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One of my favourite comedy sitcoms from the seventies (oops, showing my age here) was ‘The Good Life’.

It was based on the story of how Tom Good (Richard Briers) on his 40th birthday decides he’s had enough of the rat race, quits his job and determines that he and his wife Barbara (Felicity Kendall) will become self-sufficient…. while continuing to live in their suburban house next door to their snobbish neighbours Margo (Penelope Keith) and Jerry Leadbetter (Paul Eddington). Margo naturally is shocked and appalled at the thought of having chickens running loose in her neighbour’s garden and let’s not mention the pig.

It was a joy to watch as Tom’s often harebrained schemes didn’t quite turn out as expected but the main message (which as a child I didn’t get at the time) was just how hard it is to swim against the tide of societal expectation, to hold firm to your values and beliefs and have the courage to lead the life you want.

Are you living the Good Life?

One thing I’ve come to appreciate especially now during the pandemic, is just how much I previously chose to conform, especially in my younger adult life, following the path often predetermined by others as to what would be best and most acceptable to them.

Is this true for you?

What if anything, have you done differently since March 2020?

Are you growing your own veggies?

Are you working from home and hoping this will become a permanent thing whether full-time or part time?

Are you spending more time appreciating the simple things; a great home cooked meal, a beautiful glass of wine, a walk in the park, time to chat to your neighbour or just to sit in the sunshine enjoying a cup of coffee?

Are you determined to hang onto what you’ve come to appreciate during the time of lockdown?

Simple pleasures add a great deal of happiness to our lives, but how often have we become caught up in our bubble of busy, rushing round trying to complete our self-imposed unrealistic to-do lists, chasing our own tail as if our lives depended on it?

New research from the University of Zurich and Radboud University in the Netherlands has revealed that these so-called hedonistic pleasures – short term items we enjoy that don’t necessarily contribute to our long-term goals are important too.

Phew, so now I don’t have to feel as guilty about enjoying buying that new outfit or indulging in dessert when out for dinner.

This is because it is our capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment that contributes to our overall level of satisfaction and happiness in life.

If living a calmer, less complicated, less materialistic and more fulfilling life feels attractive there are a number of ways to help you achieve this.

1. Tap into your core values

Try to identify those things that matter the most to you, that make you who you are. Things like integrity, authenticity, respect, kindness or compassion. Make a list and then rate yourself against each. If honesty is in your top five, how well do you live up to this value?

2. Determine your purpose

This is having the understanding that you’re living your life and doing those things that provide you with purpose and meaning It’s the WHY you’re here on this earth. Are you doing what you were born to do?

3. Give yourself permission to stick to your non-negotiables

When it comes to lifestyle, you get to choose. Making the best choice comes down to understanding what’s essential for you to function at your best, to stay healthy and be happy.

If getting enough sleep makes the difference between a great day and just getting by, what can you do to ensure you get enough good quality uninterrupted sleep?

If exercise is your thing, how do you ensure you do get the gym, park, pool or cycle track?

If healthy nutrition is on your to-do list but never quite gets attended to, what do you need to be doing differently to make sure it gets included?

If it’s a non-negotiable then stick to it!

Give yourself permission to do so. Schedule in the time to make is happen.

No excuses. No justifications. Just do it.

4. Check out the opportunity cost

With Spring just around the corner it’s time to get in early and toss out what Marie Kondo would say “no longer gives you joy.”

Unsubscribe from all those emails you never read anyway.

Practice saying no more often to events that bore you, clients who are a pain in the proverbials, and people who drain your energy.

This frees you up to say yes to what you find exciting, challenging and fun and sustains your courage to do things your way.

4. Start as you mean to finish

It’s time to draw a line in the sand. You’re ready to live the good life and that means taking action. Cultivating a good life is like putting in that veggie patch. It’s important to get the area well prepared first. Adding in some soil conditioner or manure, ensuring you’ve got good drainage and an idea of how you’re going to control for pests. Then the fun starts with selecting what you want to grow first. Happiness? Time in nature? Trust?

It’s important of course not to overcrowd those delicate seedlings. They need space and careful watering. Starting small and taking the time to establish incremental positive change will keep your garden healthy, productive and sustainable.

My new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is being published on August 1st. If you’re ready to overcome the demands of our modern life that often leave us feeling overwhelmed and burnt out this book reveals how to reset your operating system to embrace what’s possible for you. Available from Booktopia, Amazon, Kindle and all good book retailers.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, keynote speaker and best-selling author. You can now pre-order her new book ‘The Natural Advantage’ due for publication in October 2024.

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