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  • Writer's pictureAnya Smirnova

What Makes a Good Life?

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

For many, life just like before the pandemic will feel like a good life today. But what makes a good life whatever the circumstances, a life of satisfaction, of contentment.

Not many people consciously think of it. We are all prone to getting busy with the daily responsibilities of working, parenting, chores, caring for dependents. The life perspective often hits us when we become elderly and see our life horizon, or we face an extraordinary event, e.g. a severe illness or loss. For me, it was becoming a mum.

The arrival of my son changed every realm of my living.

Looking for answers, I went to train as a coach and hired a great coach. That was life-changing. I found version 1.0 of my life meaning, clarified my values and negotiated our family values with my husband, wrote my self-discovery manual, read books, watched webinars, listened to podcasts, clipped magazine articles and draw visualisations, attended lectures, reviewed different schools of thought on human behaviour, got insights from my coaching clients, peers and mentors, my family, all of different backgrounds, age and cultures, reviewed my habits on sleep, eating, exercise, responding to stress and spirituality, practiced mindfulness, reviewed dozens of different methodologies on parenting, career, leadership, female leadership, dealing with the overwhelm, efficiency, time management, life perspectives, life balance and happiness.

Here are the seven lessons of this six-year-long journey, trial and error.

1. Your basic needs need to be met. If you are worried about your safety, security, food, there is no space for reflecting on your life, you are in a survival mode. The question here is: what do you see as basic needs, and when are they sufficiently met?

2. What is your relationship with money? How much it affects or drives your life choices? When you have more, you spend more, and there will always be things you cannot afford.

3. Happiness comes first. Let go of the ceaseless frenzy, always thinking of the next milestone. If you make your happiness conditional on those milestones, on your success or achievements, you are bound to be always running after it.

4. Notice what is happening HERE and NOW. What brings you contentment in simple daily things? My family lived on Reunion Island for a year. It's a French island in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, the size of London with two 3,000m tall volcanoes, one continuously erupting. As a city girl, I lacked entertainment options. Until I learnt from the locals. Every weekend the whole family plus friends (30-40 people) go for an all-day picnic on the beach. They bring casseroles of food, set up tents and start campfires. They do not even swim, just talk, play games, laugh, sing and dance. It reminded me of my childhood summers at my grandparents' house when my extended family would do just that - enjoy simple pleasures, relax into being with the people who value you.

5. A nearly 80-year long Harvard study on happiness followed the lives of 268 men (no women I must note) from the age of 18 until their final days. Their conclusion on what keeps us happy and healthy is – our relationships. Good relationships and how happy we are in our relationships are as important as looking after our physical health. In coaching, we give a lot of attention to our relationships, because supportive environments (at home, at work, in your community, friendships) give us wings, notice our strengths, support our choices, help us up when we fall, while unfriendly or hostile environments drain our energy.

6. Never compare your life to others. Never compare yourself, your partner, your children, siblings to each other, your home. Comparison kills happiness. Also, by looking over the fence you will be living someone else's life.

7. So take time to step away from your duty station, go up on the captain's bridge and see where do you want your ship to sail. Do it today. Another way is to imagine it's your 80th birthday - where is that party, what it is the mood of the party, who do you see coming to congratulate you, what are they saying to you, how do you reflect on your life? How would taking these captain/80th birthday perspectives change what you view as important and the choices you make for where to focus your energy and spend your time today? Try it. Your dreams of your life is the door to living a content life.

If you need support, you like talking through things, you need structure or you want to do it faster, reach out. Exploring your authentic choices in a safe coaching environment is a great way to clarify your direction, build your supportive crew and create a resourceful toolbox for the journey.



You have just found out your are pregnant and want to prepare for it. Or you have just had a baby and are navigating this new world of being a mum and a professional, enquire about our coaching around childbirth for professional & personal goals & postnatal health.

Corporate coaching & events on postnatal health and impact on career growth and performance, more information available here.



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