Living the good life

What does it mean to live a good life? Does it mean to be rich? Successful? Young? Beautiful? Or none of the above?

My mother always used to tell me to be thankful for what I have; don’t rock the boat; don’t tempt fate; and all those other platitudes that basically meant ‘know your place and stay in it’. Her generation of women were content (?) to be married and let the husband take care of everything while they raised the kids and kept house. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to do and be. That is not what I wanted, so I was constantly swimming upstream to fight for what I wanted not what society told me I wanted.

There were times when I succumbed, but just for a while. I became a nurse, which led to meeting my husband, which led to my having two wonderful sons. Nursing became merely a job, a way to bring money into the house, and I soon grew tired of being the breadwinner. But I persevered and became more and more unhappy and frustrated with my life. I was the perennial pessimist and never caught a break.

But then something changed. I divorced my husband; my kids were grown and out on their own; it was time for me. So at the age of 44, I applied for grad school, was accepted, and moved to Arizona by myself (well, except for my dog!) where I knew nobody.

Grad school was rough at first, but I was always a good student and earned my MA. But I still was a pessimist. Although I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I had been too busy trying to keep body and soul together through grad school.

Gradually, I began to realize that being a pessimist was a self-fulfilling prophecy; if I focussed on how bad things were, that’s all I would get. I don’t remember how I learned about it, but I began to keep a gratitude journal and things began to change. My focus switched to what was right in my life instead of what was wrong. And I started to get more good stuff. Not material things – but good feelings and good things happening.

So here I am several years later. Then a little over a year ago, I began a Gratitude Journal blog because I wasn’t remembering to write in my personal gratitude journal every day. I thought if I committed to a daily blog entry, I would be accountable to my followers (if I got any!) and wouldn’t give up. And I was right. I think in the course of the 13 months, more or less, I have kept the journal online, I have only forgotten maybe 2 or 3 times to post something.

Life isn’t always fantastic, but my attitude towards what happens in my life has certainly changed for the better. I am living the good life. I’m not rich. I don’t have a big house, a fancy car, and I work to earn money to pay the bills. I have friends. I have people who follow my blog because they think I have something to say worth reading.

Yes, life is good.

9 thoughts on “Living the good life

  1. My mother was frustrated that, after the freedom of the war years when she was in the army, doing a great job, she married and returned to the daily round of housework and having a child.
    She took it out on me…denigration was the name of the game…all the put downs, the undermining of confidence…
    I made a success of my working life…but not until I met the man I married did I begin to feel secure and confident….and then not always!
    I’m grateful for the good things….and these days the downside of things doesn’t hit me the way it used to do.

  2. My mom treated me the same way. And then I married a man who did the same thing. It wasn’t until after my divorce that I began to heal.

    You make a good point about the war years, though. All the women who joined the services or worked in the factories and on the farms to keep things going while the men were away had to have some sense of letdown when the men came home and wanted their jobs back.

  3. And how!
    I can understand her frustration….all the excitement, the freedom – sounds almost mad doesn’t it to think of being in the army as freedom, but it certainly felt like it to her.

  4. It was very brave of you to just pack up and move somewhere where you knew no one. Well done, I don’t think I would ever have the guts to do that! 😉

  5. You never know what you are capable of until you’re tested. I wanted the education, and my then-husband decided he didn’t want to go with me. So I left him behind. It wasn’t easy, but I still did it. 🙂

  6. I liked reading more about you, Ruth. What an amazing thing to do – starting grad school at 44! I don’t see myself as a pessimist, but I do sometimes focus too much on the struggles and not the joys. I saw my mother as very unhappy with her life, especially since it led to her having fewer and fewer choices. I’ve tried to give myself a lot of options and I hope to teach my daughter that doing things in her life that allow her to make choices will be a happier path to walk on. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Ruth, I found your blog through Denise’s.

    I love this line you wrote in this post: “Gradually, I began to realize that being a pessimist was a self-fulfilling prophecy; if I focussed on how bad things were, that’s all I would get.” That hit me between the eyes as I read it. It’s the mother of all truths. And that’s exactly my story before I entered recovery almost 7 years ago.

    I’m looking forward to joining you on the blog journey. I think I’m going to learn a lot through you. Thanks for sharing…

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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