Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Good Life, by Hugh Mackay

This book addresses the ultimate question: What makes a life worth living? So why did I choose this book at the airport to read whilst on my way to Darwin for a 10 day holiday, because I want a good life?

Well yes I do, and I liked the back cover with its suggestive invitation that what I would gain from reading the book would be provocative. 

At the heart of the book Mackay suggests that the good life is not the sum of our wealth, security, status, postcode, career success or our level of happiness. 

But surely the good life is about happiness, well according to Mackay it is not. The good life is one that is about the quality of our relationships, our willingness to connect with others in useful ways and our capacity to be selfless. When we are selfless we are not always happy...

I am sure you can think of a time when you did something for someone that was not about your happiness, but after you gave, you felt good. The everyday altruist without any thought of a reciprocal benefit. This can mean acting in ways that are actually against your own self-interest.
So a good life can be one that is lived for others, one that contributes to others well-being, and one that is socially inclusive.

When you consider what Mackay says are the attributes of a ‘good life’, you realise that what he says does make sense because you know that the rich relationships you have with others are what is important.

The “Golden Rule” (treat others how you want to be treated) is richly explored in the book through various frames of religion, philosophy, politics, business and family life. He offers many stories of how we distract ourselves from this central principle, and how the good life is often about us choosing to restrain and restrict ourselves as a way of being balanced.

Mackay offers some easy ways for you to lead a good life, they include:

  • treating people in a respectful way by listening to them
  • being mindful in your thoughts and actions
  • apologise sincerely
  • forgive generously
  • make people laugh

If you seek a good life, I highly recommend you read this book and afterwards let’s have a conversation nicky@nickyhowe.com

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