Attaining The Good Life as a PMP Project Manager

Aristotle The Good Lifeby Don Goewey

We all want to live a good life. And it is just as true that most of us want the life we live to open the way for an even better life for the next generation. It is an ideal that has been with us for more than 2,000 years. The ideal of the Good Life was originally formulated by Aristotle around 400 BC in the Nichomachean Ethics. It served as the vision and aspiration that sustained the Greeks for hundreds of years in advancing one of the greatest civilizations in human history. Ironically, Aristotle’s ideal does not define a life situation, such as material wealth. Rather, it defines an attitude toward life.

The Good Life is a state of flourishing at every level that matters.

  • It’s a sense of prosperity, internally, that manifests externally.
  • It’s living fully; being joyful and at peace: Meaning we enjoy our work and our life.
  • We are at peace within, comfortable in our own skin; comfortable with people, and calm under siege.
  • It is also fulfilling our innate potential.
  • It is the joy of excelling at whatever we do, along with the sense of making a contribution.

The ancient Greeks actually defined joy as “the full use of our powers along lines of excellence.” Who wouldn’t want to live a life that fit the profile above. It is the description of an intrinscially rewarding existence.

A Stressful Life

If we want to attain the good life, which we have the inherent right to live, the primary condition we need to overcome is stress. A stressful life is the polar opposite of the good life. It is an anxious life incapable of sustaining the joy and peace that engenders creative intelligence. Stress is fear. Biologically, it takes some form of fear to activate a stress reaction, and when stress becomes chronic, we pay a heavy price.

Stress makes us sick, prematurely ages us, and ultimately shortens our life. There are a million people out of work everyday due to stress (American Institute of Stress). Nearly 80% of serious illness is preceded by high stress in the previous year (AMA, 2004). A hundred years ago, the #1 killer of human beings was bacteria and viruses. Stress now holds that distinction.

Stress shortens our fuse which, in turn, shortens our relationships. Chronic stress activates a primitive survival mechanism that locks the brain into threat mode and emotional negativity.

Stress hormones debilitate higher order brain function that generates creativity and produces everything we think of as intelligence. Obviously, this is not the expansive life sustained by the joy of excelling.

Do what you can to remove stress from your day and you will soon find that you’ll be experiencing the good life!

If you found these tips from Don Goewey of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at 

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