a good life manifesto

New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me and I’m not much of a vision board type, but since I learnt a hell of a lot of stuff last year about living, I sat with a pen and jotted down my musings about the Big Stuff. You know, life and love and all that jazz.

What manifested was a Good Life Manifesto. It’s personal, and might not be everyone’s cup of tea at first glance, but I really do believe this is how most of us – when peeled right back to our most naked and vulnerable layers - want to live.

Up until relatively recently, I’ve been largely existing rather than living; always treading in the shadow of my own insecurities and anxieties; working in jobs that didn’t really do it for me; clinging to relationships that were never going to allow me the space to grow... and other such mishaps and commiserations. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve begun the process of pulling my finger out and making a concerted effort to make life good. Make it good. Operative word. It’s not easy, hey (it’s a tough world out there kiddo). Yet at the same time, it is incredibly simple.

Herein with, a Good Life Manifesto, 2013 and beyond:

Be present
I live in my head. It’s a pretty pointless place to be... seeing as I’m the only one there and all. Last year I learnt a few good tricks for stepping out of one’s foggy noggin, which I want to share with you this year.

Be grateful
A simple five minute exercise between snooze alarms every morning is all you need to strengthen your gratitude muscle. Once that muscle kicks into gear, the world takes on a different shade of fulfilment. The once mundane turns enjoyable and the once enjoyable turns mind-boggingly splendiferous.

Move, everyday, slowly
My primary forms of exercise are walking, riding my bike and swimming in the bay. All of which are in amongst nature (and free). All of which I do slowly. I don’t set out to exercise. I set out to move and enjoy.

Every day, do something you love
This doesn’t have to be something mammoth. Benjamin Franklin liked to write immersed in a bath tub. Louise Hay likes to eat sausages with prunes for breakfast. I love to walk through my vegetable patch and touch all the plants. And I love to write here, on this site.

Ask yourself, how much is enough?
Health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship, leisure. These are the basic goods that, as the Skidelsky’s propose in their book How Much is Enough? make life worth living. They’re basic goods that lack of would lead to serious suffering or harm. I tend to agree. If we have each of these, albeit to varying degrees at various times, well then, isn’t that enough? I say yes. These are the basic goods to focus on (as opposed to making lots of money or owning a designer bag or a bigger fancier house).

Lean towards self-sufficiency
It helps give you purpose and meaning. Grow some of your own food, make your own beauty products, bottle your own tomato sauce. Learn to sew. All these things foster fulfilment, creativity and gratitude.

Shed all bullshit defences – be alright with being vulnerable
It’s what allows us to truly connect with the people around us. It’s what allows us to be a good friend, a good partner, parent, sibling, employer or employee. Genuine connection is all we have. More on this later.

Like yourself
You have to like yourself in order to be alright with being vulnerable. You’re ok. I’m ok. Everyone else thinks themselves a fraud too. Personally, I really need to work on this.

Let others be
These three words, spoken to me by my auntie whilst I stayed with her in Greece a few years back, have improved my relationships (dramatically) and my sanity (dramatically). We’re not responsible for how others behave. Everyone is their own person and no matter how much you love, how close you are, they will behave as their own person. The second you forego viewing their behaviour as a reflection of yourself or your being, is the second you find the freedom to accept and be accepted exactly as you, and they, are.

Walk barefoot on the nature strip
I mean this in the most literal sense. Physically connect with nature. Something happens when you feel a leaf, or a blade of grass, or a grain of sand, on your skin – your small place in the world suddenly becomes very graspable.

Chase meaning, not happiness
No one can be happy all the time. Even the Brady Bunch got sad. Meaning... now that’s the gold. Whether it’s tending to the beetroot growing in your backyard or helping others do awesome things, do something that means something to you. And do it most (if not all) days of the week.

And these one liners –

Do one thing at a time.

Eat till 70% full.

Rest. Don’t feel guilty about it.

Do you have a manifesto for the year and beyond? Care to share?


  1. Thanks Maria, this is lovely. I suspect you may enjoy the 3 part documentary series Status Anxiety, put together by Alain de Botton (he's also written a book of the same name, along with a number of excellent others I am sure you will have heard of). All the best for living by your manifesto in 2013.

  2. Thanks Elle, I haven't seen that series... might hire it on your recommendation :)

  3. Thank you Maria - this is lovely...and inspiring x

  4. Wow, Maria. It's like you've just articulated everything that's going on in my head! Wonderful post and so what I need right now as I feel tugged in so many directions but, at my core, feel a desire to live simply & mindfully to find contentment in the everyday. If you're up for it I'd love to meetup for a walk & a chat one day soon : )



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