Everyone things of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
— Leo Tolstoy
I’ve received a range of opinions on what makes up an excellent experience; examples have included things such as: surfing, spending time with friends and family, and having a religious experience. But there has been one thing that everyone has agreed upon – giving back to society and doing acts of kindness are experiences associated with the Good Life. For this reason, I wanted to introduce you to someone who’s an expert on charity and philanthropy.
Greg Miller is the former managing director of Google.org, the philanthropic foundation of the world’s largest Internet company. For five years, he found ways to leverage the company’s technology and resources to address some of the most difficult problems faced by society. He has since worked as an angel investor and as a consultant for companies that want to use their resources to support charitable work.
In addition to having a great knowledge of how to improve society, Greg has had a full life of running eleven marathons, climbing Mount Everest, learning how to play the guitar and mandolin, and traveling all over the world. After he shared with me about his impressive background, he invited me to his San Francisco home to share specific advice on what the Good Life means to him.
An Amazing Life
Greg’s home is a two-story loft tucked in a narrow alley in a hip San Francisco neighborhood. The loft could be described as a dream home for many living in San Francisco. It’s in quiet spot, yet it’s in a convenient location that is in walking distance of world-class restaurants, bars, and San Francisco’s baseball stadium. It comes furnished with all the latest technology gadgets and furniture. Greg even has a well-trained dog and cat to keep him company.
When I walked into his home, my attention was immediately drawn toward the beautiful photography that lined the brick walls. “Wow, these are amazing pictures. Did you take these?” Greg explained that he did take several of them, but many of the pictures were taken by a professional photographer he admired. They were symbolic to him because they depicted scenes from his former travels.
Greg does not display these stunning views to impress others with what he has done in the past. Rather, he likes having these photos as a constant reminder of all the beauty he has seen in his former expeditions. His stories of discovering sacred mountains in Nepal and encountering packs of wild horses in Chile’s Patagonia led to a discussion on his appreciation of photography.
Greg feels photography is the perfect “Good Life” activity because it forces one to use both sides of the brain to create something that represents beauty. Greg admits to becoming more of a left-brain individual after obtaining a law degree and working with technology companies that are mainly comprised of left brain engineers. However, he feels that he has a strong creative side, and he has recently found the Good Life in activities that use both his creative and analytical talents.
Greg explained how he uses his left brain to think about the precision and technical aspects of using technology to make a photograph. However, he must also use his right brain to imagine how to compose a shot that will convey something that words cannot describe.
Photography is just one of the many hobbies that Greg has taken up in recent years that have given him a fuller picture of the Good Life. In fact, he admits that keeping his mind active and constantly learning has been one of the “game-changers” that has led to him finding the Good Life.
He recounted that his first Good Life Crisis came about when he was in his twenties. He resolved to learn something new every year of his life. Since then, he has learned to fly fish, studied computer programming, become a licensed EMT, and even obtained a motorcycle’s licensee and rode one day with the Hell’s Angels.
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