February 26, 2017

Defining Living Well

I wrote about living well last time, but what does it mean to live well? How do we define it?

Some might get really specific at this point and start listing things that you must do if you wish to be defined as living well. Such lists are very popular on the Interwebs and in magazines. "Ten traits of highly successful people!" And that's fine, but what if you can't do all ten of those things? Are you a failure? There will always be people with greater and lesser talents than you. There are some people who you will just never be able to be as good as and others who will never be able to be as good as you. I'm sure that we could declare this to be unfair, but it's reality, so we're better served accepting it and then figuring out how to proceed on from there.

So if living well isn't a clickbait article full of do's and don't's, then what is it? I have arrived at a conclusion about that, after living 50 years on this earth. I've made mistakes and I've made some amazing decisions. I've done very good things and very foolish things. I absolutely do not know everything, yet I've collected a little wisdom as I've proceeded through life. I understand that the world likes to use wealth and popularity to rank people and that we cannot change that. But we don't have to use the world's scorecard. I like having enough financial resources to provide for my family and enjoy having friends and family that love me and co-workers who respect me, but I'm not rich and I'm not famous. With all of that being true, I believe that I am living well.

I believe that living well is doing the best you can in every area of your life, utilizing what you have and what you know.

Living well is not an excuse to slack off and seek the easy path through life. Rather it is an understanding that we are all different and all have different talents and abilities. But when we optimize our skills, taking each talent to the upper end of our ability in that realm, then we are doing the best that we can. It doesn't matter how much talent the next person has, only that you are using everything that you have. I find one of the saddest statements in this life to be "They had so much potential!" In my experience, those with great potential, those who find that things come easily for them, are the most likely to squander that potential and do very little with it. Those who are not naturally talented in an area, yet determinedly work at that skill set often exceed the talented ones in achievement. Certainly the talented ones would do far better if they applied themselves, but they often don't and so fall behind and are exceeded by the determined.

I have often told my congregation that while I do not expect them to be perfect, I do expect them to be better than they were last year. This seems to have come straight from my sub-conscious, because that's a perfect way to strive to live well. Furthermore, the nice thing about living well is that it is always possible to live not only well, but even better as we learn and improve in the different areas of our lives.

Tags: Writings Living Well Personal