How to live the good life

You know the recipe…eat well, exercise, practice gratitude, and manage your stress.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.  Or is it?  If we know the recipe for The Good Life, and the recipe was actually this simple, why are so many people unhappy, overweight, on antidepressants, high cholesterol meds, anti-anxiety meds, the list goes on and on.

Maybe it’s because we are told one thing but our environment does everything to set us up for the opposite?  Maybe The Good Life takes too much work?  Maybe The Good Life has to be redefined?

I do know that I’ve met a lot of people while we’ve lived this way who tell me that how we are living is their dream or that they’ve always wanted to do this, so I assume to some people this lifestyle we live must be part of The Good Life.  Regardless, we think it’s a Good Life.  If not, we wouldn’t work so hard to preserve it.

San Diego Family pic

Look, I promise you, I’ve been there.  I’ve looked the reality in the face, I’ve tried following the rules, and I am still saying, hell no. 

I’ve lived the Good Life for a very long time. 

I don’t wake to an alarm clock. I sip my freshly ground coffee with my loved ones before loading the boards on my crappy car, throw my cheap backpack on my back before hitting the trail, grab my hand-me-down draws before sending a new rock wall, or jump on my less than impressive mountain bike to flow down a trail. 

A glass of wine is waiting for me after my fun along with a huge dinner of bread, cheese, meat, and veggies. 

I’m constantly immersed in nature— under the canopy of the forest, on the summit of a mountain peak, at the edge of the earth watching a sunset.  

I’m telling you, The Good Life is totally possible, but if you think it’s something as easy as eating well, exercising, practicing gratitude, and managing stress you will be set up for failure.  It is much, much harder than that.

In fact, in this world of instant gratification, where everyone expects the easy and fast solution, The Good Life may not exist because The Good Life requires three things that no one talks about these days…discipline, hard work, and sacrifice.

I might be talking to you millennials or even baby boomers—I know…you’re “pretty good”. Honestly, I really don’t believe your birth date has that much to do with it. 

To me, it starts with aligning desire and actions.  What the F#$% do you want?  What is your definition of The Good Life?

Obviously, for me, The Good Life is driven by waking refreshed and excited to do the sports I love and surrounding myself with the people I love the most. I really don’t care about owning the newest cars, eating at the latest hipster restaurant, or having a large 401K. I’m sure waiting your whole life to retire and do the things you love when your body is too broken to do them is appealing to some, but I’d rather do without some creature comforts and enjoy my life now.  

Your Good Life might be totally different, but I doubt it involves sitting in hours of traffic, constantly having to check your phone, or always feeling like you are running behind. 

Hopefully, you like your job and feel like it uses your skillset well and you feel appreciated for your talents. If so, your stress level might be tolerable and if it means hopping into a yoga class once or twice a week to reconnect with your intention and body then so be it. 

But what if your stress is more than that?  

If you are living in sabertooth mode (you know, feeling like you are on high alert so as to not be attacked at any moment) then you will need a lot more than just an occasional yoga to live The Good Life.  

The Good Life Rule #1: Breathe

Goal: Sit in silence a just breathe for 5 mintues twice a day.

Best Yoga Poses For Hikers: Feel Stronger & Recover Faster
Low lunge with twist

First things first, you need to decompress DAILY.  Once a week won’t be enough.  It doesn’t have to be yoga every day.  In fact, mix it up.  Keep it fun, lively, and playful.  It can’t feel like a chore though. 

One of the best things about the current time that we live in is that we have options.  Find something, anything, to RE-Create yourself every single day. 

Find YOU… the inner you, not the loud one who has an opinion about everything and needs to be heard by the world.  Just have a conversation with yourself every day. 

While you are at it, prioritize yourself more.  Say no to obligations.  Drop the expectations of doing everything for everyone else.  Start small and keep it manageable, then, go ahead and expand outwards to give your time to others.  

The Good Life Rule #2: Eat Better

Goal: Learn to make all your meals from whole foods.

