5 Ancient ideas for a Good Life

Humans have always been searching for ways to lead a more fulfilling and happier life from immemorial times. It’s astounding that spiritual wisdom from olden times is still very much applicable to this date and time.

Definitely it stands true that spiritual wisdom is omnipresent and free from the bondages of any time and space.  For instance, the Stoic Philosophy about life (3rd B.C. Ancient Greece) continues to resonate in modern psychology.

As Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, William Irvine from the Wright State University puts it,” The Stoics were the pre-eminent psychologists of the Western world. Centuries later, Psychology is realising how effective these techniques were.”

William Irvine, a 21st-century Stoic philosopher, suggests to consciously adopt a ‘philosophy of life’ to avoid living directionless or on autopilot for years or decades together. There are two steps that are required for this — to figure out what’s worth having in life and finding a way to get it.

According to the Stoic Philosophy there are some very simple and easily applicable ways or tools one can adopt to achieve a good, flourishing life.


More often than not we don’t appreciate the daily blessings of life because most of the events are happening quite normally and in a flow. For a moment just think if your vehicle breaks down while going to the office, your loved one could simply leave you, you could have a severe fracture of the leg or your mobile phone could simply cease to work at this very minute. All of a sudden you will realise that none of this has happened, which could have gone wrong in a million ways, and this in itself is a cause for deep appreciation of life and a delight to be alive. At times negative visualisations can play a very significant role in fostering gratitude.


In the words of Marcus Aurelius, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” If we begin to look at our problems through different ‘frames’ or perspectives life is bound to get easier to handle. One can choose to be completely consumed by the gravity of the situation or problem at hand or subject it to various frames e.g. if the event was a deliberate attempt of malice or simply incompetence, carelessness on someone’s part? One can always try and look at the situation with some humour or levity. The whole idea is to not be swept away by the negative emotions, rather focus on being calm while looking for effective solutions. Such events or setbacks of life can always transform into good and inspiring stories to tell. 


For everything in life that we do, from the most mundane chores like waking up to things like giving flowers to our loved ones, there will be a last time they we will do it. Although this thought may have pessimistic connotations to it, but we could also look at it as a chance to not take things for granted in our daily lives. The realisation that life is so unpredictable and fleeting, can help us be more present, mindful, connected and engaged with ourselves, the people and the world around us. The acceptance of this transient character of life will make us do ordinary things with extraordinary love and care each time we do it, as it could might as well be our last time doing it.  


The Stoics were very keen on reflecting on their weaknesses and shortcomings and were always looking for ways to improve themselves. They thought of themselves as artists who worked with a material that was far more precious than clay: life itself. From them began the ritual of self-reflection at bedtime. Take a few moments before bedtime to review the whole day, what went right and what went wrong, what could you have done better, did you allow yourself to get upset over something insignificant, did you feel joy and happiness, did you allow yourself to be kind and curious? This daily practice helps you observe yourself in different situations and work of yourself accordingly.


Gaining knowledge about something helps us appreciate and enjoy it at a greater level. Learning is the key to immense joy and happiness. The more we know about the world around us, the more meaning we can assign to it, and the more it will amaze us. Be a connoisseur of arts, science, astronomy or food or anything in the whole wide world and you will find the sheer delight of life in it. When one is able to understand the hidden depths of the beauty of a flower, then a flower transcends from merely a thing of nature to a miracle of nature!

Author: Aumtara