The secret to a good life

How life works is a mystery. It will always be.

There’s no way to comprehend the unwritten laws of life entirely. Sometimes, we think we have figured it out, and then suddenly, we experience another downfall—and another. Then after such, there’s the light again. We don’t know how and why such things happen. Is it our choice? Is it destiny? Or is it a combination of both?

There’s no way of knowing.

But I’ve figured out that there are ingredients to a good life. If you listen carefully, observe in silence, and watch how your life and others move, you’ll see that life works in patterns. Everything does. Look at how the flowers bloom—the calculated petals and shapes. Notice how seasons changes, yet it follows the same formula, year after year. Observe how the grass and plants grow in a particular direction. For life to happen, it follows rules and patterns. Unwritten, subtle, and sometimes invisible to our eyes.

Pause, think about your life, and go down memory lane. Have you noticed patterns?

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

– Sherlock Holmes

Being aware that there are unwritten laws that govern life, you’ll realize that there’s a calculation to formulate a good life. Being aware of them gives you leverage to create the life you want, or at least answer the test of life and make better decisions for a life full of beauty and miracles.

In my entire existence, not so long to pass credibility but full of struggles, triumphs, and observation, I’ve noticed ways to create a good life. As you read this, you might ask me: what makes you credible then?

In a nutshell: I’m 28 years old. I’m a businesswoman with a handful of success, living an independent life in my dream city. I can work and travel anywhere in the world, whenever I want. I move with fluidity; I can do what I want whenever I fancy. My life is beautiful and stable. For some, my life is the good life. A perfect Instagram life, some would say. It is, both digitally and in reality. No pretense.

But before that, I was nothing and had nothing: no money, no career, insecurities, illnesses, year-long medications, surgeries, depression, a series of broken hearts, dealing with death, and emotional and mental breakdowns in between. It was full of pain and goodbyes.

How did I turn my life around? It’s because of these rules that life presented to me. I listen and let my decisions in life be governed by them.

Photo by Evie Shaffer:

The secret ingredients to a good life

1. Lean on to happiness and pleasure.

When making decisions, lean toward what will make you happy and give you pleasure. Easy to say than done, but every time one reaches a crossroads or a dilemma, deep down in your core, you know what will give you happiness. Most of the time, it’s a choice between an illusion we want to pursue dictated by the beliefs of the world versus what truly makes us happy. Choosing happiness is never easy. It comes with risks, uncertainty, and letting go. The road toward it is unclear. To step into it requires courage. But even before you take the step, if things work out, you know it’s the absolute happiness you’ve been wanting.

So ask yourself this: what if things work out?

2. Control what you can, then the rest leave it to trust.

To not control is against our human nature. It’s our basic instinct to control situations to survive. We want to know every detail to jump on an end goal and to see the result with so much certainty and assurance. We plan life with dreams, looking introspect if each step will lead us to the result we want.

But did life ever turn out exactly as precisely as you envisioned it? I bet not. Life surprises us. Sometimes disastrously, sometimes as a miraculous surprise.

So make decisions, do the work, control what you can, and the rest leave it to trust. But once the done is work, let it go. Trust that what’s meant for you will find you. Believe that whatever you want is yours. Even if the situation paints a tragic painting, trust that eventually, life will turn out good. Sometimes, even better than you can imagine. The space for trust is where the magic happens.

3. Listen and observe. Life is full of Easter eggs.

This is one thing I believe in: life is in your favor. It’s never against you. It always wants you to prosper. Even if our life turns into chaos, it wants us to triumph over it.

I don’t know if you believe in a Higher Power, and some would call it God or Universe, but whatever it is, Life wants you to win. If you listen carefully, it tells you what you should do. It’s the gentle voice of your soul, your instinct, the loving voice of your mother, the wise advice of your lover, a passage from the novel you’re reading, the random quote you saw on Facebook, a song lyrics that live rent free in your head, the conversation between good friends, and all the moments that made you say, “I needed to hear that.”

So listen, life can’t speak to you directly, but it’s talking to you.

4. Embrace the cycle of life.

The ultimate pattern of life is it moves in cycles. It goes up; it goes down. Death and rebirth. End and beginning. Everything leads to a new start.

Holding on to that idea, believe in hope. Your situation might scream chaos, but eventually, the cycle will flow. And every after chaos only breathes beauty. Think how the cold of winter leads to the blossom and beauty of spring, how pain leads to relief, and how rain creates a rainbow. Life doesn’t end in discomfort, always with peace.

“In time, yesterday’s red light leads us to a greenlight. All destruction eventually leads to construction, all death eventually leads to birth, all pain eventually leads to pleasure. In this life or the next, what goes down will come up.”

Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights

5. Choose you. Take care of you. Say yes to you.

I believe the ultimate test in life is our ability to choose ourselves. When we learn how to do it, after constant practice, life hands over its gift.

We’re born in this world advised to follow the rules, please, and serve. We’re born to follow the construct we call society. And the rules that go with it only serve themselves. The thing we need to learn is how to serve ourselves. As reality and society hit us, we become puppets of it: we need to work, make money, be successful, achieve this and that, be pleasing to people’s eyes and be validated. They’re not senseless pursuits. But the question is: are you doing it for yourself? Are you saying yes to yourself? Taking care of yourself because you want to? Or because you have to?

Learn to set boundaries and see how life unfolds for you when you start to learn how to say yes to yourself. People, jobs, lovers, situations, and opportunities that don’t honor them are not for you. Choosing what makes you happy and gives you pleasure, even if it’s a hard truth for others, will create a redirection of where you need to be.

I’m sharing this with you, not as a life’s playbook. But I want you to observe. Remember them, be aware of your own life, and test it yourself. See how things will turn out. And I hope one day, you’ll have your own formula for a good life.

  • Eli Harrell
    May 23, 2023Reply

    I really like the 5 ingredients you wrote about here. I’d actually love to interview you about your story and what you’ve learned.

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