I’ve been reading a fabulous book called The Good Life by Hugh Mackay, and the theme is really relevant to Lifestyle Fifty which of course is all about The Art of Ageing and living the good life, offering tips about how to live life to the fullest as we get older.
Do we live life to the fullest?
But deep down I keep wondering what is the Good Life at the heart of the idea? How do we really make sure we live life to the fullest?
I’m always asking myself these questions because I know that the good life, or living life to the fullest is not all about acquiring stuff, keeping fit, looking good, and indulging ourselves, just because we can.
There has to be more to it than that.
Are Baby Boomers the lucky generation?
If we are looking for meaning about the Good Life, and how to live life to the fullest, then I think as Hugh Mackay says we need to look at the significant stimuli and pressures on our generation that have shaped our ideas about this topic.
On the surface it would appear that we baby boomers seem to have had an easier passage through life than our parents.
Some say we’ve had it too easy.
But now as we look ahead to our old age we are told that we have reached a time when we are entitled to ‘The Good Life’, and we must live life to the fullest before it’s too late.
But the good life suddenly doesn’t look that good.
To the previous generation at least, this idea probably seems a little churlish.
After all, we haven’t lived through world wars, or great depressions, and we’ve had no devastating plagues, so we’ve had a good life and need expect no more of it at retirement!
The Age of Aquarius and all that
Yet like all generations baby boomers have had challenges, most notably cultural, technological and economic, which we’ve had to adapt and adopt in equal measure.
We’ve also been led to believe that the good life is about how much money we earn, the house we live in, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, how much (great) sex we have, and travel.
Me Me Me and more Brand Me
But in reality, our generation has been all about Me Me Me, and it’s all been about how fast we can climb to the top of our self imposed hills to find our pot of gold.
Perhaps this is also because we’ve been fed the idea that perfection is possible.Personal Brand Marketing
Glitz and joy are touted as the values of the day. Status symbols and online bragging are encouraged.
During our life time, especially in the western world, we’ve developed an childlike dependency on things being sorted out for us, for governments to fix things and banks to lend us money,
Is this it? We sometimes ask.
After bringing up children or having demanding careers, we reach the 50 something years and become aware of a nagging anxiety, even a sense of being unfulfilled.
Our life is not empty by any means, and we fill it adequately enough, but somehow it’s lacking, and there feels to be something deeply unsatisfying about the future as if there’s a hollow that needs to be filled.
The next big thing
In our earlier years many of us were fortunate to always be moving onto the next big thing. Looking forward to the next stage with a sense of anticipation.
There was always something happening, or about to happen in our lives from leaving home, to getting a job, falling in love, getting married, moving into a first flat and so on and so on.
But when we get to the top of our self imposed hills, and can’t find the pot of gold, we look around and ask: “Is this it then?”
Because our generation has mostly been focussed on having fun, acquiring stuff, trying not to age, and having a good time, I wonder as we get older is this enough?
In reality I believe that the secret to the good life, and living life to the fullest is about much more than this.
What do you think?
Credit and Thanks: In writing this post I’ve put my spin on ideas and social observations made by Hugh Mackay in his thought provoking book The Good Life, What Makes A Life Worth Living. It’s definitely worth reading.
Buy The Book
Buy The Good Life here if you live in Australia
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Hey Jo, being happy with what we have is the key. Because what we have or don’t have can change in an instant. You write well. Thankyou.
Thank you BJM 🙂
Life Images by Jill
Fabulous post Jo and much to think about and mull over. I agree that Facebook, and blogging to some extent is often geared around wanting more likes, being popular, being seen. But do we really need it to feel fulfilled. I think fulfillment is something that is up to each and every one of us, and can’t be got from others. I am intrigued to read the book and might ask for it at my local library.
I think that as long as we are enjoying life, we are living the good life. And I think each of us has our own definition of it. Enjoyed reading your post.
stoppig via Lovin’Life
Thank you Suzy 🙂
Terrific post Jo! I love your comment about some people feeling that their lives are not empty but lacking. Rather than filling the void with work, money, or possessions, we all need to pursue a deeper engagement with our own lives by identifying those things that truly give our life meaning. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model is also very helpful in exploring this further – Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment. A nice framework for considering a more authentic existence!
