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The Good Life

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  417 ratings  ·  52 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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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  417 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Oct 20, 2013 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 o ...more
Anne Lynch
Oct 02, 2013 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 comfo ...more
May 04, 2013 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 alwa ...more
Kathy Reid
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Insightful, well researched and challenging.
Cheryl Ryan
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just read first chapter and thoroughly enjoying his analysis of the Utopia Complex.
Martyn Shedd
Jun 01, 2013 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.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I think the last quote in the postscript sums up the message that Mackay tries to get across:

'It's not a question of survival of the fittest; ultimately, it's a question of survival of the species.'

I mostly got the importance of selflessness and not expecting something in return for whatever kindness you give. The idea of everyone wanting to be taken seriously was enlightening, as was the distinction between 'active listening' and merely 'hearing someone out'.

I also really enjoyed reading the a
Kylie Purdie
Jun 06, 2013 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 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Oct 16, 2016 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.
May 26, 2013 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.
Sean Finn
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book on what I'd think of as practical philosophy in that it allows a simpleton like myself to understand how I can live a life o purpose. One that is good and allows me to know what good is.
Andrew Harten
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book examines the notion of happiness or satisfaction in our lives. The conclusion is that happiness ultimately lies not in what we can get our ourselves but in our relationships with others.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A thought provoking book about how to live a life of meaning rather than striving for happiness. It was a slow read for me but it did provoke lots of dinner time discussion.
Heather Browning
I had picked up this book thinking it would be about wellbeing - a good life in terms of what is good for its bearer; perhaps an examination of those things which have been found to be truly beneficial for people to have. Instead, it was about morality - a good life in terms of what is good for the world, for others. The first couple of chapters had a very strong 'kids these days' sort of vibe, complaining about all the ways in which we are becoming more selfish, more sheltered etc. etc. Althoug ...more
Jennifer Rolfe
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had the same problems with this book as I had when studying Maslow's 'Heirarchy of Needs' - a very white, middle-class male's idealization of how to live 'life'. Very superficial and certainly not very political.

Nov 11, 2013 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. Instead ...more
Vishal Choudhary
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Too detailed on each topic and i have lost interest while reading. Covering good life meaning basically to spent life helping others and society
Tim Hollo
Mar 02, 2014 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 05, 2013 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
Jul 14, 2013 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 attentivel ...more
Rodney Hrvatin
Aug 23, 2013 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
Sep 28, 2013 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 16, 2016 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
Dec 11, 2013 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 self-reflectio ...more
Olivia  Shanahan
May 24, 2013 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 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
Oct 12, 2015 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.
Jul 13, 2013 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
Nov 29, 2013 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.
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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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