What is the “Good Life”? Is it something we achieve when we earn a high salary, own a nice home, and drive a fancy car? Is it a condition we possess when we can wake up each morning and feel grateful for where we are and who we are? Is it a state reserved for the wealthy or the lucky few? Then again, as the word “good” implies, do we achieve the Good Life by being decent, moral people who are emotionally and spiritually fulfilled?
According to psychologist Carl Rogers, however, the Good Life is none of these things, for it is “not a fixed state like virtue, contentment, nirvana, or happiness;” neither is it “a condition like being adjusted, fulfilled, or actualized;” nor is it “a psychological state” (Chaffee, 2002, p. 525).
So, again, the question is, “What is the Good Life?” Well, as Rogers maintains, the Good Life is a process, not a state of being; a direction, not a distinction. Furthermore, “The direction which constitutes the Good Life is that which is selected by the total organism when there is freedom to move in any direction” (Chaffee, 2002, p. 525).
In other words, if we wish to obtain the Good Life, the key is found in creating ourselves “through genuinely free choices” that come only after we liberate ourselves “from external and internal constraints” (Chaffee, 2002, p. 525). In other words, only when we allow ourselves freedom from restraint (that imposed by ourselves and that imposed by others) and accept ourselves for who we are, will we at last be able to fulfill our true potential in each and every aspect of our existence.
As Albert Camus once wrote, “Freedom is a chance to be better, whereas enslavement is certainty of the worst” (Chaffee, 2002, p. 525).
Chaffee, J. (2002) Critical Thinking: Sixth Edition. Boston. Houghton Mifflin.