Hi Jo, oh I haven’t heard of Martin Seligman’s PERMA model – I shall investigate. Thank you 🙂
For me living life to the fullest probably comes down to individual decisions we make – ultimately constituting whatever our life ends up being and it’s about making decisions consistent with our values, goals and dreams. (As you know, I just pulled the pin on part of my o/s holiday and – though it’s disappointing – in terms of my values, being responsible in a professional sense is important and so it was something I was willing to do and I feel better about myself having done it!)
Yes, that’s definitely a considered take on what living the full life is individually Deb. I do think though that also we need to re-evalue what our values, goals and dreams are as we get older. And I totally agree about changing your holiday plans to be able to live with your professional persona.
Alison Hop Hing
“Because our generation has mostly been focussed on having fun, acquiring stuff, trying not to age, and having a good time, I wonder as we get older is this enough?
In reality I put it out there that the secret to the good life, and living life to the fullest is about much more than this.”
“Our life is not empty by any means, and we fill it adequately enough, but somehow it’s lacking, and there feels to be something deeply unsatisfying about the future as if there’s a hollow that needs to be filled.”
There is much more to life than acquiring “stuff” and having a good time. We are spiritual beings. I’ve lived through terrible tragedy in my life which, through the grace of God, I have been able to come to terms with. To quote Pascal “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”
Hi Alison, yes there is so much more to life than stuff, material possessions and having a good time. I do agree that we are spiritual beings. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had to live through terrible tragedy x
Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
I think I need that book. In fact, I just did an order through Book Depository yesterday. Wish I’d read this post then! #teamlovinlife
Oh dear Leanne 🙁 Oh well, next time – or maybe at a second hand store you’ll find it when browsing.
Natalie @ Be Kind 2 You
I have grown more than ever over the past 4 years and now my life is more than I ever dreamed. I love who I am and what I have become and I am always sharing my true self with the world.
I think that’s absolutely wonderful Natalie 🙂 Go you!
I love Hugh McKay’s work so really must dig this out. I was thinking about a lot of this only the other day. We were talking about how somehow the things we felt were important enough to fight for and stand up for back in the mid 80s have somehow been watered down to the capitalist reality that we now have. I’ve found that as I’m getting older I’m shedding some of those trappings & coming back to my core beliefs. Swings and roundabouts. Great post, by the way.
Thanks Jo, and thanks for your insightful comments to add to the conversation 🙂
Thanks for bringing this question up for discussion with the group at #MLSTL. My blog started from the very thing you are talking about–living my life looking for the next big accomplishment and then suddenly reaching the point where I wasn’t sure what was next and asking myself, “So what? Now what? I don’t regret the life I’ve lived so far or the things I’ve done, but I am ready to look a little deeper and give a broader meaning to the best life possible.
Hi Christie, it’s funny how many of us started blogging from that vantage point, of asking ‘now what?’ Thanks for your validation today 🙂
Oh yes indeed. The pursuit of happiness! It can mean different things to different people, but unfortunately for some there isn’t enough and they become bitter and disenchanted. I used to be very materialistic and competitive, however as I’ve become older and wiser I no longer wish to compete in the rat race. I love my more peaceful and frugal life. I much prefer experiences over belongings these days, obviously because of my love of travelling! #TeamLovinLife
Love the points you’ve made here Kathy 🙂
Sounds like such a thought provoking read!! I don’t think any generation has it easy–we all deal with life to the extent of their are challenges and ups & downs!! But it’s certainly important to enjoy each day and count our blessings!!
The book is truly thought provoking Jodie. Yes, counting our blessings is definitely a part of living the good life, I agree 🙂
Jo, I think living the good life means different things to different people. I was living what I considered the good life, happy, content, but now that husband has cancer not sure what a good life is right now. I think sometimes we are living the good life and don’t realize it until it is taken away.
