Life Well Led

In Jeffrey Archer’s book Mightier Than The Sword (opens in a new link), a character’s eulogy included this reference to a life well led:

“He never knew what envy was, nor hate;

His soul was filled with worth and honesty.

And with another thing besides, quite out of date,

Called modesty.”

Let’s examine each of these in more detail to gain a greater understanding of their importance to a life well led.


Envy is an emotion in which we feel that others are more fortunate than we are…that they possess or have achieved something that we desire. Instead of asking ourselves why life is so unfair, we ought to be asking ourselves “Am I willing to do what’s necessary to possess what they possess or achieve what they’ve achieved?”

If the answer to this question is yes, then take the steps necessary to gain what you desire. If not, then acknowledge the fact that you’re unwilling to do what’s required…that the payback isn’t worth the effort. In doing so, you’ll quickly regain enjoyment and appreciation for the life you’ve chosen.


Hate is one of the most self-destructive emotions that we experience…if we nurture it. We see evidence of this almost daily in the mass killings that occur. The hate that the perpetrators of these mass killings feel has been nurtured for years before they begin their killing spree.

I firmly believe that the self-loathing they feel, which is deflected to others, causes them to inflict violence on others in hopes of alleviating their pain. When that doesn’t work, they kill themselves to end their pain. Obviously, not all who hate commit acts of violence, but even they inflict upon themselves fear, anxiety, frustration and the attendant health issues that these stressors create, not to mention feelings of loneliness and despair.


The sense of worth is one of feeling both valued and valuable. It comes from an awareness of the positive impact that one has on others’ lives. That sense usually stems from small acts of kindness:

  • A smile
  • Encouraging words
  • A compliment acknowledging some quality or talent the person possesses

As you impart these kindnesses to others on their behalf, you not only benefit them, you feel better about yourself for having enriched another’s life and you receive their love in return.


Being honest in all dealings benefits all. You feel good about yourself because you are being honest. The recipient of your honest feedback gains insights into aspects of their language and behavior that doesn’t serve them well so that they can change accordingly.

Those who are not open, who resent honest feedback, don’t gain the benefit you intend, but you still have the benefit of knowing that you did what you could to help the person enjoy greater success.

People who employ honesty know that being honest and being encouraging are not mutually-exclusive activities. Indeed, the best honesty creates awareness and encourages changes that benefits all involved.


Modesty isn’t so much a matter of being unaware of how good we are at something; rather it’s being aware that others possess skills, abilities and talents that we don’t possess. Awareness of this reality is what enables us to be modest…to realize that we are not any more special than anyone else.

Modest people do not hide, nor deny, their capabilities. Indeed, they use them often, and well, in the service of others. What they don’t do is take credit for their abilities…even though they may have put in a lot work to enhance their abilities.

As you can see, living a life without envy or hate, but with worth, honesty and modesty, leads to a life well led. The question is “How can I assure myself the benefits of a life well led?”

For you

If you’re already leading such a life, congratulations! You are living a life that brings you and all you meet great joy.

If, as most of us are, you are struggling with one or more of these five elements of a life well led, here are some tips to help you enjoy life more.

Whenever envy raises it’s ugly head ask yourself: “Am I willing to do what’s necessary to gain what others possess?” If so, go for it. If not, you’ll regain the joy you previously had when you make a conscious, objective choice not to pursue something that isn’t all that important to you.

When you experience hate, remind yourself that you are deflecting pain you’re experiencing. Find the source of your pain (hint: it’s not others), then adjust your thinking and behaviors in a way that alleviates your pain without harming others.

To continuously experience feelings of being valued and valuable, commit to making everyone you meet better off than before you met. All that it takes is a smile, a few encouraging words, or a reason to laugh to accomplish this feat. You can enjoy success multiple times a day using these simple acts of kindness. In doing so, you assure yourself that you have worth.

If you struggle with honesty, and many of us do when it involves delivering messages that others don’t want to hear, then remind yourself that you can be both honest and encouraging in delivering your message. You’ll find that once you develop this mindset, the language you need comes quickly and easily to you.

It’s always feels good to be recognized for the good we do. The modest among us don’t seek recognition, but appreciate it when it comes. To maintain a modest demeanor, when you’re complimented, be grateful while simultaneously reminding yourself that you were blessed with the skills and abilities you possess just as others are equally blessed in different ways.

Finally, to develop the habit of thinking in the ways just described, choose only one of the five to work on. Each morning, shortly after rising, commit to the actions suggested for that item. Then in the evening, shortly before retiring, recall the success you had during the day as well as what you learned from experiences when you weren’t as successful as you’d have liked. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your new way of thinking becomes your default way of thinking.

For our kids

When you see kids struggling with any of these five elements of a life well led, share with them the lessons outlined above. In doing so, be sure to share what struggles you might have had as well as how you retrained your mind to produce a better result.

Most importantly, live these messages. Kids pay closer attention to what we do than what we say.

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Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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