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August 29, 20237 min read

                               HOW MUCH DOES IT TAKE TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE ?

Do you find yourself not considering certain positions because the starting salary is not what you were hoping for? Maybe it seems like some people get all the breaks. Like they are cutting in line while others are playing fair. Or they have connections that help them land great paying jobs or have parents who help them buy homes while you lack both those advantages. You feel you don’t have enough to provide a good life and you can’t see the light. If that is the case there is only one thing that can be done about it. 

DO. SOMETHING. NOW.  BONGO is going to let you cut in line.

In reality most people enjoy a very good life on an average income. And most of those people started out living on a below average income. Put it into perspective. What do you enjoy?  What makes you happy?  What’s important to you?  Does dining at chic restaurants excite you or does staying home with pizza, wings and a beer sound a lot better?  All life is relative. 

Wise people know that life is a journey, and that journeys are adventurous, educational, fun, and often challenging. A journey starts from a base and ends up at a destination. But it’s not a magical event. You have to take some kind of route to get there. Some people like to enjoy the route while others are only concerned about the finish line. The ones who know how to have a good life don’t wait until they arrive at their destination. They take joy in the journey.

What you consider a good life at twenty might be different at forty. Or maybe not. I have a friend who is doing the same thing at eighty as he did at twenty; painting.  It took awhile until he was able to make it his full time profession but he never gave up on himself. He stuck with it even in rough times. What I admire about him is that even as he became a successful painter, he still lived a pretty simple life. He sold his paintings in his studio located in a small fishing village. At six o’clock he would often pull up a seat and share a glass of wine with a few of us outside the studio. He chose to keep his life modest. And even though he could have bought an expensive boat to dock out back, he relaxed on his own invention; an old surfboard with a lawn chair tied to it!  The sight of him in the middle of the day getting some peace time out there among the fishing vessels and expensive sailboats always made me laugh. To some people, happiness is relaxing on a yacht. Or at least they think that’s what it takes.  But that was all it took for him to relax when he got the calling for some time alone. 

Another acclaimed artist next door designed and built his topsail schooner (with the support and assistance of his wife) at the age of fifty five. It was a four year project. It was his painting that   allowed for his forty foot, sixteen ton, cement hulled sailboat dream to be born into reality. 

He was still climbing the hulls for maintenance, (much to the anxiety of the port people who would witness it with butterflies in their stomachs) into his nineties! His 104th birthday is coming up. This man, to me, represents a life well lived. He also could have led a wealthy lifestyle but was wise enough to understand what mattered most in his life.  

He did what he wanted to do while doing what he needed to do in order to keep his best life going forward. We are all capable of that if we demonstrate an unending trust in ourselves. It takes uncompromising commitment and passion. It’s hard to keep that trust.

It also helps to avoid habits that drain your positive energy (physically and mentally), for example, excessive alcohol and too much R and R ! 

A good life is having the time and the opportunity to enjoy peace, security, people, nature and to create your own experiences; to be able to live in the moment and appreciate all those important things. A good life is having and taking the time to enjoy what you like such as fishing, sports or taking off in the car for a road trip with your family, or friends, or yourself.

The painter’s extreme work ethic and determination was the key to his success and happiness. But that was his dream. What’s yours?

My last example is Thomas Edison! He didn’t believe in wasting time. He used his entrepreneurial spirit at age 14 when he snagged a newsboy job on The Grand Trunk Railroad. After he saw how “easy'' that was, he hired more boys to sell their wares on that train for a cut. He still had time for something else so he rigged a printing room in the back and created a newspaper for the passengers to read (and buy!) along the route. HE WAS A KID!! 

And that was the beginning of a life that led him to almost 1100 patents, founding the GE Corporation, the lightbulb, telegraph, phonograph, and too many inventions to list in this article. He never stopped. One thing always led to another. No one gave him anything. As a child he came up with a plan. Then another. Then another. From age 14 to his death, he developed plans and turned them into reality. That’s what he lived for. 

One interesting saying of his was “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Another of his famous sayings you can find on key chains and mouse pads is “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” And he knew what he was talking about.

His was a fascinating life and a true American rags to riches story. But contrary to the historic pictures that show him in his three piece suits, bow ties and either his bowler hat or his iconic straw hat (at the Florida Estate), this extremely wealthy man integrated a simple life into the necessary business of invention, design, production, and marketing. 

And here comes a boat again!  In Fort Myers he kept his boat docked at his long pier on the Caloosahatchee River which was his backyard. Both goods and people were delivered by boat to the Edison Estate which is now a world class tourist destination. He always loved water and boats, and fishing gave him the time, space, peace and excuse to relax and come up with new or better ideas! 

His joy was found in humor (including his own!) and friends. He spoiled his wife whom he adored. He gave her the luxurious life of a beautiful estate and the finances to host endless dinners and parties for other important people of the era. But his life always revolved around his “work” because that was his true and constant passion, his ultimate joy that he couldn’t live without. He would walk across the road to his lab. It was life itself.

There seems to be a common thread among the people mentioned above (besides the boats!). THEY made their lives happen. They were not handed the lives they wanted so they dreamed it and then figured out a way to earn it. They all believed they would make their visions materialize at young ages. They were bold and not fearful. Or if they were fearful at times, they acted in spite of it. 

We don’t have to have lofty dreams. Making enough to pay the bills, host Sunday dinners and having the time to go fishing is a good life. Stop and smell the flowers. Or the fish that are running! Or whatever is wafting off the barbeque! (Maybe the fish you just caught)

Like the painters above, they never focused on how hard life was, but instead they directed their attention to whatever it was that inspired them.

Sometimes having a good life means putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. Simply knowing what we don’t need to live a good life is something we should all keep in mind.  Appreciate the present but move forward. Keep a balance in your life. Laugh wholeheartedly. And all that’s free.  

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Stephanie Sharpe

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