If you asked someone you know I am sure they would like to think they are living the good life. But what is the “good life”? It is not a one size fits all. A good life is different things to different people. On Thursday night I watched a program on SBS, titled “Filthy Rich & Homeless”. The program first went to air in June 2017. It followed five wealthy Australians who lived on the streets of Melbourne for 10 days and nights to share the experiences of homeless people. It was confronting and unsettling for the participants. I have not seen all the episodes however living as a homeless person and learning more about life on the streets was a brave step for those who took part in this social experiment. Watching the program stimulates thoughts about the subject. It creates awareness and talking about the homelessness issue is a good step forward. The conversation quickly turns to affordable housing. Is this the answer? Homelessness is a much more complex social matter than just providing housing. The reason people are homeless include drug and alcohol addition, job loss, relationship breakdown, domestic violence and health problems. Are these people living the good life?
In comparison to others who have a job and home it may not seem they are living the good life but “some” people are happy living on the streets or couch surfing. Most likely this is because the longer people live on the streets the more familiar it is – this is home. They know their way around and make friends along the way. The research shows that the longer people are homeless the less likely it is they will find a home. Therefore, early intervention is a key to giving those who have fallen on tough times, a “good life” into the future.
I have thought about what it means to me, to live a good life? For me a “good life” is explained in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? There are five levels beginning with our physiological needs, moving to our safety needs, love/belonging needs, esteem needs and finally self-actualisation – reaching our full potential. For people who are homeless their time is spent in meeting their physiological needs. Living a good life must begin with accepting where we are and then improving our life if we think it is not as good as we would like it. That includes planning and setting goals. Not easy if you do not have a roof over your head or food to eat each day.
As serious a social problem as homelessness is, my mind turns to our pets and what the type of home we provide for them? There is an estimated 8 million pet owners in Australia, mostly cats and dogs. Most of them are living a good life but there are also occasions when we hear of animal cruelty. Any pet that comes into my life gets treated like royalty. If I had a dog or a cat and it was cold outside then they would have to come inside and sit in front of the fire. But then I am not a person who likes animals inside the house so my answer then is not to get a dog or a cat.
I have chickens x 4 (hens) to care for and make sure they have a good life. Backyard chickens make great pets. If you provide them with a comfortable and secure home they will reward you with an egg, most days. Yes, it is a good life for my hens. This morning for breakfast I had an egg laid by Sophia, my O&O had two eggs, one laid by Lucy and the other by Lulu. How do I know? The other day I was outside working and keeping an eye on which hen went into the nesting box. One by one they went and laid their egg and then I would go and retrieve it and write their name and date on the egg. Happy and contented hens living the good life. It’s a hen haven at our place!