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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life

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9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Living a quality life is about moments when things are tough and we still somehow find a way to turn things around, from fear to calm, from blame to empathy, from distraction to clarity—moments when we can be grateful for all that is right, even when so much seems wrong.

It’s natural to complain or feel fearful when times are tough. We might not act exactly as we want to. We might make mistakes or take actions we later regret.

However, when we get off track, I think the secret to a quality life lies in discovering how to find our way back, turn things around, make amends, find the silver lining, and sit with ourselves and others, even when we feel afraid.

To help us do this more often—create turnarounds in our lives—I have found that asking ourselves these nine questions can help. Here are questions you can ask yourself to improve your quality of life.

1. What Do You Value?

If life were to end or change dramatically for you today, what would you hold most dear? What would be most important to you?

Our lives become richer when we ask ourselves this question often and challenge ourselves to reflect on those values daily in the choices we make, thoughts we think, and words we say, day in and day out. We might get distracted or off track, but the more we connect with what matters most to us personally, the better our lives become.

If you’re not sure how to identify your values, check out this article to get started.

2. What Unique Gift Do People Receive By Just Being Around You?

Sometimes, we get so caught up in life that we forget one core truth—we are unique, and as a result of that uniqueness, we each have something to offer others and the world that no one else can. That is hugely important.

You have value that has absolutely nothing to do with what you have achieved. Your value is simply a result of being who you are.

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Who are you when no one else is around and you are doing something you love just for the sheer joy of it? Who are you when you are alone with your thoughts?

When you are just being you, connected to your highest self, without worrying what other people think, what do you feel like? What is your energy like? What is it like to be you? What is it like for others who are around you when you are in that state?

This is your gift. One thing I know for sure: the more you are able to connect with that energy—that essence of who you are—and accept and let it shine, the better your life becomes.

3. What Do You Stand for?

If someone you love needed your help during a very difficult time, what would you want them to know? What advice would you offer that would make a difference? What is your personal message—the thing that answers most dilemmas in your life and in your opinion—that can help others the most?

I believe moving toward a good quality of life is all about spreading our unique message, wisdom, and encouragement in whatever form it comes to us as often as possible through our actions, energy, and words.

4. Who Do You Love Most?

When we are in crisis, who matters most to us becomes clear. Right now, at this moment, who are the people you most love and care about? Who would you miss most if they were gone?

The more we put our full energies into our relationships with these people—striving to be the best parent, partner, and friend we can be—the better our lives become.

This means nurturing and cultivating these relationships, learning to listen, reaching out, telling others we care, and asking others how they’re doing. Cultivating depth in our relationships comes from being willing to learn from others, noticing the unique value they offer, and expressing gratitude.

Truly loving means letting go of the small stuff, setting loving boundaries, doing our own work, having empathy and understanding, giving of our full selves, and reminding these special friends and family members as often as possible how much they mean to us.

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5. What Brings You Joy?

What truly brings you pleasure, the kind that goes deep? Is it the balance in your checkbook or when a baby reaches out her hand and offers you a toy? Is it your ribbons and trophies, or is it the rush you get when you are creating or doing something you love completely in your creative zone?

Do you find joy when looking at photos of all the places you want to travel to some day, or looking around at the absolute miraculous beauty of where you are in this moment—like the wildflower sprouting up through a crack in the concrete or the way the sunlight is hitting your kitchen window?

The more we focus on what is good about our lives in each moment with gratitude and honor those things that truly bring us joy, the more our joy expands.

If you need some simple ways to practice gratitude, start here.

6. What Makes You Laugh About Yourself?

True humility comes with a sense of humor. When we realize how funny our foibles are, we stop taking them so seriously.

What’s a mistake you recently made? What’s something totally embarrassing and human you have done? What’s goofy about you that makes you chuckle?

When we gain the ability to soften around our humanity—to stop trying so hard to be perfect or the most beautiful, productive, successful, or best and instead embrace ourselves just as we are—there is a softness about us that naturally leads us to be more likable, understanding, and loving toward others.

