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How to Live a Good Life, by Jonathan Fields: Interview and Giveaway

How to live a good lifeUPDATE – The winners for this giveaway are:

  • Joshira Maduro
  • Gerardo Corripio F
  • sian e lewis

What do you think it means to “live a good life”? Though we all have different answers based on our unique values and preferences, it’s likely yours involves peace of mind, love, fulfillment, and perhaps making a positive difference in the world.

Author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields has a similar definition—encompassing vitality, connection, and contribution—and he’s explored it in his new book How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom.

I’m a huge Jonathan Fields fan because he’s genuine, humble, and equally devoted to being a change maker as he is to being a husband and dad.

On top of that, he uses his experience to help people stop living on autopilot and start living healthier, happier, more mindful, engaged lives.

He writes in an accessible, down-to-earth tone, not as a guru or expert standing above people, but as a fellow human being who’s dealt with the same challenges we all face. And he beautifully blends relatable stories with practical advice, backed by scientific research.

From the Amazon page:

Drawn from the intersection of science, spirituality, and the author’s years-long quest to learn at the feet of masters from nearly every tradition and walk of life, this book offers a simple yet powerful model, the “Good Life Buckets”—spend thirty days filling your buckets and reclaiming your life.

Each day will bring a new, practical yet powerful idea, along with a specific exploration designed to rekindle deep, loving, and compassionate relationships; cultivate vitality, radiance, and graceful ease; and leave you feeling lit up by the way you contribute to the world, like you’re doing the work you were put on the planet to do.

How to Live a Good Life is not just a book to be read; it’s a path to possibility, to be walked, then lived.

I’m grateful that Jonathan took the time to answer a few questions about his book, and that’s he’s offered three free copies for Tiny Buddha readers.

The Giveaway

To enter to win one of three free copies of How to Live a Good Life, leave a comment below. You don’t need to write anything specific. “Count me in!” is sufficient, but if you feel inclined, share an act of kindness you recently did or witnessed.

You can enter until midnight PST on Friday, October 21st.

The Interview

In your new book, How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom, you dance between modern science and Eastern philosophy. Where does this come from?

Yeah, I have this weird wiring. My rational brain is always looking for data, scientific validation. I don’t just want to experience something, I want to know how it works. But, then the other side is fascinated by nuance, philosophy, traditions and practices that go back thousands of years, with a pretty strong focus on Buddhism.

What’s really cool is that, the deeper I go into both worlds, the more they’ve been coming together. I’ve spent a lot of time researching literature from the field of positive psychology or what many have come to know as the science of happiness. Turns out, many of the practices that this emerging field end up studying, then validating, are tied in some way to Buddhism or Eastern lineages.

Mindfulness is the perfect example. It’s been around for thousands of years, because it works. Now, science is showing “how” the practice works, revealing everything from the ability to grow brain cells to cultivating calm in the face of stress, also known as life!

You share a model of a good life you call the Good Life Buckets. What are they and why do they matter?

Despite stunning advances in knowledge, information, technology, medicine, and industry, the human condition has remained largely unchanged for the better part of thousands of years. What I came to learn is this: We already know how to live better lives; we have all the tools and strategies at our fingertips. We just do anything with them. We don’t act on them.

So, I began to ask why and discovered that so much information is delivered in a way that either forces people to make big disruptive changes (which they’ll rarely ever do), buy into a new and disruptive set of beliefs/dogma (again, that’s a huge ask that’s almost always a non-starter), or wade through complexity that takes serious time and work just to figure out what to do, let alone do it.

We don’t have the patience, the will, or the time for this, so instead, we just bail. We surrender to mediocrity and malaise. I realized I needed to share what I’ve learned over fifty years of life and time spent with hundreds of astonishing, embodied teachers. But, I also needed to do it in a way that went down easy. A way that people could hear once, remember for life, then have it guide their daily behavior.

That’s where the simple model of the Good Life Buckets comes in. Think of your life as three buckets: Vitality, Connection, and Contribution. Your Connection Bucket is about cultivating relationships. Your Vitality Bucket is about optimizing your state of mind and body. Your Contribution Bucket is about contributing to the world in a way that is deeply aligned with who you are and what matters.

Your quest is to keep all three as full as possible. When your Good Life Buckets are full, life is amazing. If any one runs dry, pain ensues. If two run dry, you are in a world of hurt. If all three ever empty at the same time, you’re no longer alive, by any definition.

