Billy Yang’s “The Good Life” Reflects on Connection and Community During the Pandemic

“Every now and again, I sit back and wonder — did that actually happen?” Billy Yang poses this question at the start of his most recent film, “The Good Life.”

By Kristen Arendt on January 7, 2022 | Leave a reply

“Every now and again, I sit back and wonder — did that actually happen?”

Billy Yang poses this question at the start of his most recent film, “The Good Life.” Yang, a prolific ultrarunning filmmaker, does something a little different in his latest short film, asking viewers to consider what makes a good life when life becomes stranger than fiction.

In eight minutes, Yang takes an introspective and deep dive into what the past two years have meant for him as the world shut down due to COVID-19. Yang’s self-reflective film is both poignant and relatable, as he delivers his perspective on — and struggles with — living during a global pandemic.

Yang admits that he struggled mentally as the pandemic brought some of the most chaotic and uncertain times of his life. As organizers canceled race events, Yang found himself out of work and lacking community, a change that he says led to a loss of identity and purpose. He notes that his struggle was not necessarily with depression but a phenomenon some refer to as “languishing,” or the gray zone between depression and thriving in life.

“In the news and social media, much has been made about the economic and the obvious physical toll that the pandemic has had, but we must not forget the importance of good mental health and our chosen communities and their importance in feeding our soul,” he says in the film.

For Yang, the tie to the ultrarunning and running community more broadly was the missing piece of the puzzle, a realization he came to courtesy of a Ted Talk by psychologist Robert Waldinger. In the talk from 2015, Waldinger breaks down a 75-year-long Harvard University study on what makes for a happy or good life. And as it turns out, good relationships are the primary factor in staying happy and healthy.

If you have felt frustration, fatigue, or anxiety, struggled with a lack of motivation, inspiration, or community, or just straight-up missed your favorite running events or groups, Yang’s message in “The Good Life” will hit close to home. Grab the box of tissues, give it a watch, and then get out with your friends for a nice run.

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Kristen Arendt

is a freelance writer and editor specializing in the outdoors. Based in Niwot, Colorado, she ran competitively for over a decade on the track and roads before finding her love for trails.