A Well-Lived Life

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“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” – Jung

What is a life well lived—a life filled with quality, richness, and meaning?

Maybe we should start with what it isn’t.

Curiously, it isn’t any of the things we’ve come to associate with “success”: an impressive resume or extensive real estate holdings. Instead, living life well, whether you look inside or outside yourself, as Jung describes, is associated strongly with:

  • The “spiritual” component of life
  • A journey rather than a destination
  • Contentment, but not necessarily, happiness

We’ve composed a preliminary list of experiences that we have found makes for a life well lived. They are not listed in any particular order of importance.

Experiences That Make For A Life Well-Lived

  1. Contributing toward an individual’s growth or an organization’s mission that we highly value.
  2. Demonstrating a consistency between our public and private persona.
  3. Experiencing the love and support of family and/or friends who have stuck with us through challenging times. And growing in the capacity to love.
  4. Learning through and sharing with friends — their perspectives, experiences, and insights.
  5. Growing through education, travel, or other hands-on experiences.
  6. Mastering skills in personal and/or professional realms.
  7. Appreciating the excellence and beauty in other people’s mastery and expression (e.g., in the arts, sports, problem-solving).
  8. Experiencing epiphanies about the nature of life.
  9.  Being immersed in something greater than the self.
  10.  Feeling captivated, awed, and/or spiritually awakened by Nature.
  11. Connecting with many sources of wisdom.
  12. Experiencing gratitude.
  13. Living mindfully in the present.
  14. Deepening one’s awareness by consistently living life’s existential questions.

How would you describe components of a life well lived?

We would love to hear from you.

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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3 Responses to A Well-Lived Life

  1. cedricj says:

    Meredith Moraine says:
    October 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm (Edit)

    Many of these components involve looking within, and that accords with my experience of my own and other lives. The success-oriented people I’ve known seemed quite unhappy, never satisfied and never secure. This vague dissatisfaction becomes more acute as the end of life approaches and the question arises: “What was all that striving for, if I’m only going to lose it?”

    To Experience #2, I would add that loving, not just being loved, is an essential part of a well-lived life. The energy of love is transformative, and dynamic. The more one loves, the more one CAN love, in ever wider circles. It just keeps growing.

  2. Great insights Cedric and I will most certainly share with my incoming team of young psychologists…who are all setting out on a new career with me, and my organization. Oh yes, I well recognize these signs and cherish them so much. Regards from India

    • cedricj says:

      I am always deeply touched to see similar aspirations for a well-lived life expressed in different parts of the world. The transcendent self connects all of us. I have a real affection for India where I have visited and have worked with hundreds of Indians in the USA.

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