Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

What is a minimally good life?

In 2011, I visited a slum near Mombasa, following the invitation from a hotel guard. I asked a local cab driver what I should bring as a present. He said a big bottle of Coca Cola and cookies were enough because more would be embarrassing to them. The cab driver was right and the family was thrilled.

My blog title is partly borrowed from a 2020 AeonPsyche article: What is a minimally good life and are you prepared to live it? Quote: “Everyone must be able to meet their basic needs for things such as food, water and shelter.” In my view, sleep (c.30% of our time) is an additional basic need.

The 2020 article mentions several other needs (eg, “relationships, pleasures, knowledge, appreciation, worthwhile activities”). In my view, those are (mostly) borrowed from the hierarchy of needs, a 1943 theory developed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970).

The Psyche article follows the Golden Rule: the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated (eg, Confucius quote). The Golden Rule is, however, subject to time and (geographical) space (see 1st paragraph above). Hence, your need can be my want – or vice versa.

The question in my blog title becomes (very) relevant when establishing a universal basic income (UBI). It’s quite likely that any UBI debate will only add – rather than delete – basic needs. In my country, people view things as basic needs that are aspirational wants in many other countries.

Actually, I’m in favour of a Dutch UBI for pragmatic rather than ideological reasons. In my view, a Dutch UBI would save rather than cost money, compared to our complex existing situation (and resulting social benefits scandals). My main UBI criteria are (i) citizenship and (ii) part of our taxable income.

The question in my blog title contains an element of morality (ie, “good life”). The quote below shows a remarkable interpretation:

“Feeling lost, crazy and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty and reason.”

A quote by Alain de Botton (b.1969), a Swiss-born British author and philosopher.

Good Life (1988) by Inner City
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Let me take you to a place I know you want to go
It’s a good life

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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1 Comment

  1. A n A

    The good life means health and happiness. Not riches, not great wealth, not fame, not great achievements give quality of life.
    Good relations, non-conflicting with family, friends, work colleagues and the community. All these give quality of life.
    Do you remember the Harvard University Study, started in 1938, with 724 young men (students and teenagers from Boston). This study deserves to be read several times. The study continues. There are interesting conclusions


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