So, your job is to wake up, ask yourself, which bucket needs a little love today, then go about doing a little something to fill it, while also remembering never to abandon the others. It’s really that simple. Actually, it’s deceptively, yet remarkably effective. And, it doesn’t require you to blow up your life or spend days, weeks or month trying to understand what to do.

I also realized in writing the book that I wanted to hold people’s hands and get them started. This is why after sharing the buckets, the rest of the book is set up as a series of thirty single days. Each offers a simple story and an idea, something to fill one bucket just a bit. Then it dishes up a bit of science to validate the idea and, most important, it invites you to take a simple action designed to fill that one bucket that day.

You don’t even have to believe it’ll work. Just do it and let your experience be your proof. Do this for thirty days and you begin the “live the buckets.” They become a part of you and guide your behavior.

You begin to ask, “Will this fill or empty my buckets?” If yes, you do it, if not, you walk away. Which is the other really big benefit. The buckets become a simple tool to let you know what to say or no, too. That, alone, removes a lot of stress and creates time for the stuff that matters most.

One of the things you focus on is cultivating awareness. Why is this so important?

Because it’s the foundation for choice. We’ve come to live so much of life reactively. We’re filling every moment of every day reacting to what other people want from us, what other people decide is important, what other people want their stories to become. Somewhere along the way, without intending it, we’ve given up control, surrendered our sense of intentionality.

One thing I’ve learned, a good life is not a reactive life. It is an intentional life.

But, we can’t be intentional until we’ve cultivated an ability to “touch down” in our lives. We need to be able to notice where we’re placing our efforts and attention at any given moment in time, before we can choose whether to keep them there, or shift to something more meaningful.

So, for me, cultivating awareness is the starting point. It’s why it’s one of the first chapters. My own practice is a traditional, breath-oriented mindfulness practice. I sit for thirty minutes every morning. Over time, this morning practice weaves its way into the balance of your day. It makes it easier to touch down in your life at different moments through the day, see what’s real and what’s distraction, then make the move from surrender to intention.

As part of the rollout of your new book, you’ve also launched an initiative to plant trees. What’s that about and why does it matter so much to you?

I think it comes from this deeper sense that we’re all a part of something bigger than just us that we benefit from, and are also beholden to it. Whenever I launch something new, I try to make it not just about the “thing,” but also about an opportunity to harness the energy of creation to make a bigger difference.

With the launch of How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom, I decided to partner with a foundation that lets us plant trees for every book ordered by October 18th. My not-so-secret goal is to plant 10,000 trees. I’ve committed to funding the first 2,000 myself. As I write this, we’re almost halfway there.

This is also personal for me. As a kid, I learned early on that nature was my reset. It’s where I’d go to find grace, especially when things got stressful. I got curious about whether it was just me, or whether there was something bigger going on. So, I researched the phenomenon in writing the book.

Turns out, nature, especially trees, not only heals the planet (and we need that desperately right now), it also has a powerful effect on both our psychology and physiology, lowering stress, anxiety, and even markers for inflammation and disease risk. I wrote an entire chapter about what it does to us and how we can bring more of it into our lives.

There’s another reason. We’re losing trees at an alarming rate through fire and industry. And, though we try to be as respectful as possible in sourcing paper, books also use trees. So, this tree-planting mission just made sense to me. If we can pull it off, it’ll be the first book that will plant more trees than it uses, help use live better lives, and serve something bigger than just us along the way.

Any final thoughts?

Just that I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to share ideas here. To know that you and the beautiful Tiny Buddha community are out there making a real difference in people’s lives is wonderful. So, thank you. And to everyone reading, go hug someone, take a moment to breath, cultivate calm, move your body, make meaning and don’t forget to laugh a little along the way.

Lots of love!

+++

Jonathan Fields is a NYC dad, husband, founder of Good Life Project and author of the new book, How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom.

FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site. 

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal is available for pre-order now. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Reagan

    Count me in

  • Lindsey Bowe

    Interesting bucket idea. Wd love chance to win a book copy. Thanks! Lindsey

  • Jen Boyd

    Kindness is too rare in this world. 🙁 a couple of days ago, a tourist was lost and no one would help her. She came up to me and I walked her to the right bus stop to where she needed to go. Took 10 mins. Thats all it takes people 🙂 I would love a copy of this book

  • Ayelet

    Count me in

  • disqus_sLkZeFVQ2A

    Count me in!

