What makes a good life? Not in the sense of ‘the good life’, La Dolce Vita, or ‘making a good living’ – rather, in the sense of a life lived well.

How a good life is defined shifted in the consumer age: it became about ‘goods and services’ rather than character and service. Breaking the grip of that consumer consciousness is hard: consumerism is an iron fist in a very attractive velvet glove!

Are there any inspiring stories of people pursuing a good life, even though it means swimming against the tide of consumerist culture?

One candidate is ‘The Good Life’, a 1970s BBC sitcom about a suburban family trying to live sustainably. The consciousness shift that triggered their change is described in Wikipedia:

‘On his 40th birthday, Tom Good is no longer able to take his job seriously and gives up work as a draughtsman for a company that makes plastic toys for breakfast cereal packets. Their house is paid for so he and his wife Barbara adopt a sustainable, simple and self sufficient lifestyle while staying in their home in The Avenue, Surbiton’.

Tom was living a life that was ‘nothing more than work and consumption’, as the BBC website explains: ‘Tom and Barbara would just be lone loons were it not for their neighbours, the henpecked Jerry Leadbetter and wife Margot, a social climber who cannot bear chickens wandering the back garden. The Good Life attacked the middle class and the ‘alternative’ lifestyle at once, showing Margot’s snobbishness as blindness, and Tom’s fanatical self-sufficiency as going too far.’

That’s an example of a how story, with its inner tensions, can get us thinking in new ways. Yet how to find time to engage with such stories – especially together?

Here’s an idea: at North Farm, a theme for events in 2013 is ‘Good Life, Good Daywhich means Gai and I will be exploring what makes a good life, and a good day.

Our initial gatherings will be short-term rather than ongoing, and we’re calling them Shifting Circles’. They will be free, with gold coin donations welcomed.

The first Shifting Circle is on 11 March, 6.00 – 7.30pm, and will be followed by three fortnightly gatherings. Excerpts from ‘The Good Life’ will be shown.

Contact Jen on 6655 1948 or [email protected] if you’re interested.

Fiona Crosskill will host a second fortnightly Shifting Circle starting on Monday 18 March, and will focus on contemporary radical thinkers on consciousness, such as Barbara Marx Hubbard. Fiona can be contacted on [email protected]

The Good Life - North Farm Loving Nature Retreat Space


2 responses to “Shifting Circles: reflecting on ‘a good life’”

  1. Gai Stern says:


  2. Thank you for the great post

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