Last summer, as I was driving my youngest son to summer camp, I found myself listening to Colorado Public Radio, the Colorado member station of National Public Radio. On that day, there was a report about people who live near the Colorado state lines and how different their life is from those who live in Denver. During this report, we heard a recording of a farmer who lived in one of the most remote areas of Colorado. The farmer was a simple man who talked about the extreme difficulties that exist in being a farmer on this particular piece of land. At the end of the interview, the farmer said, in a most humble way, “it’s a wonderful life.”  I believed him but I also felt surprised by this because the interview led me to believe his life was difficult. As the report was ending, I found myself in my head with many thoughts and meaningful questions, ones that helped me think about how I define my own life.

As we enter the second month of not only a new year but also a new decade, I offer you some of the questions that surfaced for me about what makes a wonderful life. US News & World Reports published a story in 2015 stating that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the 2nd week of February. This statistic makes me think we may be making our resolutions based on what we think will make us happy without asking questions about what makes a wonderful life? These questions are meant for reflection and may not have an immediate answer because what makes a wonderful life isn’t an easy answer. As you think about your answers to all of these questions, try to think about just your feelings, and about what you love and what is true for you.

How do you define what makes a wonderful life? 

One of the best things about life is that for each one of us, the definition of what makes a wonderful life is unique and different. When you think of a wonderful life, does it include having many friends or just a few close friends? Does it include biological family, chosen family, or both? Does it include having “stuff” like cars and clothes or does the “stuff” not matter? Do you have to own a big house to be happy or is living in a smaller house or an apartment enough? Does living a life of having just “enough” make for a wonderful life?

How do you look at your life?

Do you ever think about your life as a whole? If you ever have or often do think about your life, are you hard on yourself or are you forgiving and understanding?  Do you give yourself the freedom to start over every day with the intention of creating a wonderful life? Do you believe that only easy lives are wonderful?

Can a difficult life be a wonderful life?

Often we make conclusions about ourselves and our lives based on the age old act of judging ourselves against how we see others. Social media is the most recent way to judge this and if we use social media frequently, we could be judging our lives too harshly, what we see on social media isn’t always a true story. Are you judging your life based on how others are living their life? If you judge your life harshly, can your life ever be enough? Is it possible to have difficult circumstances in your life and still feel that you are living a wonderful life?

Do you have a sentence, like the farmer’s, that could sum up your life?

Defining what a wonderful life is to you can help you to be more gentle with yourself and aware of how your life is already good.

Knowing what makes a wonderful life, for you, creates a way to make the decision making in your life easier. You can weigh the big and small opportunities/dilemmas against what makes a wonderful life; if the decision doesn’t lead you to a wonderful life, then the answer is “don’t do it.”

I wonder if this is what the farmer knew when he said “it’s a wonderful life?” That even though his life near the Colorado state line was difficult, he was doing what he loved and for him that made his whole life wonderful!