  • Barnini

    I gave my sear on the bus to an elderly person. That’s my random act of kindness. ^^

  • Eunice

    One time we ran across an elderly lady trying to push a cart full of purchased groceries across a busy street. We loaded her and all her groceries into our car and gave her a ride home.

  • sian e lewis

    I like your section about trees and conservation. Now I don’t plant trees, but every time I go out and see a recyclable item, e. g. a can lying around, I pick it up to be recycled.

  • Jesus David Martínez Sanchez

    Count me in!

  • Brian Reppert

    Yes! Jonathan Fields is amazing and I’d love to win!!!

  • Pjpurls

    I would like to read this book

  • Jon

    Well damn, count me in, for no reason other than I want to read anything Jonathan Fields has written!

  • Nicola

    count me in

  • Megan

    Sounds like a great book!

  • Valeria

    Well, I must have been living under a rock not to know him!!!! 🙁
    Count me in, I’d LOVE to read this book and who knows when it comes to Italy….

  • Miguel Bustos

    Count me in!

  • CharLouise30

    Count me in!

  • Kathy E.

    Count me in! Practice Kindness is my life’s motto.

  • Lynne T.

    Please count me in, I love reading books like this.

  • lisa

    what it means to lead a good life is to let go of the belief that the answer to that question is found in self help books of this sort. The answer is never outside of us, it is inside. To be able to practice loving kindness towards others, acceptance and true compassion is to lead a good life. To not answer to the selfish desires of the ego is to lead a good life. To stop searching a be still and quite in times of discontent is to lead a good life.

  • Gerardo Corripio F

    Very very interesting/intriguing book looks like it’ll be! I’m very much into mindfulness, Reiki and other alternative living patterns. I’m a Psychology major with a disability, thus all these alternatives have made it a bit easier to cope with life’s stresses. Great work on books like these! and very inspiring interview Looking forward to finally having a concrete book that surely will help in continuing making my life a bit easier to cope with! I always learn and get inspired from your blog! I’ve been reading it almost I think two years? So keep up theseinspiring stories flowing!!

  • Kathy

    count me in

  • Cassandra

    Count me in. I conduct therapy daily on myself and with others. It is a beautiful thing that we keep looking within as Lisa has already stated. So we don’t need to go anywhere, get anything, or be someone outside of who we are in order to life a good life. Thank you for your site.

  • Sandy

    This book sounds great! I looking forward to reading it

  • Anita

    Count me in!

  • Maureen

    Count me in!

  • Jedrick H. Burgos Amador

    Count me in!

  • Elizabeth R

    I’m in!

  • Adam

    Let’s give it a shot.

  • Muse22

    Can’t wait to read this <3

  • Yocchan

    Count me in! I would really love to read this book!

  • SABRINA CROW

    I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO READ THIS PLEASE!!!!

  • Ambre

    It’s soon my birthday

  • Tara Burchfield

    I make random comments to strangers all the time. “I love your dress!”, “Beautiful purse!”, “Your son is so sweet.” It’s amazing to see their faces and spirit light up. I like to feel connected to the people around me—we’re all cousins right? Looking forward to reading this book whether I win or not. 🙂

  • Matthew scognamiglio

    “Count me in!

  • Mikhail

    Count me in 🙂 .. I’d like the book.

  • i’d love to read this!

  • Megan

    I would love to win the giveaway!!!

  • MeNotYou

    You get what you give! <3

  • Donna

    I’m ready for “the good life”! O:)

  • Regina

    Count me In! So need this!!!

  • Elspeth

    Thanks so much for the article and book giveaway. Recently rescued a terrified, blind, elderly dog who was confused and stuck in traffic; I had to park, stop the honking traffic and capture him. It took some time, but was thankfully able to connect with his family and get him home. Seeing them together was the best thing EVER. Kindness to animals is a big focus for me, I would do anything to help an animal in need.

  • Amy

    Count me in please!

  • Jenny D.

    Please count me in! I would love to learn about living the good life!

  • Matt

    Count me in, please! One of my coworkers took a homeless man out to lunch last week, which was really cool to hear. 🙂

  • Alessandra Pisciottani

    Please Lori, count me in! Thank you 🙂

  • Ella

    count me in

  • Carmen

    No worries on the book. I just pre-ordered it. Just wanted to say I love the tree planting idea & I’m hoping that my e-book purchase will count towards that. Be well.

