A Life Well Lived

Optimal Mental Health and Well-Being

A Life Well Lived

What is the secret to living a fulfilled life? What is happiness?

“I’m not happy with my life,” is a common statement I hear from clients. They might be sober for many years, have a good job, and be in better health, yet they still feel like something is missing.

Countless authors discuss how happiness is an inside job. They stress that material things won’t make us happy. Is this true? When is the last time you got something you really wanted and felt happy for an extended period of time? Chances are the happiness you felt was short-lived. Why is this so?

While I don’t have an answer for this question, and doubt that anyone else does either, I do know that shifting our focus from wanting to be happy to wanting to have a meaningful life is a giant step in the right direction.

Research on people who are near the end of their lives on what factors were most meaningful to them revealed that material success counted for very little. No one on their death bed talked about being happy because they owned a luxury car or made lots of money. What seemed to matter to them more was the quality of relationships they had and that they didn’t have any regrets. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

A life lived without regret is a life well-lived.


Think about your life and what values actually drive you. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting material success, it won’t fill us up unless we have loving relationships and deeper experiences of meaning in our lives. What does that really mean? It means stop shutting down your dreams. Go to school. Become a volunteer. Commit to making a difference in the world. Be kind to others. In other words, do the things now that you don’t want to regret you didn’t do when it’s too late.

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