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The Good Life

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  312 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
"No one can promise you that a life lived for others will bring you a deep sense of satisfaction, but it's certain that nothing else will."

Hugh Mackay has spent his entire working life asking Australians about their values, motivations, ambitions, hopes and fears. Now, in The Good Life, he addresses the ultimate question: What makes a life worth living?

His conclusion is pr
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Macmillian Australia
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Jan 11, 2014 Robin rated it really liked it
This is a thought-provoking book about, as Hugh Mackay puts it in the introduction, 'a morally praiseworthy life...a life devoted to the common good.' Initially I thought that sounded rather bland and unexciting, pious even, but as the book developed, I found it wasn't the case at all. The author makes several important points about modern society, particularly regarding the 'Utopia complex' - the self-indulgent search for happiness which often makes people more miserable, and how the emphasis ...more
Anne Lynch
Oct 22, 2013 Anne Lynch rated it liked it
It is always good to think about how we behave and how we could live a better life. As with all of these books about finding a meaning to our life however, much of it is common sense and maybe for that reason I find them a little obvious. Having said that he does write very well, except some of the examples were really lame, the chicken story anyone? I am also still tortured by the idea that any woman over 40 still wearing jeans is just trying to desperately hold onto their youth. Does not ...more
May 11, 2013 Mary-lou rated it really liked it
I agree with almost all of Mackays reflections. His main theory is a good life is not found by thinking an happy, utopian,life is a good life. A good life involves treating others as you would like to be treated in all situations. He seems to think this involves some effort and the ability to let go of our own importance. I think this state is reached not through negating the self but by coming to a deep understanding of the Self. The Self being that universal unchanging part of us which is ...more
Kylie Purdie
Aug 20, 2013 Kylie Purdie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-read
Hugh Mackay defines the good life as one lived for others - "defined by our capacity for selflessness, the quality of our relationships and out willingness to connect with others in a useful way."

Mackay suggests that our focus on ourselves, the misplaced importance on accumulating money and possessions is leading us into a misguided idea of a good life. He has no problem with money and possessions - just the use of them to measure our worth.
Instead he suggests that a truly good life is lead if y
Jun 16, 2014 Jill rated it liked it
As I read this I found myself nodding in agreement with many of the author's points. However, as I read on it felt like he was just stating the obvious. After all, if we listen to the media or our own commonsense then we know that material possessions don't necessarily bring happiness and that good relationships are the key to a successful life. Or do we? Hugh Mackay seems to think that we don't and his book is like an overlong sermon that some of us don't want to hear. From the anecdotes in his ...more
Jul 08, 2016 Meaghan rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Thought-provoking on both a personal and professional level. Like all his books, I will return to this at times as he has such an insightful style. He is often able to give words to something that has only been a nebulous concept for me.
Martyn Shedd
Jun 01, 2013 Martyn Shedd rated it really liked it
There are a lot of how truths here I would like to see kids reading this because it might set them on a better path. It is eminently readable thought at sometimes labored.
Kathy Reid
Jul 03, 2013 Kathy Reid rated it really liked it
Insightful, well researched and challenging.
Cheryl Ryan
Aug 07, 2013 Cheryl Ryan rated it really liked it
Just read first chapter and thoroughly enjoying his analysis of the Utopia Complex.
Jan 30, 2014 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book 5 stars on the basis that I was constantly recommending it to people and writing down quotes that I wanted to hold on to. On that basis I consider it deserving of 5 stars. In a way it was a tough read, as it pulled me up on my self indulgent and self absorbed tendencies. It also posits that happiness is not the be all we should be aiming for, or even skewed towards, criticising for example the suggestion that we should list things we should be grateful for every day. ...more
Nov 14, 2016 ImLucky rated it it was amazing
It is one of the best book I have read so far.
The good life is all about sharing and giving rather then taking and boasting about yourself.
Enjoy this book guys.
Cheers & thanks for wonderful thoughts.
Sep 17, 2016 Angela rated it really liked it
Sobering and uplifting as well.
Tim Hollo
Feb 09, 2015 Tim Hollo rated it really liked it
High Mackay really is one of the great Australians, isn't he? He writes so clearly and empathetically on the human condition. That said, I suspect that if I hadn't been meaning to read this book for so long, I would have enjoyed it a lot more and got more out of the earlier chapters. As it was, it was really the final chapters that made it the important book it is, for me. Most particularly, the chapter on A Good Death was very moving and fascinatingly thought through.

Mackay's own encapsulation
Robert Ditterich
Jul 18, 2013 Robert Ditterich rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
In a sense I felt at home in this book because Hugh gives an experienced and authoritative voice to thoughts that are intuitive to many people, but which are usually swamped by the promises of a world obsessed with material progress.

I can't help thinking that this is a terribly important book, for several reasons.

