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.


Abundance. What is it and how can we get it?

Abundance is defined as a very plentiful or more than sufficient quantity; overflowing fullness; affluence or wealth. I like the thought that is is a plentiful or overflowing fullness. We all have an abundance of something. I like to think I have enough of everything.

There was a time when I focused only on what I didn’t have; I was very unhappy. I would look at other people and wish I had what they had, whether it was a new car, a big house, more than enough money, or just plain being happy. Over the years, I came to the realization that I was just making myself miserable by comparing my life to anyone else’s. I used to be resentful when someone else got their dream job, their perfect mate, a beautiful home.

Eventually I realized I was making myself ill with resentment, literally. I suffered severe depression as a young adult.

Over a period of time, I changed my attitude. It didn’t happen overnight; I didn’t wake up one morning with a new way of thinking. And there are still times when I catch myself feeling a little bit jealous. But I have discovered I am genuinely happy when good things happen to my friends. And even though times are hard, I have enough money to pay for what I need. I am content with my life.

I have been called a ‘pollyanna’ by some who don’t understand that a positive attitude can make all the difference to how your day goes. Bad things still happen: I have car problems; things go wrong at work or at home; but I don’t wallow in what I call the ‘why me?’ frame of mind as I once used to do. My car breaks down? At least I have a car. Someone at work does something stupid? At least I have a job. Something breaks down at home? At least I have a place to live.

I have dear friends in my life, a partner to share my life with, and two furry children who make me laugh.

I feel so blessed to have such abundance in my life.