What is your reaction to the saying "living the good life and living a good life are not the same thing?"

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would certainly agree with this statement.  However, I would note that it only has meaning due to the colloquial meaning of these phrases. 

In colloquial American English, “living the good life” implies living a life that is full of material possessions and of what many people would characterize as “fun.”  In other words, it implies living a life that is at least somewhat hedonistically pleasurable.  People who live the “good life” do things like going to clubs.  They buy many things that they can use to have fun.  This is what we commonly call living the good life.

By contrast, when we speak of living a good life, we mean something altogether different.  We are referring here to a life that is meaningful in a way that is deeper than “the good life.”  We are referring to living a life where we build a good family and enjoy our time with them.  We are referring to living a life in which we help others rather than thinking only about our own material pleasures. 

Thus, these two phrases refer to very different things.  On the one hand people who live “the good life” think mainly of themselves and of material things.  On the other, people who life “a good life” think of others and of things that are more spiritual than they are material.

michuraisin | Student

I would agree with the thought that living THE good life and living A good life are not necessarily the same thing. Looking at the latter statement, I would think that living a good life revolves more around ethical and moral terms. For instace, if you help others, don't break the law, and do no harm, that could be considered living a good life.

However, this doesn't mean that living THE good life is different from living a good life. The reason for that is because one's definition of what living the good life mean can vary from person to person. There's no one clear-cut definition. Philosophically, living the good life and living a good life could mean the same thing, and be dependent on how much good one does. At the same time, people may view THE good life as a life of ease, where one has money, good health, and a lot of material possessions. 

Due to varying ideas of what THE good life is, it would be wrong to say that it is synonymous with living a good life, but dependent on interpretation, it would be fair to say they are not the same.

aszerdi | Student

The first potion of this quotation "living the good life" seems to insinuate some kind of materialism. It refers to the quality of one's standard of living and how comfortable one's life is. The second, "living a good life" has moral and ethical connotations.

Personally, I would tend to agree with the argument this quote forwards. An individual can live the good life and have a high standard of living. This does not ensure that they are living an ethical existence in which they do good for the individuals around them.

I agree because living the good life makes it sound like good life is associated with monetary value and usualy this is associated with the issue of money bringing you happiness.  But living a good life sounds like you are satisfied with what life has to offer you.

laurto | Student

I agree with that statement. In my opinion, there is a difference between living a good life and living the good life. Living a good life is living with what makes you happy. This would include being with your family, being healthy, things that aren't really materialistic. Living the good life is living to a set of standard considered to make life better. This would include having money (and lots of), having a car, and lots of material things. Living a good life and living the good life can mean the same to some people, depending on their personal ideology, beliefs, and interpretation of what a good life is.