Philosophers have been debating for centuries the ways for ordinary men and women to live well in the world. While every person’s journey is different, understanding yourself and your place in the world is the foundation for living a good life. “No man is an island” from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, a 1624 work by the English poet John Donne states the universal truth that people are connected to other people and dependent on other people.
“Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame”
(Alexander Pope, eighteenth century English poet)
To live a good life does not just mean just acts of kindness or generosity to others. For many who are generous are doing so not because they want to give, but because they want a reward. The act of giving has become a sale. An act of kindness to another has to be pure and from the heart.
Every individual has their own code of ethics by which they live a good life. Choose your own ethical code and follow through with what you believe makes you a decent human being. You will meet people who disagree with you. Always be considerate and easygoing, listen to what they have to say. You may learn something.
Do the right thing
Each day, do what you believe to be the right thing. Do not act superior or boast about your achievements. Whilst your actions may not include lying, stealing and other negative behavior that impacts on those around you (and on yourself) to be the best you can be you need to go further. Make positive actions rather than just avoiding negative actions. Don’t be a martyr, just be easygoing and kind.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”
It’s not enough to want and try to be kind. Did your actions actually have good results? Not every attempt to be kind will end with good results, so when things don’t work out, be willing to reconsider your actions and change them.
Be careful not to let your sense of duty, loyalty, or obligation get in the way of doing what’s right for other people. We all need to learn lessons on our own and face challenges in order to achieve or to avoid mistakes in the future. You may cover for your friends driving under the influence, so that they don’t get in trouble. The intention to help is good, but removing the consequences might cause a repeat offence with more serious outcomes.
What might seem like a good idea in your own situation might not have a very good impact on a wider group of people. Do you try your best to win for your team, or do you help your team members secure a win? If you monopolise the competition as an individual, how does this effect the team spirit? Consider the long-term impact of your decisions and what they might mean for others.