What is a Good Life?

“Not life, but a good life, is to be chiefly valued” – Socrates

The virtues constituting a good life have been an age-long debate among philosophers. Socrates argued that a good life must be cultivated and chiefly valued. Aristotle conceived it as eudaimonia, the highest human good, the only good desirable for its own sake (as an end in itself) rather than for the sake of something else (as a means toward some other end). Generally speaking, eudaimonia is a Greek word for well-being, living well, happiness, and flourishing.
In considering a good life, here are the common themes that I believe to be the key signature of it. I will do a bit of explanation on them as we go along. Virtue, morality, meaning, authenticity, growth, skill, compassionate care, excellence, and collaboration are key signatures of a good life. These are the essential features to look out for when describing eudaimonia in Aristotle’s conceptual understanding.

Undoubtedly, everyone desires a good life or eudaimonia, but our challenge is how we might attain it without hindering the flourishing of other people around us. The point I am making is that you can achieve a good life if you focus on developing a growth plan for yourself, decide to collaborate with other people, and give a good portion of your estate for others to benefit. John Wesley beautifully summed up what the expectation of a good life should look like by saying,

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.

When you do this, you will earn your reward in a good and flourishing life. You won’t have to struggle to make ends meet. There will be an abundant flow of all the good things of this life towards you. You will simply live a happy, prosperous, and full life.

Essential Ingredients of a Good Life

Virtuousness – If you are not virtuous, you cannot be talking about goodness. You live a virtuous life by embodying good values and godly character. In the Yoruba value system, there are six virtues that every bonafide son and daughter of the cultural group pursues throughout life and prides themselves in. These six virtues are widely circulated on social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp, where I have encountered them multiple times. They are;
“Laaka’ye” is the practical application of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (Ogbon and Imo Oye).
“Iwa Omoluabi” (integrity) is when an individual shows commitment and steadfast fidelity to their words.
“Akinkanju” or “Omo Akin” (Valor/Courageous) – this is a heroic display of courage, especially during challenging times or battles.
“Aniselapa ti kii se ole” (A Diligent Worker) means you have a visible source of livelihood through a profession or job that is open and legally approved by society, not through cheating or forcefulness.
“Iyi” (Honor and Dignity) – Yoruba places a premium on people’s possession of honor and reputation in the public square. This is why Yoruba people usually say that when you set out to look for money and meet honor on the way, you don’t need the journey anymore because if you get money, you will still use it to secure the honor.
“Owo” tabi “Oro” – Money or Wealth. If you put money before the other five value systems, you are nobody in Yoruba land.

Unfortunately, western influence and colonization of African society have eroded these value systems, enthroning violence and corruption in the process. However, there is still a handful of us who still cherish and value this cultural heritage. For instance, when I was a little kid, my father filled our house with character-shaping songs with proper instructions on how to live well. My worldview was powerfully shaped by the philosophical songs of Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, especially songs like “The Adventure of Mr. Wise” and “The Donkey, the Man, and the Son.” I later also learned a lot from the songs of Evangelist Alao Adebayo Adelakun (Ayewa) and Evangelist Niyi Adedokun during my childhood.

Morality – Good sense of what is right and wrong. For some people, what they consider right today may change with time depending on the benefits they stand to enjoy from it. That is not the way to display a good life. If you want to exemplify a good life, you have to be consistent. Your morality has to be built on justice, equity, and consistency. You must show fidelity to your beliefs by being consistent under all circumstances. You must be eager to shun everything evil and embrace what is good.

Meaning – This means doing something you love, enjoy, and genuinely care about. If life does not make meaning to you, there is no way you can experience a good life. The primary reason why people go into depression is because, at a point in time in their life, life lost meaning. Life has become hopeless, and as a result, they have become helpless and passionless. “to give life a meaning, one must have a purpose larger than self” – William Durant. What is your purpose in life? What are you passionate about in life? What in life is more significant than you that you are ready to commit your life towards? That is where we derive a good life from, and that is where meaning is essential to us. Money does not bring meaning to life. You can have all the money in this world and still be miserable. The only way out of misery is to find your life’s passion.

