How to live a good life [Book Review]

Posted by in Books & Films

The first time I heard about Jonathan Fields was when, in 2017, Chris Guillebeau mentioned attending Camp GLP. He got me curious. I then found out that the author of How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom was going to give an Academy at the 2017 edition of WDS and I started listening to a few episodes of his podcast: Good Life Project. Very soon, I was hooked.

The New-York ex-lawyer, ex-yoga studio owner, turned writer and science geek has very deep and meaningful conversations with people I truly admire: Chris Guillebeau, of course, but also Liz Gilbert, Brenée Brown, Seth Godin, Leo Babauta, Tim Ferriss… and so many more that I discovered, episode after episode.

Of course, I signed-up for the Academy. His message then?

When you align who you are with what you do, in the service of something bigger than yourself that takes a substantial effort, you step into a place of fully expressed purpose, passion and potential. You become Sparked!

I signed up again this year and learned about the 7P Success Scaffolding, but more than that, on a whim, I picked up his book at the WDS bookstore.

Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom

 As I mentioned in my Summer Review, the book is laid out around three buckets: Vitality, Connection and Contribution. Jonathan Fields believes that a balance in the fulfilment of each of these buckets is the secret to this much desired “Good Life”.

For each of the buckets, the author offers a series of actionable ideas, heart-warming stories and scientific explanations. He never pretends to know-it-all but, instead, relies on the work of many other thinkers and scientists. This is one of the things I like most about Jonathan Fields: he never tries to build a safely-guarded community around himself. On the contrary, he opens you up to the work of others and links to several useful resources. It’s up to you, then to follow the paths he puts you on or not.

Since I read the book, I have followed several of the paths he opened for me:

That’s only a few examples, and there’s still a lot more I want to look into on my list.

The other thing I really like about Jonathan Fields is that he never imposes his definition of what a “good life” is. Actually, at the end of each of his podcast conversations, he asks: “If I offer you the phrase “to live a good life”, what comes up?” And the responses are multiple and inspiring.

What’s not to love, right?

Well, there’s more. At WDS Kickoff Party in July, I mustered the courage to walk up to Jonathan Fields who was observing the festivities from a far (probably recharging his introvert batteries) and thank him for a wonderful conference that same afternoon. He graciously listened to me and, instead of thanking me away, as I would expect anyone to do when disturbed while trying to get a little bit of peace, he asked me questions about my visit to Portland and my plans for after the conference. The conversation was short (I didn’t want to bother him too long) but very sweet, and made me admire the man even more.

I feel very lucky that I found people like Jonathan Fields to inspire me to contribute to my own life but also to the life of others, and I highly encourage everyone to check out his work.

Photo by Danica Tanjutco