How to live a good life

by being a wise person, a judge, a monk and a knight all in one.

Do you know how to live your life? Do you know what is good? We all have an idea of it, but the question is much older than us.

Since the beginnings of humankind people have wondered how to live a good life. Today you can sign up for blueprints to happiness. Greek philosophers made suggestions that if you fulfil a number of virtues in your life, you can be considered as living a good life.

Those are called the cardinal virtues. Wikipedia says that there are four of them, but they have changed over time. And today, a blogger somewhere close to the equator picks them up again and writes about them. They are namely prudence, justice, temperance and courage. Sounds pretty old-fashioned, right?

A good person would be a wise man, a judge, a monk and a knight all in one. But what would they mean today, to me, a young woman, a university graduate in the age of Internet?

I have the same urge like those Greeks to live a good and righteous life, not only for my own, but for society’s benefit. Only that I don’t wander around in a toga but in shorts.

Let’s see how to incorporate those four cardinal virtues into my daily life as a millennial.

  • Prudence or wisdom means making the right decisions and doing the right thing in the right time. In order to do that, I need to pause, I need some distance. When there is a situation stressing me out and I am to make a decision, I will pause, breathe, gather information and advice and then decide.
  • Justice means being fair. I realised that a big problem of mine is judging people. It helps me categorise them automatically into “dangerous – run!” and “not dangerous – stay & shake hands.” It’s the root cause for prejudices but it’s also good that this process is automated in my brain. However, justice here means doing away with assumptions, to unlearn. Which is the hardest of all, I tell you! Just try and reverse every judgement, turn every doubt around, swallow every comment you could make about a person you see and don’t even know. It needs practice, but it’s worth it.
  • Temperance means self-control, being moderate, and abstain excess. It means putting my needs and wants in the background, it means to pause and do every little thing with a high awareness.
  • Courage, lastly, doesn’t mean to walk around and fight with people. It means to confront my own fear, uncertainty and intimidation. The biggest battles are fought within myself. It is courageous to face my own fears, to go where it hurts. It means to carry on if times get rough, to keep pushing myself to the limit without giving in to laziness or cowardice.

It seems that these cardinal virtues are very valid, up to today. Don’t those coaches always tell me to make decisions in a cool and rational manner, to not judge, be aware and face my fears?

Which one is your favourite – and why? Tell us in the comments below!

I’d also love to meet you on facebook and send you weekly goodness straight to your inbox.

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2 thoughts on “How to live a good life

  1. I so agree with you on everything in this article! I think justice is perhaps the most important one to achieve, since it affects other people’s life besides one’s own, but temperament is very important, too, well, all 4 of them are my favorites, I guess!

    • I know, it’s very hard to pick my favourite one. These philosophers really knew what they were doing, because only together do these virtues give the complete picture.

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