looks like for us to show up fully, authentically and courageously. This vision is not a fixed thing that never changes. It is dynamic. It grows and changes constantly as we grow and learn and become more aware of what really does bring us a good life. We need a sense of what its means for us to be deeply connected with ourselves, others, the cosmos and God (or however we understand a Reality beyond and bigger than ourselves). We need to get an idea of what it means to be more compassionate and contributing and how these qualities can create the good life we seek.

These five things: sources of wisdom, mindfulness or prayer practices, rituals, self-awareness, and a vision of the life toward which we want to live—these are the ingredients that empower us to find the good life we long for. Which of these ingredients are you already using? Which do you need to add? What others would you add to this list? How do your spiritual practices help you in your quest fr a good life? Please share your thoughts and let me know what has helped you on your spiritual path.

In the next episode I want to explore in more detail what it means to live the connections. I’ll explore what it means to be more deeply connected with ourselves, with others, with the universe, and with God (or with a reality that is bigger than ourselves).

But that’s it for this episode. Thank you for listening. Thank you for watching. And I’ll catch you next time!

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