Authenticity – This means being original, trustworthy, dependable, and vulnerable to yourself and others. Don’t be a man or woman with multiple personalities. Let people know you for who you are without shame. Don’t be a bird in the public who is ready to soar to the highest mountain but a rat in your private life. The debate whether a bat is a bird or a rat is a question of authenticity among the Yoruba cultural group. Nothing more! Demonstrate your authenticity regardless of the possible outcomes or consequences it may cause you. Don’t live your life as a chameleon who likes to go with the latest fashion and fad.

Growth – No one can experience a good life if personal growth is out of the equation. The growth we are talking about has to occur in your personal, professional, and spiritual life for a good life to be attained. The reason why we all went to school was because of the promise of a good life. However, it is essential to note that growth is not automatic; you must nurture yourself strategically and intentionally to experience the joy of growth. I have never met any man or woman unwilling to initiate personal growth who epitomize a good life; they are always stuck in the mud of mediocrity. They are content with the status quo! An average life is good enough for them.

Skill – Another requirement to experience a good life is knowledge-based skills. Many are poor not because of the scarcity of jobs but because of a lack of relevant skills. It is not enough to have talent; you must keep acquiring the right aptitude to improve your talent to excel in life. I have discovered that many people do not have a good life because they have many undeveloped skills and talents. Talent is never enough in the race for a decent and quality life. You need to upgrade yourself very frequently to stand a chance.

Excellence – This refers to striving to be the best in all your life’s endeavors—a desire to be at the pinnacle of your career or vocation and passionately working harder and smarter to be the best version of yourself. It means Continuously improving yourself to see that you are better than your previous personal best. It means you are not having a satisfying moment with yourself when you think you have arrived. It connotes embarking on an unending journey to greatness.
“Do the best you can do until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou. This quote emphasizes that you don’t have to have all the required resources to excel in life. You can always do your best, even with the fewer resources you possess. Maya Angelou counseled that you can upgrade yourself later with better information.

Compassionate care – This is marked by a genuine empathy for other people around you. Sometimes, what people need from us is not money but to be present with them during life’s most uncertain times. I am not here talking about sympathy but empathy, which is walking in another person’s shoes to know how and when it pinches. It is going the extra mile to put a smile on the faces of people around you. You are an answer to somebody’s prayer, and be glad to be that person.

Collaboration – One of the ways to have a good life is to learn how to collaborate with others to have a healthy and balanced life. When I was younger, it was challenging for me to practice. I enjoyed running a solitary life that was not in the best interest of my self-development and the people I should have cared about.
I also realized many people who suffer from depression sometimes have a problem getting along with people, as evidenced by the number of clinically depressed individuals I have worked with over the last six years. I often quarrel with my son, who doesn’t like to be inconvenienced by others, including his siblings. I am often forced to sit him down and explain why survival is hard without learning how to co-exist with people different from you.

If you desire to take your professional life to the next level of fulfillment, then plan to enroll in our Executive Wellness Leadership program or our On-site Wellness Leadership Day Program, which is a coaching program designed to help those struggling with depression, hopelessness, and meaninglessness of life in a unique transformative environment through faith-based approach intended to address the whole person – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Contact us, and an enrollment specialist will walk you through the specific program that will suit your needs.
If you are passionate about writing and understand the power to shape culture through writing, please contact us immediately, and our representatives will walk you through how you can join our team of writers at the Africana Leadership Digest.

Olusegun Osineye
Author: Olusegun Osineye

Olusegun Osineye earned his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Transformational Leadership from Boston University. He's passionate about creatively adding value to the black race by utilizing life's simple philosophy for their flourishing.

  1. I really need to sit down and read it before i share it to others because you have said it all about good life. People really work hard just to have a good life but due to some situation they find themselves they don’t have a good life , but this message will help them to balance their life. I pray that God will continue to strength you Sir. More anointing sir

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