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The Good Life

Objectives and Principles
for a meaningful life


Kurt Bell



First Edition

Copyright © 2020 by Kurt Bell


For Joe Bob and Eric
Who lived well



"Nothing can bring you peace
but the triumph of principles."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson



Sections and Chapters

  • The Problem of Nihilism

  • Objectives

    1. Be Always Ready to Die

    2. Make Good Use of Time and Resources

    3. Develop and Maintain Good and Sound Life Principals

    4. Cultivate Good Emotional Reactions

    5. Perform Good Actions

    6. Recognize True Limits and Opportunity

    7. One Thing Slowly

  • Principles

    1. Principle of War

    2. Principle of Reason

    3. Homunculus

    4. Anchorhold

    5. Home of Good and Evil

    6. Principle of Purpose

    7. Atomic Principle

    8. Principle of Nature

    9. The Pirate Ride

    10. Principle of Maturity

    11. Social Principle

    12. Public Speaking

    13. The Feast of Offal

    14. Temperance

    15. The Horror Show

    16. That Which Must Be Borne

    17. Distraction

    18. Agency and The Great Indifference

    19. The Best Seat in the House

    20. The Path of Wildness

    21. The Risk of Avoiding Risk

    22. Sin and Damnation

    23. Complete Oblivion

    24. The Great Life Adventure

    25. The Season of Philosophy

    26. Bullseye Aim

    27. The Uphill Climb

    28. Arena and Utility

    29. nothing IS enough

    30. The Principle of Fun

  • Today's Thought and Action Plan

  • Epilogue

  • In That sense the Universe Cares

  • Recommended Reading






There is no good news in nature. The universe seems incapable of care, or of opinion, or of preference regarding right or wrong, good, and bad, or what constitutes a just and virtuous society or life. The universe’s first opinion on these matters is evident in the dead, bleak environment of space and time; the restless progress of all order in the direction of entropy, and the cold indifference of matter and energy everywhere–where the curious phenomenon of life appears like some strange, exotic exception to a rule of inorganic truth. So, what do we do with this fact? How do we prevent a slide into nihilism? How do we keep our upright posture while our legs buckle and give way as our mind struggles to accept a reality the facts cannot seemingly deny?

     I object! There is meaning! There is law! There is authority! We hear this claim everywhere where the problem has been encountered and answered with a knee-jerk proclamation of wished for truth. But test these claims and I suspect we will find them lacking. Lacking in substance which can be weighed, lacking in texture we can feel, lacking in color we might perceive and readily verify as red, blue, green or yellow, one to another, seeking confirmation and assent that what we see and describe is true. Try that with these ready claims to deity, and dogma, and tradition, and authority, and we will soon be referenced to faith, or the wise sermon of Pastor Brown, or the leather-bound canonical of Our Blessed Tradition. These proofs will not do for the man or woman, or child even, of reason—for children too can hold the universe to account—who courageously respond “foul” and leave the practitioner of superstition to their spells, charms, incantations and supplicant propitiation to a father or mother they cannot live without.

     Our hero walks alone then away from the crowd, who boo and hiss and yell “fool!” as well as threats of ostracization, damnation and hell. The crowd moves close to seal the gap and hole left by the skeptic’s departure. One less of their number. A greater threat to immortality than they might ever perceive.

     What then for the bold skeptic, who has perhaps lost his place, his people, and his certitude? What now while he or she walks alone under the discomforting arch of a heaven with no god? Across an earth which holds no demons? And through a life which offers only emptiness when our days are done? How then to counter nihilism? How to thwart despair? Would not anyone give up now? Why live if life has no absolute meaning? Why struggle when no heavenly and eternal reward awaits, and no sanctifying praise is forthcoming for our acts, or our goodness, or our virtue? Why be good, or try, or live even, when there is no perfect scale upon which to measure our worth or tally the result of a lifetime of good deeds and virtuous living?

     This book is my answer to the problem of a universe without God. A catalog of objectives and principles to form meaning and direction where all signs point to death and oblivion. A recipe for optimism and purpose where these things cannot find easy footing in a universe that does not care. I have been running this experiment for two years, since mid-2016, and the results have been good, very good. I am now ready to share this plan with others, in the hope I might dissuade some from giving up upon witness of the true indifference of nature, of perhaps checking out forever as a last response to the seeming futility of life without inherent purpose. I hope that you will grant me the space of a few more pages to get started, not to suck you in to my dogma, but to share and beg your critical evaluation of my objectives and principles; to determine if they be true, or sound, and if not, then to ask you to please chuck my book into the trash, or the fire, or the recycling bin. Yet if these words make sense to you–really make sense, as in fitting well with the reality you know, and the facts of the universe you understand, then maybe grant me a few more pages, again with a critic’s eye, and perhaps a few more, until you’ve had enough.

Kurt Bell – 2018


“The secret of man's being is not only to
live but to have something to live for.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky



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