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What The Good Place Can Teach Us About Living Life

Disclaimer: This is one of the best shows on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it yet, please don’t do yourself a disservice by reading an article full of spoilers, and please come back when you have thoroughly binged it.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the best shows out there are the ones that make watchers analyze the whole plot and apply it to their entire life story, even months after they have finished watching it. The Good Place, without a doubt, is one of those shows. But what makes The Good Place such a treasure to watch isn’t Chidi’s abs but is the journey that the main characters must embark on throughout all four seasons of the show. Their struggles and pitfalls are something anyone can resonate with, and while one article could never summarize the pure brilliance of this show, some of the biggest life lessons it teaches have been listed below.

1. Soul mates are not found, they’re made

This is something everyone can probably relate to. So many people in the world dream about the day they will meet that one fated person who will complete their life and make them endlessly happy. Chidi definitely fell into that trap, and honestly, who can blame him or anyone else for feeling this way? The world can be a harsh and dark place to live in, so it’s natural to want Santa Claus to throw a soul mate down your chimney. But the reality is that soul mates don’t work that way. Some initial chemistry between two people might be needed for that first spark, but a pre-determined connection from the universe is not what keeps the fire going. It’s the trials and tribulations that do, and how two people work together to drive over the bumps in the road. We see that in how Chidi and Eleanor, two people who could not be more opposite from each other on paper, fall in love with each other again and again. They fall in love because they choose to make it work and choose each other every day. They were not predetermined by a judge who decided they would look cute together.

2. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing

When the gang finally gets to the Good Place after battling way too many demons and facing death multiple times, they come to a stark and deadly realization. The Good Place really isn’t all that good (and then they realize they’re legally in charge of fixing all of it – no pressure). Having everything you could ever want handed to you on a silver platter for eternity is actually a crushing fate. It prevents you from ever needing to think and develop mental skills, and it keeps you in a complacent position where you never grow as a person. That’s why the gang decides to introduce an option where people of the Good Place are allowed to leave and disintegrate into the universe when they’re ready. Time and effort are what makes something valuable. Knowing that you won’t have something forever subconsciously gives you all the more reason to cherish it while it lasts. And when you have to work extra hard for a reward, it makes it all the more worth it in the end.

3. Every action has unintended consequences

Unfortunately, there isn’t a rule book in life that labels every action as either good or bad. Life isn’t black and white like that. Life is more of a twisted yet somewhat hopeful “choose your own adventure” game where every choice or action chosen will have unintended consequences that cannot be taken back. When Tahani tries to make Janet feel better about her marriage to Jason for legal purposes, every well-intentioned gesture or thoughtful thing she says only ends up making Janet feel even worse. Understand that every choice made in life will have its tradeoffs and benefits, and that there is no right way to live or perfect choice to make. The best thing you can do is just be authentic and true to yourself about your choices so that you don’t regret them.

4. Being a good person does not guarantee a happy ending

When Michael first meets Doug Forcett, he is in jaw-dropping awe at how someone could live their life so perfectly. But when he finds out that Doug is still destined to end up in the Bad Place, he is shaken to his core. As sad as it is, you could live your life to the definition-level of “perfect” and “ideal”, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll end up in the Good Place or that the universe will automatically reward you for it. While it’s a lifelong debate of whether actions matter more than intentions, you’re not a good person when your motivations are self-serving, such as getting into the Good Place. You should choose to be a good person because you genuinely want to be, not because you’re hoping you’ll get something out of it.

5. Hell isn’t a standardized place; hell is the inner demons you fight

Typically, when people hear the word “hell”, they picture the devil, a lot of pitchforks and an endless pit of burning lava that you can’t escape. But the truth is, real hell is the inner demons you fight every day when you decide to keep going. Hell is every insecurity, weakness, piece of emotional baggage and traumatic memory that you struggle with. That’s why when they redesign the Bad Place, they stop with the cliché monsters and penis flatteners. Instead, they decide to design a personalized hell for each individual based on their own psychological weak spots. In a way, that makes life so much more special – when you realize just how truly strong you are each time you have battled through hell.

6. It’s not about the destination, but about the choices you make on your journey

If Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason ended up in the Good Place right away, that would probably be the most boring show in the world and there would literally be no point to writing this entire article. What keeps watchers captivated isn’t the bittersweet ending, but the choices each person had to make in their own journey and how it led them to each other. Watching Eleanor re-meet Chidi in Australia when she comes across his philosophy videos and watching Michael risk everything and break the rules for a chance at setting things right in the afterlife is what makes people continuously binge this series. When you relate to the struggles each character has to face, it makes it more satisfying when you watch them overcome them. The same can be said for life in general – it would be anticlimactic if you got your dream life right away. The journey you take to get there and the choices you make in your own “choose your own adventure” game is what will make it worth it.

The creators of The Good Place did something so incredibly special with this show. Not only have they captured the attention of avid Netflix users across the world, but they have created a masterpiece that will continuously inspire people to change their ways of thinking and live their life to the fullest. While there might be no more new seasons planned for The Good Place, the life lessons that this show teaches will remain ingrained in the minds of anyone who is lucky enough to watch it.

Melissa Wang

Wilfrid Laurier '21

Melissa is a fourth year business student at Laurier with a huge passion for writing and sharing stories. In her spare time, you can find her running a 5km, taking a personality test for the tenth time, binging a novel when she really should be studying or deeply analyzing everyone around her.
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