I don’t know a single person who doesn’t dream of having a good life.
Everybody wants to live well.
But the general tendency is to think of living well as having the goodies of life – house, money, car, prestige and fame. And there is certainly nothing wrong with having these things. In fact, sometimes they even appear to save the day. Fortunately, no matter the varying opinions, ideas and viewpoints about these ‘goodies’, each of us remains responsible for the kind of relationship we have with them.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about living well because I’ve been reviewing my living arrangements, past and present, and the sorts of issues and challenges they have ushered into my path.
For the last six years, I have been a student and as a result I’ve had to share accommodation with different kinds of people. And if you have shared a house before, then you know that it’s one of the most difficult things to share. Two flatmates, for instance, can be as different from each other as night and day, having varying perceptions and ideas about how things ought to be and ought to be done. It is misunderstanding these points of differences that cause conflicts, not only in flatmate relationships but in all kinds of relationships.
Whenever I think of living well I think of how everything in my life is interacting and getting along with each other. For me, it is things like the state of my bedroom; how my receipts are stacked in my receipt box; how I’m responding to people, situations and challenges on a daily basis. In that way, to me, living well has a lot to do with order, beauty, quality, cleanliness, health, tranquillity and peace of mind, body, soul and spirit.
One of the sore issues on which I have found myself clashing with every housemate I have ever had is that of cleanliness. Not one of them agreed with me on the value of a clean, well-kempt and cosy home, at least practically they didn’t. While I have learned the all-important skill of compromise through these misunderstandings, I have also come to see that there is a tipping point; that point in life where living well absolutely cannot and should not be compromised. And here when I say ‘living well’, I’m not only referring to my super annoying to others standard of tidiness but also to those values of life that enable us to be effective and quality human beings.
Values and standards are there to frame our lives and to guide us. And living well is very much about standards.
Take cleanliness for example, most people assume that it is merely a physical trait, which is sad because it’s much more than that. It starts from the inside. When you care about something, you take care of it; when you take pride in something, you take care of it; when you appreciate something, you take care of it. And all these elements are nestled at the very centre of cleanliness. It’s about having a spirit of care, and this cannot be separated from the other parts of one’s life. This is why someone who has the proclivity to be careless will surely be careless not only in the small things but in the big things as well.
In the same way, everything you do in your life – from your work to how you think about and treat others is connected to each other and every bit of aspect flows into each other influencing how well you live your life. And this process cannot be separated from the values and standards that define you and frame your life.
So, the question I will leave you with is the same one I have been wrestling with for the last few weeks;
How far are you willing to go in your pursuit of living well?