  • Danh Dang

    Need to turn my life around!

  • Rachel Winters

    Count me it!

  • Gigi

    I’m glad I found this post. I’ve been growing and healing and am at a point where things are mainfesting. I’m ready for another new inspiration.

  • Matt

    Count me in

  • Diehnee Hogan

    Count me in..please.

  • Mary

    I love tangible ways to practice being a better person. Plan on reading this book!

  • Lisa P.

    Would love to win!

  • I’d like to win. This book may be helpful to me.

  • BrettNord

    Count me in! 😉

  • Juanita

    Yes please

  • Angie

    I love the idea of the good life buckets! Actually taking time to dedicate an action to fill the bucket makes the whole action much more mindful – so we’re more present in the moment!

  • Sharon Lewis

    cool

  • Lea Khorat

    I’m in!

  • Jennum

    I’m in. As a caregiver, it was really nice to be the recipient of an act of kindness. I volunteer treating clients at a recovery clinic a few times a week and was having an especially challenging day yesterday. One of the clients seemed to notice this and came over to thank me for how careful and patient I had been with her over the last few months. She gave me a hug and was on her way. It made such a huge difference in my day!

  • Mel

    Count me in please

  • Vivian Glazier

    Excited!!!!

  • blw

    This is something that I can support!

  • Rita

    Thank you for this opportunity. Count me in, please.

  • Jennifer Gasiorowski

    Count me in!

  • discob75

    Very interested in the book.

  • Jenna

    Act of kindness: an understanding waitress helping me get things for my not-having-it toddler during a special dinner out. She must have seen it in my eyes!

  • Courtney

    I really want this book! I am so happy I came across this giveaway. =)

  • Rachel Clark

    Count me in!

  • Nadine Wu

    Yes please!

  • magentaruby1

    Hope to win this book! i had some toiletries that only a woman would love and wanted to donate them. Just the other day on my Facebook page, a medical office near my area was having a drive for a local woman’s shelter. I donated them and felt good. 🙂

  • Michelle Wait

    need help please

  • Diana

    Sure, why not. Count me in

  • Bethel

    I recently began working in a school for children with special educational needs and it’s the most fulfilling, amazing job. I never realised how wonderful helping people could feel and now I want to do whatever I can to help others even in the smallest sense.

  • GL

    I always try to very nice to people I speak to on phone or in publiv. Would love to win this book ! 🙂

  • Archan

    Count me in

  • AScott

    Love it!!

  • Linda-Lee Hall

    I would love to win and read this book.

  • BBehel

    would love this book

  • Holly D

    Sounds like a good book!

  • Colleen B

    Needing some new direction of becoming single after 20 years of commitment!

  • Tanya Ofstie

    Count me in…this is just what I need in my life right now!

  • naomi

    I’m keen! On kindness, I’ve witnessed unwavering support and encouragement toward myself and others of late, so good!

  • Mallis

    Count me in!

  • Valerie

    Count me in!

  • Count me in! I love the concept of giving back and this initiative.

  • Louisa D

    Count me in!

  • Corinne

    I am in!

  • Bea

    Let’s do this,… let’s save the world!

  • Nenneth Villacarlos-Arriola

    I’m in. Wanted to share a story of my son. He’s 26 and one of those who have such a big heart. He told me this story. One night he had to run to 7/11 to get something important I can’t remember what it was. He said he saw an elderly homeless man sitting outside. He usually gets an extra energy drink when he goes in when he gets something else but tonight it was going to be different. Instead. he bought a pizza and a drink for the this man. He handed it to him and smiled. The man smiled back and said “God bless!” My son said somehow he felt so good inside his heart and he realized how lucky he is to have a roof on his head, food on the table and clean and decent clothes to wear. He said it made him fee he is living a good life because of what he has and what he is able to share.
    This has become his routine whenever he sees a homeless person.

  • Emily Hyatt

    “Count me in!”

  • Kim Micka

    Count me in! Excited to work this plan & share it with others.

  • alltoocontrary

    yes, please!!

  • Candace Glenney

    A little kindness goes a long way…we could all use more kindness!

  • Jennifer T

    Spread love. Thank you.

  • Isabel

    🙂

  • karen

    Count me in!

