Fall leaves on Wascana - Photo by David Innes

Living well: Six Essentials for a Good Life

Welcome to my first blog post. I’m pretty excited to finally be here online after thinking about it for many months. I decided to start blogging to combine my three passions –  learning, teaching, and writing.

Most of my blog posts are related to the content I teach in my leadership courses:

  • Ways we can build a good life,
  • Getting past how we trip ourselves up in mindset or behavior and realizing our full potential, and
  • Having a positive impact on others.

I’m a constant student of the good life. While I make plenty of mistakes, I strive towards living as well as I can and being my best self. I am by no means perfect, but I love the continual act of growing and I’m excited to share the journey with you.

There is a lot of fantastic research about why the following things are important, but I’m more interested in the how than the why. So I take this opportunity to share how I’ve been able to build six specific elements of a good life.

  1. Relationships: Be compassionate, be supportive, choose kindness over being right, put in the time and effort required to build authentic connections, and be real with other people so they are free to be real with you. Make it a priority to spend time with people you enjoy and connect with. Unless they treat you like crap. Then move on. Seriously. Life is too short. Go find people who value and appreciate you. Then value and appreciate them.
  1. A passion. This doesn’t have to be your work, and you don’t have to be good at it. It just has to get you excited about life. It can’t just be your passion; you actually have to spend some time doing it. My passion has always been writing. Ever since I was a little kid and typing out stories on my grandmother’s typewriter. The last time I was organizing my office, I counted 87 journals full of my writing. It’s what I love. Putting together this blog has kick-started my writing into high gear.
  1. The Ability to Forgive. You have to cultivate the ability to forgive. To forgive doesn’t mean that you are okay with what happened; it just means you are releasing its hold on you. The only person you are hurting by holding on to your anger, resentment, and hurt is yourself. Let go. Forgive others, forgive yourself, and move on. Life is better when we aren’t burdened by what we can’t change. The only power we have in a situation is to let go of our anger and resentment, and give ourselves some peace. Cultivate compassion for yourself and others. Whenever I’m in a situation where I’m feeling hurt, I ask myself what serves me best. The answer is often to let go, or – depending on the situation – to address it with the person, and then let it go. We have to let go of things too – what’s meant for you won’t pass you by.  That means jobs, relationships, and opportunities. But not chocolate. Don’t let chocolate pass you by – chase it down and take it. It’s meant for you. Don’t ever forgive anyone who eats your chocolate.
  1. Gratitude. I used to keep a gratitude journal which I wrote in every night. Now that I have kids I think fuzzy grateful thoughts right before I pass out. They usually include “Thank God they’re finally asleep.” It’s a start. I also thank people when they do something for me. Whether it’s at work or at home. I make it specific. Not just “Thanks for your help,” but “Thanks for your amazing editing under my ridiculous timelines!” (That’s for you Jacinda.) Every night at dinner, our family shares what we are grateful for. My two-year-old child is grateful for cheese – every single night, whether we are having it or not. I don’t care. It’s starting the conversation. Last week my five-year-old child said he was grateful for his sister. She glowed. That was worth every nonsensical grasp of gratitude that was uttered around our table in the preceding months.
  1. Contribution. There are so many ways of contributing to the world – parenting, working, volunteering, donating, or following your passion. Pick one and do it. I try to weave contribution into everything I do because I am so aware of how fortunate I am and want to give from that place. I also donate monthly to a few organizations, so that when I feel I’ve failed miserably at having any positive impact through my work – or more likely, my parenting –  I’ve got a back-up.
  1. Knowing and loving yourself. When you understand yourself, flaws and all, you can start to show up differently. You can make better and different choices once you are aware of the impacts of these choices. You can also be more compassionate and loving with yourself. Ways I’ve learned to love and understand myself include therapy, Myers Briggs/Insights personality tools, the StrengthsFinder to identify my top five strengths, and asking people for feedback. The personality tools and feedback were helpful, but therapy was far and away the best thing I ever did to start loving and understanding myself. I treat myself as I would treat my best friend. Except when I have forgotten to buy chocolate. Then I berate myself as deserved.
  1. Sense of humour. I have two small children. This means I can be laughing, crying, or screaming on a regular basis. Choose laughter. Every time. Well, unless knives are involved. Then choose screaming. Some of the things your friends, kids, and colleagues do are both hilarious and annoying. You can choose whether to laugh or to scream. You say you’ll laugh about it someday. Why not today? Like the time my baby’s poop leaked through her diaper, her sleeper, and onto my shirt, and then I went to teach a leadership class to a room full of executives. Hilarious. When someone finally pointed it out to me we had a good laugh about it and moved on. Life is both funny and heartbreaking. Get some laughs while you can.