Food from Luz-Saint-Sauveur, Best Day Hike Cirque de Gavarnie in the French Pyrenees
Food from Luz-Saint-Sauveur

Okay, so now you’ve checked off the “manage stress factor”.  What about the eating right part? 

The worst thing you eat at home is probably better than the best thing you eat out. I personally think eating out is the worst for maintaining a healthy diet. It’s hard to trust what you get when you eat out. Plus, most so-called healthy restaurants are loaded with sugar. You’re much better off having small treats at home while also prioritizing making really healthy meals at home.

Use the 80-20 rule.  Eat really good 80% of the time—greens, veggies, well-sourced meats, no processed food.  Indulge 20% of the time by eating some foods that make your brain dance even if it’s not the best for your digestive system, hormones, and blood sugar regulation. 

For example, while I’m writing this I’m drinking a glass of wine and eating a few Trader Joe’s mini dark chocolate mint stars.  They are horrible for you.  They have soy, palm oil, corn starch, and the worst evil of the twenty-first century … gluten.  They are delicious though, right?! 

If you sat in an office all day, this may be the worst go-to when you are hungry.  However, when you live The Good Life and you surfed two hours and then rock climbed another hour and haven’t eaten all day (which is a long period of detox) then it’s not quite as bad. 

Of course, a salad and high protein meal (which I’m about to eat when this is done) would be a better option, but to me, living the Good Life means eating a salad and cookies too!

The problem arises when your ratio becomes 50-50 or worse.  You have to put the good things in your body and not worry about the little bad stuff that sneaks in.

Here is the biggest problem in most people’s attempts to “eat right”—planning and time.  Eating good requires planning your meals ahead of time.  If you wait until you are hungry, you will probably make a bad decision.  And cooking healthy meals takes time.  You actually have to chop, dice, and sáute.  Make time to prepare your own meals from well-sourced meats and lots of veggies.

The Good Life Rule #3: Exercise

Goal: Find a sport or activity that excites you and feels playful. Do it often and spend a few hours a day doing strength, flexibility, and prehab training so you continue to improve in that sport or activity.

City of Rocks: Idaho Adventure Family Road Trip
Classics are classics for a reason

So now you’ve managed your stress and you made time to prepare healthy foods, but there are those dumbbells sitting in the corner of your living room screaming at you, “You haven’t lifted me in a while!”

You have a gym membership, right?  And I’m sure you’ve justified why it’s cost-effective. After all, at $50 a month if you go twice a week that’s only a little more than $6 per visit.  Totally doable. 

Or worse, you go every day (making it extremely cost-effective at only a little more than a dollar a day) but you aren’t really improving.  You aren’t much leaner and you don’t really like going, but you’ve been told you should go so here you are disciplined to live The Good Life but wondering if it really “Sparks Joy”.

Stop going to the gym if it doesn’t spark joy.  It isn’t necessarily healthier.

But you have to move. Your body that is. And often.  

I don’t care if it’s in the gym, at the park, taking dance lessons, hiking up a mountain.  Just move and move at the bare minimum an hour a day. 

Personally, I have to spend half my day moving in order to feel good.  My kids are the same.  As long as they are moving, everything falls into place.  As soon as we sit too long, our qi becomes stagnant and all our demons come out. 

We become irritable and grumpy. 

There is peace in movement, but more importantly, there is health in movement.   But, don’t give up that gym membership yet because when you start moving, you might actually want to move better or you might get so much joy out of moving that you want to stay injury-free so that you can keep moving or you may even want to improve your movement ability.  That’s where the gym comes in. 

Strength and mobility are the keys to The Good Life.

Think about it. You want to enjoy your life and I doubt sitting watching TV all hours of the day are your recipe for success (and if it is, why are you still reading this!?).  Deep down, you have some goals you want to achieve.  It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as running a 5K race or summiting Kilimanjaro, there is a desire in each one of us.  Whether we want to acknowledge it or accept that it may take a lot of work, it’s there.  And the secret to achieving it is not sexy or glamorous.  But it is actually quite easy when you are disciplined enough to set aside a half-hour a day to either improving mobility, flexibility, strength, or rehab exercises.