  • Pierce Christian Baxter

    I would love to win this book.

  • janet

    Spread the love!

  • zenharmony

    I’d love to win this book, thanks for the opportunity! 🙂

  • karen

    Count me in too!

  • Joshira Maduro

    Count me in! I am a big fan of Johnathan Fields and his work so I’m glad to see this community is so interconnected with other people who promote inspiration for living a good life. Here is my recent story on kindness: I went to a local brewery with my boyfriend and when I went to the restroom, there was a very pretty woman (probably around my age) by the sink that seemed a little down. As I went to wash my hands she asked, ” Excuse me, but I have a quick question…does my outfit look bad or unflattering?” Mind you she was wearing a super cute outfit that consisted of a dark plaid skirt and top. “No way, you look super cute!” I said “What makes you think you look bad?”It made me confused and concerned that someone with such a positive light would view herself that way …”I don’t know, I just get down on myself sometimes” she replied. I made sure she knew that she looked amazing and we hugged. We need more love and compliments in our world, because kind words can turn someone’s day around :)!

  • Elane Luo

    Count me in 🙂

  • Darren

    Count me in I think we should all show a bit more Compassion to people and are self

  • Gayla Alex

    I’d love to have a copy!

  • I would love to win a copy, otherwise I’ll join the library queue and wait patiently. Can’t wait to read!

  • TS

    Please count me in – thank you!

  • Steve

    Count me in!

  • Val Kowalewich

    ~namaste~ I would love a copy of this.

  • Jennifer Foy

    Would love to read it – count me in! Thanks!

  • I’m in! 🙂
    Act of kindness: a friend in my shared workspace the other day offered me a plate of food that had bee delivered for someone who was not going to be there to have it. Provided me with a yummy healthy lunch I hadn’t organised for myself that day 🙂

  • Cynthia

    I would love to win a copy.
    As I am about to start my journey of self discovery this would give me a starting point.

  • Nicola

    Pick me pick me! I want to make as many people smile as possible and that starts by me learning to smile myself

  • macgurrl

    Count me in! I can’t wait to read the book.

  • Bonnie Naiditch

    I’m in … short story: Hubs and I were eating at a small restaurant in Pismo Beach a couple of weeks ago. A woman who had been hanging around the area stopped at the window to the restaurant and pressed her face against the glass. She looked hungry and may have been homeless. I grabbed a few dollars out of my wallet, ran outside and gave it to her. She looked shocked and profusely thanked me. I didn’t want to attract attention so I didn’t stop to talk to her and hoped no one had seen me. I felt really happy that what wasn’t absolutely crucial to me might be to her and that I might have made a difference in someone’s life. That’s something we too often forget.

  • Jane

    My daughter and I noticed a man in the checkout queue who was struggling to pack his shopping. He was not old, maybe late 40s or early 50s. It looked to me like the physical difficulties that come with a stroke. We helped him pack his shopping and he smiled sweetly and I asked him how he was getting home. ‘By bus’ he replied. I completed my shopping but something was bothering me. My daughter said ‘go and find him quickly. Can we drive him home in the car?’ I ran through the car park and saw him at the bus stop. ‘Please can we drive you home?’ I asked. He beamed. ‘Thank you so much. You and your lovely daughter.’ We did not stay in touch but I often think of him.

  • Deanna

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Pat

    Count me in

  • Count me in please! Thanks.

  • Angie Jungling

    I had the opportunity about a month ago to help a friend in need. She had been laid off all summer and is a single mom with a non-supportive ex husband. We have little income as well because I was just a laid off, but we were still able to scrape up a good amount of food for my friend and her daughter, enough to last for several weeks. It felt so good to be able to help her in her time of need, especially since her other friends hadn’t stepped up at all. If you have a friend having hard times, either emotionally or financially, consider making them dinner – with enough for leftovers. They will appreciate it more than you know!!

  • Paul Owen

    Looks like a great book from a great guy!

  • Beachlurk

    Count me in, and thanks for the offer!

  • Sarah

    I’d love to read this

  • Eric Williams

    Food for the soul!

  • Madeline

    Sounds awesome.

  • Sravan Babu

    count me in

  • Ginger Clemence

    I could use this.

  • Yumi

    Sounds great

  • Debbie Stevens

    Count me in!

  • Cri

    Count me in! ♥

  • minkari

    Sounds great!