curtis fisher.

evaluate your life against a standard

- 7 Minute Read

How does one live well? This is a question I've asked myself with increasing curiosity over the past year. In searching for the answer to this question, I've stumbled upon the works of Plato and the hellenistic philosophies, hinduism, the teachings of the buddha, and more parallels then I imagined between the world religions. One theme is starkly represented in this exploration: congruency is essential to a good life.

What is Congruency

To be completely straightforward, I made up my own definition for this word. This is the definition that I use:

Congruency is when the shape of your thoughts is the same as the shape of reality.

It is both a process and an outcome. To live congruently is to live in accordance with your ideal reality. To practice congruency is to make decisions and take actions which align you with your desired reality.

The relationship between "Congruency" and "The Good Life"

Reality can take many forms. Congruency is when you are living your ideal reality. Different philosophies, religions and spiritualties all have their own definition of an ideal reality, "The Good Life." Here are a few examples in the wild of "The Good Life" and what it requires of an individual.

Preface: I am not an expert in any of the following religions, spiritualties, or philosophies. Addressing the complexities of these profound and ancient ideas in a single article would be a massive character building experience but not one that I aim to take on at the moment. Please have grace with my attempt to highlight what I find to be most relevant.

Dharmic religions (~3000 B.C.E.)

There is no firm date of origin for the Dharmic religions. The vedic texts date back to at least 3000 B.C.E but some have dated them to as far back as 8000 B.C.E. The Dharmic religions were born from a culture fixated on mastering the spiritual realm. Salient among their shared themes is the pursuit of self-realization and the belief that individuals can achieve spiritual enlightenment by understanding the true nature of the self.


The good hindu life is one in which an individual has liberated themselves from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) to enter a state of moksha (unity with the divine).


In Buddhism, the good life is entails liberation from samsara to enter a state of nirvana (perfect happiness). From what I can understand, the primary difference between to Hindu good life and the Buddhist good life is the concept of atman (the self). In Hinduism, atman is an eternal part of the divine that one fully realizes after growing beyond maya (the illusion of reality). In Buddhism atman is a part of the illusion of reality, and liberation can only be achieved by realizing the emptiness of all things, including the self.

Here is a pretty good comparison of the intricacies of Buddhism and Hinduism


In Sikhism, the good life is one in which the human will is merged with the will of God.


The good life for a Jain is a life of ahimsa (non-violence).

Abrahamic Religions (~2000 B.C.E.)

The Abrahamic religions date back to ~2000 B.C.E. when Abram (later known as Abraham and also referred to as Ibrahim in the Qur'an) was chosen by god to spread the message of monotheism.

Common to the Abrahamic religions is the shared belief in one true god, and a life lived in accordance with God's will.


A Christian is living the good life when they have embodied Christ's teachings to become a living manifestation of God. Christians offer the bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ as a guide to living in accordance with God.


Similar to Christianity, thew Jewish good life is one in which the individual lives in accordance with the will of god. Judaism offers the Torah as a guide to living in accordance with God.


Similar to Judaism and Christianity (and characteristic of the Abrahamic religions), the Muslim good life is one in which the individual lives in accordance with the will of Allah. Muslims offer the teachings of the Qur'an as a guide living in accordance with the will of Allah.

Comedic Relief

In the Abrahamic religions, The Good Life is one lived in accordance with God. After writing The Good Life so many times, one might accidentally miss a letter and write The God Life. The Good Life is The God Life. Get the joke? Ha. ha.

Helenistic Schools of Thought (~300 B.C.E.)


The Epicurians practice living a life of katastematic (static) pleasure—free from unnecessary desires and fears. An Epicurian is living the good life when she has aligned her desires and pleasures with reason and moderation.


The Stoics good life is one lived in accordance with the natural order of the universe. Stoics concerning themselves with only that which is within their control. Popular Stoic texts include Meditations, Epictetus' Discourses, The Enchiridion, and Senecas Letters.


The Skeptic good life is one in which the individual has found tranquility in matters of opinion and moderation of feeling in matters forced upon them. The Skeptics aim to live a life embodied by ataraxia (total serenity).

TLDR; Common Themes

  1. There is a higher power (God, Nirvana, The Tao, The Logos, Love, Eudaimonia)
  2. That power is found in all things, including within us
  3. A Good Life is one in which we exist in unity with that higher power.

Why one should aim for congruency

For those who aim to live well, it helps to know what a well-lived life looks like. Many spiritualties, philosophies, and belief systems attempt to answer this question; it's up to you as an individual to choose what resonates. This is certainly not an easy task, and your beliefs of The Good Life may change many times throughout your life.

A congruent person is intimately familiar with the self. They have a pretty good ideal for their live, and constantly hold their actions and decisions against that ideal.

For the Buddhist, they may identify where they carry attachment in their daily lives. In recognition that attachment isn't part of the Buddhist ideal, they seek to eliminate it.

For the Christian, committing a sin serves as an indication that they are not living the ideal of God. When they commit sin, they seek to rectify the situation and prevent themselves from further sin.

For the Epicurean, they recognize when their desires have gotten excessive. Perhaps after a long bender they consider that the bender was not a reflection of the Epicurean good life and seek to eliminate future benders.

Congruency is both the ideal with which we look up to, and a reflection of the actions we choose in each moment. It is precisely from the ownership of your current state–the distance between you and the good life–that you can begin to improve your circumstances. Living congruently gives a life its purpose.

Concluding Thoughts

I don't yet know (and may never know) the full extent of what it takes to live well. One thing I do know is that it's highly improbable we will stumble into the good life. The good life seems like something that we must work for; that work starts with understanding who we truly are—that is clarifying where we are and are not congruent—and beginning to progress in our alignment from there.

By aiming for congruency you are pulling and propelling yourself into your personal good life. Each congruent step you take is one step closer to living well.