What does a "great" life mean to you? That is one of the most important questions an adult can ask - and answer.
Too many of us never really consider the question. We fantasize about having money or fame or perhaps owning a house in the Hamptons or retiring young enough to do what we "really want to do," but we never rigorously decide exactly what our one and only, unique, life should look like.
We all know that a "great" life does not happen by accident. A great life is not easy and it does not come with a diploma, a promotion, getting married (or divorced), having kids or retiring early. It cannot be inherited and it never comes as an accessory with the "goodies" of life. Sure, lots of money, a penthouse apartment, political power or winning the Nobel Prize are wonderful things and I encourage you to aspire to all of them. But none of them will guarantee you a great life.
I am convinced that every one of us has the right to a great life. Greatness is not reserved for a lucky few, for the rich or the powerful, for the artistic or for any other category of people. A great life is the birthright of every human being, whether we express greatness by designing tall buildings, or by teaching children to stand tall.
Greatness is our birthright, whether we express ourselves in business or government, in art or music, in parenting, or in any of the thousands of so-called "small" things. Most people remember a special teacher, and many of us had an uncle who taught us to whistle or a grandmother who taught us to read. Perhaps there was a neighbor who taught us to fish, who gave us our first job, or dared us to persevere when things were hard.
I love the story of the "star thrower," about a man walking on a beach after a storm, throwing starfish back into the ocean so they won't die on the shore. Someone criticizes him for wasting his time, noting there are millions of starfish, and the few he saves won't make much difference. The man silently bends over, throws a starfish into the surf and replies, "It made a difference for that one."
Set it as your minimum standard to live a great life, to make a difference and to have fun doing it! Eventually, down the road one day, we all look back and assess our life and when that time comes, we want to smile, knowing we did it right. Set that as your standard, and go for it!