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Experience True Pleasure.

Avoid shallow and transient pleasures. Keep your life simple. Seek calming pleasures that contribute to peace of mind. True pleasure is disciplined and restrained. In its many shapes and forms, pleasure is what every human being is after. It is the chief good of life.

Yet not all pleasures are alike. Some pleasures are kinetic —shallow, and transient, fading way as soon as the act that creates the pleasure ends. Often they are succeeded by a feeling of emptiness and psychological pain and suffering. Other pleasures are catastematic —deep, and prolonged, and continue even after the act that creates them ends; and it is these pleasures that secure the well-lived life. Master Yourself. Resist any external force that might delimit thought and action; stop deceiving yourself, believing only what is personally useful and convenient; complete liberty necessitates a struggle within, a battle to subdue negative psychological and spiritual forces that preclude a healthy existence; self mastery requires ruthless cador.

Today, freedom tends to be associated, above all, with political liberty. The ancients argued long before Sigmund Freud and the advent of modern psychology that the acquisition of genuine freedom involved a dual battle.

The Good Life Book

First, a battle without, against any external force that might delimit thought and action. Second, a battle within, a struggle to subdue psychological and spiritual forces that preclude a healthy self-reliance. The ancient wisdom clearly recognized that humankind has an infinite capacity for self-deception, to believe what is personally useful and convenient at the expense of truth and reality, all with catastrophic consequences. Individual investors often deceive themselves by holding on to shady stocks, believing what they want to believe. They often end up blaming stock analysts and stockbrokers when the truth of the matter is they are the ones who eventually made the decision to buy them in the first place.

Students also deceive themselves believing that they can pass a course without studying, and end up blaming their professors for their eventual failure. Avoid Excess. Live life in harmony and balance.

Avoid excesses. Even good things, pursued or attained without moderation, can become a source of misery and suffering. They correctly understood that when people violate the limits of a reasonable mean, they pay penalties ranging from countervailing frustrations to utter catastrophe.

It is for this reason that they prized ideals such as measure, balance, harmony, and proportion as much as they did, the parameters within which productive living can proceed. If, however, excess is allowed to destroy harmony and balance, then the life worth living becomes impossible to obtain. Be a Responsible Human Being.

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The Good Life

Approach yourself with honesty and thoroughness; maintain a kind of spiritual hygiene; stop the blame-shifting for your errors and shortcomings. Be honest with yourself and be prepared to assume responsibility and accept consequences.


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This rule comes from Pythagoras, the famous mathematician and mystic, and has special relevance for all of us because of the common human tendency to reject responsibility for wrongdoing. Very few individuals are willing to hold themselves accountable for the errors and mishaps that inevitably occur in life. But the far more typical tendency is to find ourselves in dilemmas of our own creation — dilemmas for which we refuse to be held accountable.

If only John or Mary had acted differently then I would not have responded as I did. They reflect an infinite human capacity for rationalization, finger-pointing, and denial of responsibility. Unfortunately, this penchant for excuses and self-exemption has negative consequences. People who feed themselves a steady diet of exonerating fiction are in danger of living life in bad faith — more, they risk corrupting their very essence as a human being.

Prosperity by itself, is not a cure-all against an ill-led life, and may be a source of dangerous foolishness.

As The Good Life turns 40, Russell Davies reflects on one of the greatest ever sitcoms

Money is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the good life, for happiness and wisdom. Prosperity has different meanings to different people. For some, prosperity is about the accumulation of wealth in the form of money, real estate and equities. For others, prosperity is about the accumulation of power and the achievement of status that comes with appointment to business or government positions.

Disclaimer

The thirty episodes of The Good Life became household favourites, and are still enduring icons of their time. In a good-natured, light-hearted way, they showed how hard it was, and is, to be different to those around you, and the kind of courage it takes to be so. Home Explore the BBC. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Living the Good Life

Watch and Listen He wants to put the Giraffe on my plate! Also on bbc. Explore the BBC. BBC Homepage.