February 4, 2012

In Search of the Good Life: Elements that Lead to Happiness. ~ Donavan Wilson

What do you hold as truly important in life? For most of us, work dominates the daily routine.

We get into our cars (or public transportation) and survive the commute. After this gauntlet, we grind it out for nine to 12 hours in cubicle land.

After work, we want to decompress from the craziness, but with no time to invest in slowing down because everyone’s working for the weekend. Yet, chores and to do lists call for our attention; the demands of which, from both work and life, catch up with us. In the age of the Internet, freedom has evolved into such a beautiful thing.

We so easily lose track of the most important values in life. How can we identify the most essential elements to lead a good life?

Happiness represents the best path to prosperity. The definitions of happiness vary from person to person. For instance, some define it as those qualities and activities that reaffirm our humanity.

The following list draws inspiration from elephant journal’s 12 Things Every Guy Should Master to Become a Real Man.

Please find below some principles to apply to the pursuit of a good and happy life:

Tranquility. Some call this “quiet mind.” Regardless, of what term you use, it connotes the absence of mental and emotional distress. Yoga practice cultivates this by focusing on the breath. Conscious attention on the breath allows individuals to calm and relax.

Some people find listening to music as a way to alleviate stress. After a hospital stay years ago, my sister actually cleaned the apartment. She swears the cleaning brought her peace. Thank goodness she prefers to pray instead.

Friendship is formed by interactions based on mutual goodwill, honesty, kindness and affection. Our lives become deplorable and insufferable without the pleasures of a social life. For without the company of friends, life becomes unbearable.

Courage, the ability to take a stand for what’s important, does not always require a physical confrontation. Raw bravery cannot always provide enough principles and convictions, which must underscore audacity. The capacity to defend our core beliefs, despite expediency or popular sentiment, makes possible our survival.

Moderation helps us as we strive to maintain that delicate balance between the essential and the purely desirable. In other words, moderation gives us the ability to prioritize between what we want and what we need, a very important principle to remember.

The Rolling Stones reminded the world about moderation, making it easy when they sang,

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you can get what you need.”

Endurance is not just about enhancing your fitness but it includes persistence in many realms. Life presents its setbacks. The challenges we face involve numerous trials. Despite the setbacks, this important principle will allow us to survive and succeed. Endurance consists of cultivating the patience and stamina with which to face life’s challenges.

Learning involves acquiring new information and skills in order to make progress. For most of us, we learn as a vital element of survival in the workplace. Also important for the progress of society, learning enhances our ability to think clearly regarding the main issues we all must face and in turn, it increases our civilization’s chances for survival. The goal of learning is to foster wisdom, stability, peace and prosperity.

Generosity includes charity, but does not always involve money. Money –while very important– doesn’t guarantee that communities can thrive based on the unselfishness of its members. True generosity also covers volunteering your time. For instance, this means providing support to a person in need, such as through mentorship, one form of generosity. The mentor and protégée both gain from their interactions.

We all want to prosper financially and professionally. The most important principles discussed here point at how we can find a good life regardless of our income.

Can we keep calm despite the chaos? Despite adversities and sorrow, a smile signifies a good life, indeed.


Edited by Andréa Balt.


Donavan Wilson is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He blogs about life and culture on Timon’s OpusYou can reach him at [email protected].



Reply to Tanya Lee Markul cancel

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Tanya Lee Markul Feb 5, 2012 9:25am

I LOVE this! The more of us who break free from the 40+ hour every week grind, will help to set others free – perhaps it will also break the chains that hold our economy into a one-dimensional plane serving only a few versus the whole. It isn't necessary to spend nearly ALL our lives maintaining a job we truly don't care about AND who says that even if we love a job that we have spend nearly all our time 'doing' it. 🙂 I hope all that made sense. THANK YOU!

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Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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