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Strive for the Good Life, We Know the Basics for Sure

by Julia Samuel on December 30, 2014 at 4:21 PM
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Strive for the Good Life, We Know the Basics for Sure

Anthropologist Vanderbilt and World Health Organization well being adviser, Ted Fischer share their thoughts and ideas of how to begin this New Year.

Money is not all about it, they agree as people have realised it long back.


Fischer is the author of "The Good Life," where he studied German supermarket shoppers and Guatemalan coffee farmers to discover what hopes and dreams they share, and how anthropology can tell us about what the "good life" means for all of us.

Fischer describes the good life not as a goal in and of itself, but a journey. The principles, which make a good life, involves, having realistic aspirations, sufficient opportunity to realize those aspirations, a sense of dignity and being able to pursue a life with purpose.

Fischer found that these principles hold true for both middle-class Germans and poor Guatemalan Mayans. And, he suggests, we have a lot to learn from understandings of well being around the world for our own lives and livelihoods.

The aspiration does not vary much for a Mayan farmer and a German super-market shopper. Both groups want to improve their lots, and they want their children to have better lives than they had.

The Mayans initially worked as labourers as they resided up the hill where cultivation was not feasible. Later, a market has emerged for coffee grown at very high altitudes, allowing the Maya to grow coffee on their own land instead of down on the plantations.

This shift in the market gave the Maya the opportunity to transform from laborers to entrepreneurs—a transformation that has had tangible economic and social benefits for Maya communities.

Aspirations without opportunity lead to frustrations, even societal upheaval, as was seen with the Arab Spring, Fischer said.

Being able to live according to a greater purpose is the final component of the good life. While aspirations tend to be smaller, individual goals, purpose encompasses the big-picture ideals to which we dedicate our lives.

"It could be big things like religion; it could be small things like our trade or craft--but we want to be committed to something bigger than ourselves," Fischer said.

Source: Medindia
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