First, Hugh has been a long-time expert observer and researcher whose work has been rooted in the understandings and expectations of everyday people of all beliefs (or lack of them).
Helen Ginbey
Apr 04, 2015 Helen Ginbey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2015
Often it's easy to think that I know what it takes or endeavour to live a 'good life', this book was a poignant reminder to me of the importance of social capital and living a life that epitomises treating people with kindness,compassion & respect. As someone who has read books on happiness & have thought that as a good value and goal to strive for, I am now considering that with a different lens. I really enjoyed how Hugh McKay infused quite practical advice such as listening ...more
Rodney Hrvatin
Aug 23, 2013 Rodney Hrvatin rated it really liked it
This is a book that makes clear what it means to truly live the good life. Mackay writes in an engaging and thought-provoking style.
Mackay starts by questioning what we believe to be a "good life" and then takes us through the points one by one and explains why they may not entirely be the right reasons.
Unlike other books of this nature, Mackay doesn't preach like he is some faultless person lecturing us mere mortals. Rather, he speaks with the voice of a guidance counselor who is instructing
David Beards
Oct 05, 2013 David Beards rated it liked it
The ideologies present by Hugh Mackay have been incorporated in one form or another in every self help book every published, so there is nothing new on offer here. But it is wonderful to read books like The Good Life every few years to remind ourselves that life involves more than just working for your next ipad or vacation. My big challenge with these ideologies is that you can give to others, but what happens when one ends up emotionally and physically drained? There is so much joy to be found ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Jo rated it liked it
I read this book as part of Modern Mrs Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge, as 'A book chosen for you by your spouse'.
While I liked most of the points he made and found inspiration in it, I thought he took a long time to say everything and the book could have been half the size, more concise and been more enjoyable to read.
Basically his message is: The good life is not an easy life, or a happy life, or a prosperous life. The good life is dedicated to being and doing good for others.
Definitely somethi
Jul 06, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it
this book made me think...a lot. Writing in his usual urbane, dispassionate manner, Mackay explores the concept of 'the good life' and looks as contemporary understanding through a long-term lens. I decided that on the whole I do live a good life as defined by Mackay and that I can do better. I decided, also, that I have had a life that has been good as the sum of its parts and that I must not be complacent, which I try hard not to be. I recommend the book as a gentle prod to some ...more
Olivia  Shanahan
May 11, 2016 Olivia Shanahan rated it really liked it
"no one can promise you that a life lived for others will bring you a deep sense of satisfaction, but it's certain that nothing else will" is the final line of The Good Life. Which of course leaves the debate open...

I really enjoyed reading The Good Life, probably because it helped me understand my own thought processes and motivations a little better.

I particularly liked Mackay's appraisal of some of our most frequently espoused platitudes - often lost in translation.

I will definitely keep thi
Apr 14, 2016 Aleena rated it it was ok
The good life or happiness in life is about practicing selflessness or Altruism! It's never about your life long goals, or acquisition of goods and knowledge, but rather to serve with selflessness for the community as Mc Kay quotes. He is certainly right about that however the examples in the book could be improved, and I found it extremely lengthy. Maybe it wasn't really my type of book as I avoid these reads but good for people wanting to figure out the sole purpose of life. 1.5/5
Anna Davidson
Nov 13, 2015 Anna Davidson rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
'The good life is one lived for others.' This book shines a light on current society and our continual search for happiness. It is an inspiring book to help us live a better life, one for others. One of the guiding questions that particularly resonated with me was, 'Is this the right thing to do?' Well worth reading if you're interested in adding more meaning to your life.
May 25, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking novel about different life values and how they contribute to your quality of life. Mackay leaves room you to disagree with his ideas, but is mostly hard to disagree with. He expresses his thoughts beautifully and arrives at sensible and satisfying conclusions.

Good if you're up for something a bit philosophical.
Rosemary Wong
Dec 11, 2013 Rosemary Wong rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a book that everyone should read at least once during their lifetime. It reminds us of how we should interact with one another by utilizing the message of the Golden Rule. In our fast paced, selfish and materialistic society Hugh's message brings us all back down to earth with a thud! I'll be handing it around to members of my family to read.
Jun 27, 2016 Singer_SA rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Have to admit that I didn't finish reading this book. Although Hugh Mackay raised some interesting points about how to live a 'good life' and it not being predicated on wealth or possessions, etc, it became rather repetitive and preachy. This was pretty much the universal view of the book club too.
Hugh Mackay writes on very important topics in a very simple way. In this book he argues for what makes a life worth living. He has a simple message - treat others as you wish to be treated - through three main ways. Listen attentively, apologise sincerely and forgive generously.

He has a lot of clear insights and wisdom based on a life time of research and thinking. Well recommended.
Nov 09, 2013 Shelley rated it did not like it
Don't invite Hugh Mackay to your next dinner party..... a dreary, preachy,condescending little book filled with anecdotes about dreary,limited people with no imaginations. No new ideas or insights here. blegh!
May 11, 2013 Doug rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maryjane Morris
Nov 19, 2013 Maryjane Morris rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and a timely expose of all the traps we can fall into, in search of a purposeful life. Very easy to read. Challenges readers to consider how each of us can shift the focus from self to other.
Nov 27, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it
I have a lot of respect for the author.

McKay never preaches in his books, and his conclusions are always well argued.

The basic thrust of this book, is that satisfaction can be found in life, by living for others, instead of a life focused on ourselves, and our own agendas.
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Hugh Mackay is a social researcher and novelist who has made a lifelong study of the attitudes and behaviour of Australians. He is the author of twelve books, including five bestsellers. The second edition of his latest non-fiction book, Advance Australia…Where? was published in September 2008, and his fifth novel, Ways of Escape was published in May 2009.

He is a fellow of the Australian Psycholog
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“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don't mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It's a really odd thing that we're now seeing people saying "write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep" and "cheer up" and "happiness is our birthright" and so on. We're kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It's rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, "Quick! Move on! Cheer up!" I'd like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word "happiness" and to replace it with the word "wholeness." Ask yourself, "Is this contributing to my wholeness?" and if you're having a bad day, it is.” 4 likes
“You don’t have to be rich to leave a positive legacy; you don’t have to be intelligent, famous, powerful or even particularly well organised, let alone happy. You need only to treat people with kindness, compassion and respect, knowing they will have been enriched by their encounters with you.” 4 likes
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