The Good Life Conversation

Over the last four weeks I wrote about how the healthcare world and the health producing capacity of communities can get into better relationship. In this week’s blog, I’d like to focus on a specific tool that practitioners and citizens can use to change the conversation.

This is a set of questions, which I’ve developed to bring together Asset-Based Community Development and the Good Life Conversation. These questions are not intended to be used like a survey, they help steer us towards more life enhancing conversations, not better assessments. I’d like to extend thanks in particular to Al Etmanski, John O’Brien and Judith Snow among many others for their ground-breaking inclusion work, and for helping us see the importance of having a Good Life Conversation instead of doing an assessment or needs analysis.

In simple terms the following questions help people to explore what contributions they might make to communities in which they reside.

  1. What contributions do you like to make to others?
    • What’s your thing?
    • What’s your jam?
    • What do you like doing that makes you forget time?
  2. What matters to you that you’d join with others in doing?
  3. If three of your neighbours were willing to help, what would you love to do to make your community a better place to live?
  4. What are the three activities you do best?
    • Would you be willing to show someone else how to do one of them?
  5. What are the three skills you would most like to learn?
  6. What are your passions?
  7. What gives you greatest joy or pleasure?
  8. What kind of job (paid or unpaid) might be associated with your passion?
  9. What are your gifts of the head? What do you know about? (music, movies, singing, playing music, history, languages, birds, sports, books, etc.)
  10. What are your gifts of the heart? (volunteering, listening, being with children, nursing, poetry, caring for others, etc.)
  11. What are your gifts of the hands? (recycling, gardening, cooking, walking, stamp collecting, quilting, fishing, arts and crafts, driving, plumbing, delivering, sewing, cutting hair, ushering etc.)
  12. Which clubs or groups do you belong to?
    • Which are organized around your passions?
    • Which ones exist in your community?
  13. What could you teach others?
  14. What would you like to teach others?
  15. What product or service would you enjoy selling?
  16. If you could start a business, what would it be?
  17. What are your favourite games?
  18. How do you have fun?
  19. Do you have other hobbies or special interests we have not talked about?
  20. Have you ever made anything?
  21. Have you ever fixed anything?
  22. What is your greatest accomplishment in life so far?
  23. What will be your greatest accomplishment in the future?
  24. Can you imagine your most challenging characteristic turned into a gift or contribution?
  25. Where in the community do you think you could make your contribution/share one of your gifts?


The above questions form an optional menu, a skilled conversationalist will dip into these to discover which best suit the person and the circumstances within which the Good Life Conversation is occurring.

Cormac Russell

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