If you need guidance with this, check out Victor’s Guide to Functional Strength Training Course to guide you in the steps you need to achieve your goals.  

For the Good Life, you need more then just 30-minutes of strength or pre-hab work. Find ways to get OUTSIDE and PLAY!  Pick up a new sport.  Get social and find a hiking group.  Find something that excites you and doesn’t feel like work.


The Good Life Rule #4: Be Thankful and Show It

Goal: Keep a gratitude journal and make sure the things you are writing in it are things you are truly grateful for achieving.

family photo at the beach

Truly feeling happy at the end of each day is the epitome of The Good Life. 

Sure I yelled at my kids today, but they deserved it.  They were lazy, selfish, and entitled at moments and I called them on it.  Hey, it’s a tough world and if they don’t step it up, they will never be able to create their own Good Life. 

I also hugged them often, cooked with them, surfed and climbed with them, shopped with them, talked with them (a lot—they never stop talking). 

I get a lot of satisfaction out of my days and try to go to bed with a warm feeling of happiness and the ability to take deep cleansing breaths that fill my soul with gratitude for the effort and reward of a day spent working hard, playing hard, eating well, and managing stress.    

If you don’t have that sense of gratitude at the end of the day, you can’t live The Good Life and it may be time to purge and realign your desires with your priorities.  

The Good Life Rule #5: Who Owns What?

Goal: Align your stuff with what truly sparks joy in your life.

Small spaces, Why RV Living with Kids is Awesome

There’s another big factor in living the Good Life that is often overlooked- Your Stuff. 

All the things you own, really own you.  Ask Van-Lifers why they are so happy and they will all agree … It’s the Freedom. The ability to come and go as they please. 

Now I’m not saying you need to sell all your belongings and live in a van, but I am saying you need to align your stuff with what is actually important to you. 

That garage full of boxes that you may go through one day could be preventing you from living the Good Life.   

We all spend a lot of time and energy making money to accumulate this stuff and then to store it, when often what makes us happiest are the experiences we do with the people we love. 

Think about this … What did you really need to be happy today? 

As I mentioned, I drive an old beat-up car that my dad just gave me because our van broke. I would never pick this car if I had money to spend (which I don’t), but the craziest thing happened. I love having this car.  I can easily throw my surfboards on top.  It gets me to the beach, the climbing gym, and Trader Joe’s and best of all it has a really big trunk to store all my climbing gear, groceries, and wetsuits.  In living The Good Life, function has become the prime ruler in my days.  

The Good Life Rule #6: Need vs Want

Goal: Be honest with yourself about what you truly need.

Squamish on our summer adventure road trip
Our campsite at Alice Lake

I’ve also become really good at reusing old items, using things much longer than I would have in the past, and learning to do without.  This time of the year (the holidays) is marked by consumerism, waste, and excess.  And while it can be fun and there are definitely some things even an adventure and wellness girl like myself can’t do without, it is also important to be aware of what we want and what we need.  And don’t forget to teach your kids the difference too 🙂

The Good Life Rule #7: Harness Your Hulk


Observation Beach, How to backpack Abel Tasman: 3-4 day Abel Tasman Backpacking Itinerary
Sunrise at Observation Beach

The last part of the Good Life is using “emotional intelligence”.  Learning to let things go.  Lowering your expectations of everyone else, but staying highly accountable to your own moral code.  This one is definitely the hardest for me. 

I can exercise, meditate, cook, practice gratitude, and purge my belongings, but when my desires and ideologies don’t match up with the ones I want to spend my time with, it can spell disaster. 

I’m a work in progress just like you.  We all have our issues, but as long as we are aware of what The Good Life means to each one of us and are ready to commit the time, discipline, and hard work that is needed to achieve it, then The Good Life becomes the life you live every single day.

What does “The Good Life” mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!

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I’d love to help you create your version of The Good Life! In my Project LIFE course, I teach you how to achieve your goals by harnessing your strengths, passions, and core desires into an achievable plan. Learn more here.

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