5 Steps To Live a Psychologically Rich Life

Your Think
3 min readJan 22, 2022

Many of us want to have a good life, but when we put the concept of “good” under the proverbial microscope, we all mean different things. In psychology, we’ve traditionally understood this to be a choice between a happy life and a meaningful one. Recently, researchers Lorraine Besser and Shigehiro Oishi explored the concept of a “psychologically rich life” as a third potential route into a good life.

While some are unable to live a happy life, it does not mean they choose to live with purpose and meaning.

Instead, they may seek out novel experiences that enrich their lives, plumbing the gamut from low-cost and free activities to those that require investing in more resources. These include travel, literature, film, sports, music, and the arts. Essentially, they seek the aesthetic of life, whether via the richness of one’s inner explorations or finding beauty in everyday mundanity.

1. You have a solid reason for getting up.

You do not need a big, grand reason for getting up. You do not need to spring out of bed with your battery charge on 100. Who does that anyway? You just need a good, solid reason for being then on Planet Earth. Like doing your work well, feeding your family, making your art, serving your community, looking after your neighbors. Just commodity in your life that makes you feel okay, that you’re making your donation to the melting pot of the lesser good.

2. You should enjoy the little pleasures of life.

Novelist and champion Iris Murdoch said, "One of the secrets of a happy life is nonstop small treats."I love that. I also know that in the epidemic-smashed world of the last two times, numerous of those nonstop little treats have been taken down and that is been hard on our internal health. But, still, amidst all the struggle, there have been some good times, some fun, indeed a joy. Show me the person who can immerse themselves in the little, frequently daily, pleasures of life, and I will show you a happy bone.
This does not mean you are all touchy-feely and go around hugging everyone you meet. Weird. And, in 2022, veritably, veritably wrong. But you're compassionate, interested, a good listener; you're the person who tries to warm up the lives of everyone who matters to you. Actually, indeed people who don't.

3. You can create warmth in relationships.

This doesn’t mean you’re all touchy-feely and go around hugging everyone you meet. Weird. And, in 2022, very, very wrong. But you are empathetic, interested, a good listener; you are the person who tries to warm up the lives of everyone who matters to you. Actually, even people who don’t.

4. You give yourself fully — but not insanely — to your work.

You lock in on your work. Whether you’re in a job you love (lucky you) or a job you don’t love or a job that is a step on some sort of ladder or a means to an end — you give 100% to it. That doesn’t mean working crazy hours or answering emails at midnight. That’s slightly insane, not to mention unhealthy.

Work is a wonderful way of stimulating and challenging ourselves and feeling a sense of pride and achievement. But if your life is a subset of your work — not the other way around — then you’re getting something wrong.

5. You don’t engage in, and get distracted by Others

The Rant is everywhere. The Rant is people talking, yelling, writing, posting, tweeting their own opinions, and — in doing so — trying to bully others into believing they are right or cool or a leader or Someone Who Should Be Listened To. Sigh. How boring. And, also, misguided. People can’t be persuaded to other views against their will. It just won’t happen. If anything, they’ll cling even tighter to their own thoughts and ways. To persuade people to do anything you need to get inside their own cage and find out what’s happening in there, what motivates them, what they value.

Engaging in The Rant is distracting, it scatters your attention, it stops you from doing wholeheartedly what you’re meant to do — or anything.

So don’t rant. Please don’t rant. Just quietly state your opinions and let the rest of us decide what to do with them.

Finally, consider the relationship among all three facets of a good life; they don’t stand alone. When you enhance one, you can strengthen another as a byproduct — a win-win that doesn’t take much effort. This teaches you how to optimally allocate your resources of time, energy, and money too.