In different cultures and times, the question of what it means to live well has challenged some of the world’s greatest minds.
Aristotle once said the good life was spent in contemplation, exercising reason and acquiring knowledge; today, tv stars insist its drinking champagne on private jets and watching the money pile up.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the discourse around pleasure is too often wrapped in the language of guilt. But satisfaction, in its many shapes and forms, is surely the best indicator of a life well lived. There are the transient, often shallow indulgences, which are sometimes succeeded by feelings of emptiness. Then there are the more profound, slow burning comforts, the ones that continue to kindle a sense of contentment long after they come to an end.
The good life is often thought of as synonymous with a life lived in accordance with nature. In Costa Rica, with its misty rivers, lush jingles and laid back coastal towns, locals have a phrase to describe their country’s commitment to living life to its full: pura vida.
And this positive attitude can be applied to the act of travelling, whether it’s adopted by newlyweds exploring the idyllic islands of the Maldives or intrepid holidaymakers who have managed to make to the Belize, where spectacular underwater wildlife swarms around the world second largest barrier reef.
Within a more urban environment, its can be challenging to find peace of mind. Today, more than ever, people turn to travel for a sense of release. But at the same time, the stimulation of large cities can provide great scope for inspiration and creation. Cities that support a more laid back lifestyle strive to strike the right balance. Rio is surrounded by the world’s largest urban forest and a connection with nature runs through the city, inspiring its inhabitants.
A sense of community, of belonging to something outside of the self, can enrich our life experiences and end up driving positive change. Thanks to its history of diversity, Kerala has a legacy of multiculturalism and open mindedness that makes it India’s happiest and most liberal state.
For many tantamount to relaxation, a good wine is the result of a slow process that requires real respect for the land. It’s hard to imagine a city that better encapsulates dolce far niente, or the ‘the sweetness of nothing’, the inimitable Italian mentality of pleasure for pleasure’s sake than Florence.
It can appear as though we are expected to earn the things that makes us happy. But why should we not say yes to a second helping, have an extra glass of wine because we feel like it or stay up talking all night instead of getting eight hours sleep? Enjoyment in all its forms can play its part in the a good life. Pleasure and its pursuit deserves to be shared and celebrated.