Discover more from What is a Good Life?
What is a Good Life? #5
Good day to you all,
Thanks again for your interest in this newsletter and for all your shares for last week’s edition.
If this is your first time reading this newsletter, please click here for background information on the project and how it is structured (4 separate sections).
The key theme this week is nature.
Through following this weekly newsletter, I hope it gets easier to navigate one of life’s biggest questions.
1. This week’s interview – Nature & Exploring
Each week I share direct excerpts from an individual interview
This week’s interview is with John*. John holds a senior position at a management consultancy firm and nature has been a big part of his life from an early age. He talks about the importance of family, nature and exploring the world.
*Not the participant’s real name
What is a good life for you?
The balance of security, spending time with those I love, and health. Behind that is the whole work life balance. I am in a busy job that demands a lot - much of that is for security. Would I be doing something else, if money wasn't an issue? Yes, definitely.
I do enjoy my work but I would love more time to spend with my family and friends, that is when I'm happiest and being myself. But security is important for my family, for us to have what we need and to be healthy and happy.
Can you talk to me about being yourself?
In a work context, there's always a bit of a veil, unless I've got very close with people I'm working with, and even then there's a hesitation with certain things.
So when I'm with my own family or close friends, that’s when I’m truly myself. The other thing is being in nature, it’s a big part of me and our life as a family.
Being myself means being in the moment, laughing, playing, and nearly forgetting about all those other stresses and strains that life throws at you.
Can you describe what happens to you when you're out in nature?
I get these moments of really observing and hearing the birds, taking pleasure out of hearing the wind through the trees and seeing the beauty that's out there. I love being by the ocean or the sea, I get this sense of freedom as well as connection. Water really makes a difference to how I feel, it gives me energy – I get more energy when I'm in these outdoor environments.
What is this pull to the outdoors about for you?
It's not about me going, “I want to climb Mount Everest” - it's nearly the opposite. I prefer to find the quiet mountain that no one's ever gone on, I can just sit there at the top with my little cup of tea and go, “this is just gorgeous”. Even where we are right now, there are four mountains around us and I’m thinking wouldn’t it be great if we could climb four mountains in a row as part of our own little adventure. There’s so much I want to explore and experience. On the flip side of this, I’ve had to accept that I’m never going to get to see everything that I want to see!
You have a real curiosity or wonder to explore…
That's a good point and I'm laughing because if I know there’s another beach around the corner, I always want to explore what’s next. Even with the kids now, the big thing is, “what's the next adventure we’re going to go on, Dad?”. The next adventure could be as much as going into a farmer's field and trying to find frogs in the little pond or going to another continent.
Now that you prompted the thought, that's probably the biggest thing. If I won the lotto tomorrow and had 50 million in the bank, I would be exploring the world with the people I love, whether it be Ireland, the UK, or India, wherever it is, that's what I love doing.
2. This week’s insight
Each week I share an overall insight from reviewing 100+ interviews collectively
Nature was mentioned by approximately 30% of participants. Nature was suggested as a fundamental part of a good life and of good mental health. Participants highlighted the importance of it in connecting to the world around us and to ourselves (peace, presence, without distraction).
Nature was popular when recalling moments of strong fulfilment, and to a future paced question where participants wanted to rectify a lack of nature in their lives. Finally, nature was often referred to as an antidote to our consumption of technology, a chance to get away from our phones and laptops.
“We like to be out in nature so much because it has no opinion about us.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
3. This week’s reflection
Each week I share a personal reflection on one of the weekly themes
I spent last week by the Baltic Sea and it became clear to me what I was missing once I was in the water or running through forests with my dog. I felt a very visceral decompression in my head and my body.
While built up cities, social media and entertainment may be much of what many of us know, it’s creating a very altered world from the one which we’ve evolved to live in.
When you consider the proliferation of problems we experience; obesity, mental health, substance addictions, social media, etc., it’s clear that this artificial environment is not very nurturing.
Nature can provide an antidote to many of our problems and lends itself to many of the themes already discussed in this newsletter – freedom, internal peace and connection.
As hectic as modern life is, the average daily social media consumption is 2.5 hours. It might be easier than we think to carve out time for nature, and in doing so, create our own good life.
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” – Henry David Thoreau
4. This week’s questions for personal reflection
Each week I pose questions to support your own inquiry into what a good life for you is
1. What are your fondest moments of being in nature? How did you feel?
2. Compare periods in your life where you had frequent and infrequent exposure to nature, what do you observe?
That’s all for this week. I’d greatly appreciate you sharing this newsletter with your friends. I’d also really like to receive any feedback with suggestions for what you would like to see from these weekly updates. If you want to contact me directly, here’s my email and LinkedIn.
I’m a coach, based in Berlin (via Dublin, Ireland). I formerly had a 15-year career in Capital Markets, and for better or worse, I’ve convinced myself that I’m going to make a discovery around human thought / behaviour.