In November my grandfather, Papa, celebrated his 90th birthday. I was able to go to North Carolina to spend the weekend with our family to celebrate him and his life (so far). On Sunday we went to brunch and then back to my grandparent’s house for cake and a special video. Each of Papa’s kids and grandkids recorded a short video expressing a memory or something we learned from Papa, and then my brother Matt put all the videos together to create a mega video we could show Papa. It was really a beautiful video, Papa has 4 kids and 11 grandkids, so there were a lot of memories and a lot of kind words.
My wife and I left shortly after we finished the video so that we could get back to Nashville. As we drove home I thought about Papa’s life and how good and full it has been. How much he loved people, how he raised a big family, how he made so many lives better because he was in them. It’s clear to me that Papa has lived a good life, and it has me wondering, what makes a good life? And how can I live a good life?
Life is long and winding, and sometimes it feels like I can barely keep my head above the water, much less worry about if I’m living a good life or not. That is the question though, isn’t it? At the end of my life, whenever that may be, I want to be able to say “Yes, I lived this life well, I’m proud of the part I played in the world.”
But what does that mean?
I’m only 26 and really don’t know the answers, but I think there are some areas we can focus on to at least get on the right track to living a life that we can be proud of.
It all starts with relationships. I think that the surest way of making a positive impact in the world and finding fulfillment is investing in relationships and sharing life with other people. We are a social species, and we need to be connected to other people to find happiness. The best thing you can do on this earth is to intentionally invest in the lives of the people around you.
If you give more than you take, and you serve more than you’re served, then I think you’re on the right track to living a life you’re proud of. Not only does serving others (whether it be your family/friends or while volunteering) help the people around us, but it also will make you feel better. Your life is not meant to be all about you, get outside of your own wants and needs sometimes and connect with the needs of others.
It’s easy to not like to work and to cruise through your work day so that you can get on with the rest of your life, but that’s not a good way to live long term. Whatever you spend your days doing, be engaged with it, and give all you can to it. Every day is important, and it’s too big of a sacrifice to spent the majority of our day slugging through a job waiting for it to be over. Whatever you do, do it well.
You can have a huge impact on the people around you. The weekend I was at my grandparent’s house we went to their church on Sunday. My wife and I were talking to one of the pastors there and he told us that in all the years he had known my grandfather and grandmother, he had never heard either of them complain. Is that a life changing thing? No, but it might help a few more people complain less, and that’s a really good thing. You can show others how to live well simply by leading by example.
Yes, there are a lot of elements that go into living a good life, but I think investing in relationships, serving others, and working well are a good place to start.
I’m grateful I get to watch my grandfather and grandmother live a good life, and I hope I can do the same over many years. We all have an opportunity to live a life we’re proud of, and only you can truly know what that means to you. Whatever it is though, do whatever you can to live that life.