Oh Victoria, I’m so sorry. Yes, absolutely understand how any ideas about what is a good life would change under those circumstances. Your comment moved me so much that this morning when the sun was out, I thought of you. I took my hubby out for a walk and told him how much I love the simple things in life we do together. Thank you. I wish you much strength, and I hope that you are able do some fun things, still, with your husband together xxx
I’m still learning to live life to the fullest and learning more each day that it’s not about what I not so affectionately call STUFF. The best date night I had with the hubs recently was dinner in, a shared bottle of wine, and taking turns calling out songs for our Echo Dot to play. THAT is living life to the fullest in my world!
Ahh, love that Kim. Yes, I think those kind of date nights in are the best, and truly living the good life!
I will definitely pin this to my #MLSTL board for future reference, as there is far too much to digest in a single sitting 🙂
For me, I think living the good life is to cultivate contentment. To learn to be grateful for what I have and who I am. I need to stop looking for validation from others and instead be satisfied with my life – just the way it is.
I think that society and the media scream more, more, more! But I’m just not interested in listening to it. I keep thinking less, less, less these days. Less clutter, less drama, less commitments, less busyness. I want a simple and content life – and when you have that it makes these Midlife years really sweet and sets us up for retirement and old age (and living on less income).
Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
Hi Leanne, you are so right. The mid life years should be the time we think less rather than more. It should be a mindset, a habit, that sets us up for retirement years.
Boo! I wrote the longest comment and then a pop up came and I lost it.
I met Hugh Mackay quite a while back and have always followed his work and ‘take’ on life is something I know well. He is a great observer of people.
I am a baby boomer and pleased to be. I know I benefitted from an education to tertiary level as well as a career path of permanency in school education. It is not like that these days for many so I understand it well.
I wish I had been more proactive with my superannuation but I listened to my accountant father way back in my early married years and took myself out of super as a wife of another teacher I was entitled to do so. My regret is that when I tried to return many years later I was prevented.
All that aside I think for me ageing is really interesting…as I am a 68 year old with a father going well at 94.5 and I still think he wants to parent me…I resist all I can!
Denyse X from #MLSTL
Love that line about your father. I am 56 with a 98-year-old mother. My husband and I live with her as I’m her primary “care-taker” and it’s in quotes because she’s just as much a parent now as she used to be. Imagine at 56 being asked where you are going and what time you’ll be home and then being scolded for going out to meet my girlfriends and leaving my husband at home. I let her feel like she’s in charge.
I love that Jennifer! I know, people say you become the child as parents age, but like you, my Mum is still very much in charge of me, despite the fact that she’s not so independent these days.
Hi Denyse, I’m so sorry you lost your longer comment due to a pop up 🙁 But this comment is just wonderful anyway 🙂 It seems so wrong that superannuation rules can be so predictive, and only too well do I understand how decisions we make with the information we have available at the time may not be right for us 20 or 30 years down the line. I did giggle about you and your father! My mum is 89 and she is still very much my parent and I still live wanting to please her.
Hi, Jo – My thoughts echo those of Linda and Sue. Self-control, self-respect and self-satisfaction go hand-in-hand. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.
Hi Donna, thank you and thanks too for your thoughts on this topic.
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
Hi Jo, both you and Linda have summed it up perfectly in your comments and response. Sometimes I think that we spend so much time ‘looking for the good life’ that we forget to live and be happy in the moment. The good life is different for everyone but basically material possession, whilst they make us comfortable are not what life is all about. The Good Life to me is living a life that brings me peace, happiness and contentment, even if that means just sitting in the sun and appreciating life. Thanks for a beautifully written and thought provoking article. Great to have you as part of #MLSTL. Enjoy!
Hi Sue, thanks for your lovely additional comments to this post. Yes, I absolutely agree with you there 🙂
You hit the nail on the head here:
“the deepest sense of satisfaction is garnered from self respect based on self control”
Self control equates to discipline and it is only from self-discipline that we get the 80% of our lives done by “showing up” to the things we DEEP DOWN want to achieve or accomplish, which are often hard bloody work, yet are the bits the outside world never gets to see –
That’s where the Good Life lies 😀
Well said, Linda 🙂 Those bits the outside world doesn’t see, add up to to inner accomplishment and satisfaction too – they’re the things we don’t shout about or promote widely to all and sundry. The Good Life seems for me to lie in between self discipline, accomplishment, and giving of oneself both to others and projects.