 This is my blog, to share with you my passion, to be frank and authentic, to connect, to laugh, to push myself to learn, share, and discover right along with you, and to contribute to a conversation about the good life. I’m interested in your ideas and what you think about the good life, so I’ll be asking questions as I blog and I’d love to hear your voice in the comments.

So, how about you? What do you love? How can you make time for your passions in your life? What do you think is essential for a good life and how do you make it happen? I’m looking forward to the conversation.

If you’d like to hear more, please join my newsletter. You’ll get my e-book 9 Strategies for Dealing with the Difficult Stuff for free and a weekly email with my reflections and tools for living the good life.

25 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing your blog with me through the email invite! I knew that I instinctively liked you when we first met at PSS, but now as you share your heart through the blog, I can see that my instincts were spot on! ? Such a beautifully rich take on life. Can’t wait to talk more!

  2. You made me cry. A good, emotional purging kind of cry. Your blog is like having you in my kitchen on a rainy day with a hot cup of coffee…and chocolate. Looking forward to “seeing” you on a weekly basis now.

  3. This is my first time using a blog and I am excited to do things for a first time! I was fortunate to read your preview of the Nine Strategies for Dealing with the Difficult Stuff. I want to buy it since I think it will be wonderful to share with some of the parents that I counsel during their challenges. I think it is very encouraging to read your very human story and how you have found ways to co-exist with the challenges and the richness in life. In this blog I thought that this is a wonderful teaching for your children to begin to speak about gratitude. I love to hear how your son is grateful for his sister and she is grateful for cheese.
    I too am grateful for dark chocolate! I used to write in many journals. However I enjoy creating collages in journals with posters and tickets of events I take in throughout the year. My passion is singing weekly now. I find I am slowing down at age 76 years old and I allow myself naps, allow myself DVD’s from the library and lie about in a blanket on my couch. I just watched all of Madmen and laughed at myself for getting into it, but I don’t care. I can even tell the truth to you dear friend Stephanie. I love your writing. Your are a treasure.

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comments Jenny, I’m glad you found the book so helpful – please pass it along to anyone you think would benefit from it. I’m also so thrilled to hear you are slowing down and making time to relax and enjoy laughing at Madmen as well as all the amazing and valuable work you do in the world. I think you’re probably my oldest blog follower – thanks for figuring it out and for all your amazing support.

  4. What a great launch, Steph! You were meant to be doing this and sharing your wisdom and experience with the world. Ever the generous soul you are, you have given us seven of the six essentials. I love that about you…it would have sucked to leave out any of them. Love you, my friend.

    1. Thank you Maggie! I’m also just bad at math :). It’s a pleasure to be on the creative journey with you! Love you too!

  5. Hello lovely, will be looking forward to reconnecting through your words and wisdom, thank you for the laugh this morning regarding the chocolate……xx


  6. One day we will have a chocolate making workshop…then you start giving it away so you don’t eat the whole freezer full all at once….or bit by bit each day! Lol! Then you get to make more! Yes…certainly my passion as well! Someone pointed out after dragon mama comes out I go into justifying it…usually out of guilt. Next step is to skip the guilt and out-of-place justifications and go straight to forgiveness, self love and…chocolate!

    1. I love it – forgiveness and chocolate! And I love the dragon mama – such a great explanation of how we show up sometimes when the little dragons bring it out of us!

    1. Thanks so much Fran, not sure if you read the e-book but much of it is about what I learned from Mom. I really appreciate you saying that, I’ve been thinking of her a lot as I’m doing this work! Hope you and your family are well.

  7. Wow Steph, you have such perfect timing. Congratulations on putting your dream into action. I’ve always wanted to get to know you better and have been too shy to act on that wish. This is such a perfect way to dip my toe in the deep waters of Stephanie. Look forward to knowing you better, Girlfriend.

  8. Hi Steph!! You made me laugh out loud with your “poop on your shirt” story! Only because I can TOTALLY relate!! I have SO been there!! Loved your writing….so authentic, funny, and real… with great insight! Congrats on starting your blog!! I will be reading when the next one comes out!

  9. well I never ! I never really got what a blog is till this minute, having read your first entry. …….but I’m not sure that you haven’t morphed the blog phenomenon to a new level, Steph. Everything you have written here is like a check list of the remarkably authentic person you are. You are saying it because you live it, not because you think it or hope it or want other people to be a certain way…..and you have the language to describe your way of being so lucidly, so poetically. We are all the beneficiaries. Kudos dear friend.

    1. Wow, thank you – I’m still figuring out what a blog is but if that’s your impression, I’m going to keep heading in this direction!

  10. Love this Steph! The line about not forgiving anyone who eats your chocolate made me laugh out loud, as did the part about knives sometime necessitating screaming. The rest of it just made me realize yet again how lucky and grateful I feel to have such a wise compassionate friend. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways. Write on my friend!

  11. Thanks for this, Stephanie. I wish I’d listened to these things when I was so much younger. My life would have been so much easier!

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