Designing a Well-Lived Life

By guest editor Leo Babauta

It’s the perfect time of the year to reflect on what a well-lived life might be for you. And then start designing that life, mapping out some actions you might take to create it.

What does a well-lived life mean to you? Is it necessary to shoot for some grand life purpose in order to live life well? Is living a well-lived life about maximizing pleasures and luxuries?

Or can we live well and find contentment no matter what we’re doing?

I’m a fan of going whole-heartedly after a life mission myself, but I don’t think everyone needs one. You can find contentment working in your garden, reading a good novel, being with your kids, having a meal with friends. You can find contentment doing the work you already do.

I’m a fan of exploring the world, but you don’t need to travel or rack up incredible life experiences in order to live well. You can explore the world right where you are, going deeper instead of wider, learning and connecting to others and finding meaning in whatever you do.

For me, a well-lived life might mean that we work towards:

  • Creating mindfulness in your life, and learning to be more present
  • Finding compassion for yourself, and learning to love yourself more
  • Creating deeper connections to other people
  • Connecting your daily actions to meaning
  • Creating wellness

But as we work towards these, we can find beauty and joy right now, in who we are, in what we’re doing. There isn’t a magical destination in the future where things are better. It’s always pretty much as good as it is right now — if we don’t like this moment, it’s because we’re selectively seeing the parts we don’t like. Instead, we can learn to appreciate everything (even the parts we don’t like) and find the wonder in each moment.

I encourage you to spend some time this week thinking about what a well-lived life means for you — perhaps go for a walk, even in the cold, and contemplate what that might look like. The cold, I’ve found, is something we shrink from … but I now see it as a gift, reminding us we’re alive, helping us to eliminate frivolities and figure out what’s essential. When it’s cold, you are brought back to the present, and you have to focus. At least, that’s what I’ve been finding.

Read more articles from Leo Babauta on zen habits here

Read more fuel for the mind here.