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Different people across the globe have diverse definitions of what constitutes a good life. It is apparent that individuals living in Western countries associate a good life to a high social class. The implication of the definition is that rich people are happier than poor people. For specific individuals like Mother Theresa, a good life entails taking care of sick patients suffering from AIDS, leprosy and other diseases. Even though she lived in a poverty-stricken world, Mother Theresa was happy because she was taking care of the underprivileged in society. A chief of a certain tribe in the Amazon will also give a different definition to what a good life is. To the chief, the availability of sufficient food for the villagers and a favorable weather are the proper definitions of a good life (Patenttranslator, 2013). However, I have a different perception towards the characteristics of a good life. According to my perspective, having a stable source of income after completing my studies that will enable me to take care of my needs and wants as well as living harmoniously with my neighbors, are the central features of a good life.

I have also recognized contributing positively to the community by helping the needy and engaging in sustainability endeavors as the other fundamental defining elements of a good life. I have come to realize that the drivers that influence happiness change as an individual transitions from one life stage to the other. As a result, the preferences of children are different from adult inclinations with regard to what a good life entails. For instance, taking care of pets used to be my happiest moments when I was a toddler. However, priorities have significantly changed. Of late, I consider financial sustainability and the ability to help my family, friends, and the community in general to be the determinants of my happiness and a good life.

Over the years, my definitions of a good life have changed significantly. At the onset, I referred to Aristotle’s argument of the elements of a good life and living well. According to Aristotle, what an individual regards as elements of a good life lie in three aspects. Bodily goods suffice to be the first aspect. These constitute bodily desires such as vitality, pleasure, vigor, and health. Aristotle also identified wealth or external goods to be the second category of goods that define a good life. These constitute shelter, food, drink, sleep, and clothing. According to Aristotle, there is a limited supply or availability of the first two categories of goods. Aristotle also identified the third category of goods that comprise of goods of the soul such as friendship, skill, love, knowledge, self-esteem, honor, and aesthetic enjoyment (Messerly, 2013).

In my opinion and with regard to Aristotle’s definitions of the elements of a good life, there are a number of things that I can improve on in order to live a sustainable life. Most of the elements of good life that I can adjust fall under goods of the soul. For instance, in order to live a sustainable life, I will limit my involvement in consumerism. I can equate consumerism to a false notion of livelihood taught to the public by the media that purchasing more products is better than few products since it attracts discounts, gifts, and other prices. In order to live a sustainable life, I will ensure that I restrict my expenditure to what is necessary. I will also improve on energy consumption by purchasing electric appliances that consume less energy. Rather than using machines to wash clothes, clean the house, wash utensils among other basic household chores, I will resort to doing the work personally as a way of conserving the energy. To attain both wellbeing and sustainability, I will also adopt cleaner modes of transport to work and other destinations such as cycling and the use of buses for long-destination journeys. The objective would be to reduce the environmental carbon footprint. Finally, I would also reduce my waste streams by adopting an efficient strategy of using water.

In relation to Aristotle’s defining elements of a good life, I have noted significant differences in the third aspect that comprises the goods of the soul. As mentioned before, such goods concentrate on the sustainability and wellbeing of other individuals, the community, and the environment in general. One of the differences that I noted was the fact that the elements of a good life that I regarded in part 1 are short-lived whereas the “soul goods” mentioned by Aristotle are long-lasting. Even though many people tend to pursue selfish desires such as individual wealth and happiness (Howell, 2013), they end up feeling dissatisfied with the individual pleasures eventually. As a result, it is of paramount significance to embrace behaviors and traits that would guarantee long-term happiness thereby guaranteeing a happy life.

As I had mentioned before, having a stable source of income was very important to my life as one of the central pillars of happiness. However, I have learnt that it is necessary to transform my behaviors to attain perpetual happiness. In order to transform my attitude towards embracing good behaviors, Aristotle heightens the essence of developing a good moral character (Dworkin, 2011). The character develops a bridge between selfish desires and the urge to serve the community and live a healthy, happy and sustainable life. The basis of a good moral character is the development of good moral habits. I am certain that I will engage in the sustainable life activities mentioned in part 2 above if I begin meditating on the adverse effects of engaging in bad habits. By so doing, I would be able to perform the sustainable activities with little or no effort at all.

I believe that I would adopt the desired excellences or virtues and stop wasting resources unnecessarily. From the comparison that I have made between my earlier perception of a good life and what I should engage in to live a sustainable and happy life, I have also noted excessive discrepancy in terms of the definition of a good life. Initially, I considered good life to be the earthly materialistic desires that would improve my financial position and material wealth. However, the motivation behind a sustainable and happy life is a life that contributes positively to all elements of the ecosystem: the community, the environment, and I (Clemens, 2008). On the part of the community, I should engage in sustainable life activities such as conserving energy to ensure that there is sufficient energy to cater for the energy demands of the other people in the community. Using buses for long-distance journeys and cycling among other clean and less harmful modes of transport reduce the environmental carbon footprint thereby contributing to the conservation of the environment. The activities would also make me feel happy by implying that I play a significant role in the society.

Even though the comparison between my perception of a good life and the ideal definition of a good life reveals significant differences, I have also noted particular similarities between the two perceptions. For instance, I had stated earlier that I would have good life if I would be able to attain the desired levels of psychological health and life satisfaction. The difference only lies in specific life activities that lead to achieving life satisfaction and good mental health.


Clemens, P. (2008). What Makes a Good Life? TheChangeBlog. Retrieved from: http://www.thechangeblog.com/a-good-life/

Dworkin, R. (2011). What is a Good Life? The New York Review of Books. Retrieved from: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/02/10/what-good-life/

Howell, R. T. (2013). How Do People Define the “Good Life”? Psychology Today. Retrieved from :< https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cant-buy-happiness/201308/how-do-people-define-the-good-life>

Messerly, J. (2013). The Meaning of Life: Aristotle on the Good Life. Retrieved from: http://reasonandmeaning.com/2013/12/19/aristotle-on-the-good-and-meaningful-life/

Patenttranslator. (2013). What Do The Words “Living The Good Life” Mean To You? Retrieved from: https://patenttranslator.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/what-do-the-words-living-the-good-life-mean-to-you/