Some might call it being successful, others might call it living the best life possible but in some sense we are all striving for it: the optimal life. For myself the pursuit of this ideal has lead to the model which is is explained below. I want to share this model, which seems to me a very powerful metaphoric roadmap to living on the top. Overall, I believe that there are Three Great Lives – a trinity with a small “t” so to say.
- The first Great Life is the purposeful one, where one makes an impact on the world. It is doing what is right and means contributing to the people around one, society at large and in some sense to global stability and development. Here we talk about being productive and working. Getting stuff done and making headway is for me part of the Good Life for the impact of one’s doings will improve things objectively and create a good world.
- The second great life is about being rich in the broadest sense of the word. This includes material wealth of course but much more importantly being rich in experiences. Thus, overall filling one’s life here on earth with impressions, points of views, mindsets, worldviews. Within this sphere life is to a large extent about striving for exposure of a variety of emotions and diverse experiences. This is to be achieved, for example, in living in different countries throughout one’s life and trying to experiment and see new things. As such, it is more than just a kind of hedonistic “seeking pleasure” – after all it is the Beautiful Life.
- And finally, there is the spiritual life or simply the sphere of personal-growth. Here one is seeking for the nature of the Self. Who am I? What is my nature? To me this sphere means meditation, reflection and contemplative practice. It means seeking for God, Awakening or the Nature of the Universe. I have correlated this with the Platonic section of the true for it is about uncovering the nature of God or the nature of existence.
At first it seemed as if those were completely different paths, separate from another and maybe even mutually exclusive. It is either you live the Good life – as a social entrepreneur maybe working virtually 24/7, you live the Beautiful life – as an adventurer and bon vivant or you live the True life – as a monk in the Himalayan mountains.
However, the more I have been thinking about this model and trying to apply it to my own life, it seemed as if they could actually compliment each other in many ways. A commitment to live to the full in one area gives one perspective and maybe even the hunger for balance of the others.
Why not try to live a life of impact that is beautiful and rich in experiences and filled with contemplative meditative practice? Meditating and personal-growth seems to help one to be more focused and able to choose one’s priorities as well as to enjoy more fully the abundance of the world. Similarly as a “practicing” global citizen one is rich in analogies and contacts that are very helpful in business and one can better understand how small and relative one as an individual is. Finally, making an impact puts you in a better position to make crazy experience with amazing people and with the right mindset will also be very beneficial to one’s personal development.
What follows is a rather technical comparison between different models as they relate to this “Trinity”. Extensive notes not for the ordinary reader might be an appropriate description of the rest of the text.
This model is evidently inspired by Plato’s transcendentals of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Where the areas are each correlated with the Morals, the Sciences and the Arts.
Furthermore, there are several other models which seem to fit in with it with this trinity. First, among them is Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrants, which I have explained in detail here. In summary, Wilber equates the Good/Morals with the WE/intersubjective sphere of culture and social life and the Beautiful/Art with the I/subjective one of the self and individuality. However, he splits the True/Science sphere into the singular of IT/objective where we are talking about physical substances and the plural ITS/interobjective where we are talking about the webs and systems of the physical reality.
Also, one might distinguish within the Three Great Lives between those which are about the external side, which would be the Good – improving things in the objective world, and the internal side where we have the enjoying, almost hedonistic, aspect of Beautiful and the tranquil and reflective part of the True.
Furthermore, within the internal sphere one might correlate the enjoying and mirthful side of beautiful with Alpha, the origin, the issuing forth, the God which is going from the One into the Many. Here we have the relative world of Samsara and the abundance of existence, the Descend into the world of form. On the opposite side we have Omega, the completion, the coming together, the God which is going from the Many to the One. Here we have the Nirvana and the oneness and emptiness of being – the Ascend into the world of formlessness. These two halves being the two archetypical forms of the Dual in Non-Dual. If one were to include the Good sphere, this would be part of the relative world of Alpha.
Finally, these spheres are also about what seem to me to be the two movements of existence: striving and being. The first, striving, is in the relative world and about going for the things one wants and is longing for. This would especially be the Good domain. The second, being, is about the accepting, appreciating and being grateful for whatever is. Here we are talking as much about a stillness of soul as enjoyment – being in the NOW, as Eckhart Tolle would call it. Most clearly this is the domain of the True. The third and last domain is a tricky one to place within this framework for it seems as if one were striving for the amazing experiences, however without eventually being and enjoying them they seem hollow. Thus, there seems to be an overlap.
It might well be questioned whether specifically the Good, which is Morals in Plato’s conception, should be about the productive and working part of life. Or whether the spirirtual life should be the true one. The same goes for the models. To me it makes sense as it is and it is important to remember that this is only a metaphoric meaning.
I have found it powerful and helpful to start of one’s day by stating that one is deliberately trying to integrate those three aspects into one’s day. Likewise at the end of the day to reflect which were the Beautiful, True and Good aspects of one’s day – this also makes for efficient and meaningful journalling I have found.
These models, the trinity and the appended models, provide me with a conceptual superstructure that guides my life and it is as such an integral part of my thoughts every day. For myself, I can clearly feel the power of this model. My hope is that it can also be a useful framework for how to live the optimal life for you, or at least that it has given you an impulse into this direction.