The Good Life

Taste is perhaps the main driver — if not the sole driver — behind our actions and thoughts. Edmund Burke wrote about the importance of taste in his discussion about aesthetics and psychology in a work titled “A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.” Thus, from a psychosocial standpoint, in order to better understand what we are doing or saying or thinking, we have to evaluate our preferences and tastes, and perhaps contrast our preferences and tastes to those of others in order to know where we stand and where we are headed.

There are certain individuals who know exactly what it is that they are seeking out of life. In other words, they know exactly what they want in life. There are folks with good taste, and there are those who lack taste. I have been told by many people throughout my youth and early adulthood that I have good taste and that I know exactly what I want out of life. However, many people are under the impression that in order to have good taste or to get what you want in life, you have to have a certain degree of wealth or a certain degree of power in order to have a “good life.” In reality, some of the best things in life are actually quite simple. Thus, the key is perhaps to focus the majority of your energy and time on the one thing that you wish to accomplish or have the most in life.

Knowledge and an open mind are perhaps the two magnets for all the good things in life. Many people are under the impression that money and power are the primary magnets for a “good life.” But actually, the primary magnets for “the good life” are knowledge and an open mind. Although knowledge is said to be more important than love and romance, knowledge can be the conduit or the thing that fosters pleasant relationships and a satisfying love life. “Knowledge rules, but wealth diminishes.” Knowing things can also offset angst and a feeling of uncertainty. Thus, the root word for knowledge in Arabic stands for the milk that is given to an infant in order to calm them down.

There are cues and secrets to a good life that cannot even be discussed openly. There is one cue or secret that guides my creativity, literary efforts, as well as the allocation of my energy, focus, and time at this particular moment. And I cannot even discuss or mention this cue or secret openly. If I were ever to disclose this cue or secret, it would have to be in a private conversation with only a few select individuals. Moreover, some things can only be known intuitively or through conversations that are had with old friends which were mentioned in passing or in the form of Freudian slips which you are lucky enough to remember. Thus, you have to be smart enough to catch these comments, cues, and secrets when they are mentioned by others.

In sum, knowledge and an open mind — which are the two most important things and the two primary factors in fostering “the good life” — are perhaps gifts from God. Not everyone has these two things, despite all the books, money, power, universities, schools, freedom, and information that are out there. Thus, if there is anything to pray for and to hope for, it is for God-given knowledge and an open mind which enables us to absorb and process this knowledge.

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