This is not the bully kind of laughing at yourself that is mean and critical. This is the sheepish kind of laughter that is kind and magnetic, the sort of humility when we don’t take ourselves too seriously and are authentically okay with not always being okay.

7. What Do You Really Want to Create?

Having a sense of purpose makes life better[1]. Research has shown that even at the end of life, having a project that gives a sense of purpose improves the quality of life. We remember our value, and we have something worthwhile to dive into when we need a positive distraction.

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Improve your quality of life through a sense of purpose

    One study found that having a strong sense of purpose even decreased mortality in people over age 50 as it improves both physical and mental health[2].

    What is something you want to create? What is a pursuit that makes your heart sing?

    It doesn’t have to be your job or business. It might be a garden or an artistic project. It might be creating a beautiful, nurturing home.

    Whatever it is, make time for whatever it is that your soul is calling you to create in this moment, this week, and this lifetime. Pouring your whole self into it will improve your quality of life.

    8. What Isn’t Working (What Are You Doing About It)?

    What are those small things that are nagging you? What are you doing about them? Rather than complaining (which we all do), what’s your plan? What can you do today to start fixing them?

    There is so much in our lives that are out of our control, but there is a lot that is in our control that we often don’t take time to do.

    The small stuff matters, whether it’s clutter, wanting to be more fit, or cleaning up your neighborhood. If there’s something you find yourself complaining about a lot (even if it’s just in the privacy of your mind), what is one simple step you can take today to improve it?

    Little steps go a long way when done consistently and strung all together. Just for today, choose to do one small thing to make your life better. Maybe your biggest complaint will one day become your greatest turn-around story.

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    9. What Helps You Turn Things Around?

    What is your unique strategy for turning things around when life isn’t going as well as you’d like it to? What helps you to reach out, forgive, repair relationships, or find things to be grateful for in difficult moments?

    What helps you turn around when you’re heading down a path towards being in a bad mood? What helps you change your mindset, take your power back when feeling overwhelmed, and choose to do good in the world and your own heart?

    There is not a simple formula for creating a better quality of life. Only you know what works best for you. Only you can turn your mood, relationships, self-care, and life around. Only you can change a ho-hum moment into one of the best of your life.

    Final Thoughts

    Asking the above questions can help you uncover your personal formula for improving the quality of your life. You might want to bookmark this article and over the next nine days, ask yourself one of these questions, one per day.

    Journal about it, discuss it with a friend, and be on the lookout for your personal ah-has in order to start improving your long-term life satisfaction.

    You already have the formula you need to improve the quality of your life. You just have to uncover it and apply what your soul already knows about how to create the best life for you.

    More on Improving Your Quality of Life

    Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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    Laurie Smith

    Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

    How to Start Setting Intentions That Set You up for Success 13 Keys to Living Your Best Life and Aligning Your Priorities What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By Understanding the 5 Stages of Life Can Help Navigate Hard Times how to get out of a funk How to Get Out of a Funk When You’re Stressed Out

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    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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    How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

    Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

    But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

    Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

    It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

    Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

    Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

    It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

    So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

    A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

    Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

    The Four Quadrants of Change

    There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

    The four quadrants are:

    1. Internal individual – mindset
    2. External individual – behavior
    3. Internal collective – culture/support system
    4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

    All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

    First Quadrant — Internal Individual

    This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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    Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

    People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

    Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

    “Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

    One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

    Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

    Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

    I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
    I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
    I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
    I want to swim = I am a swimmer

    This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

    Second Quadrant — External Individual

    This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

    This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

    You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

    The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

    This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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    Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

    Negative Environmental Design

    This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

    If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

    Positive Environmental Design

    This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

    You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

    You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

    You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

    Two Sides of the Same Coin

    If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

    You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

    That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

    Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

    No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

    Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

    This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

    There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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    The Inner Ring

    These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

    So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

    In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

    You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

    Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

    You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

    The Outer Ring

    The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

    The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

    Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

    I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

    Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

    This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

    This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

    The same rules apply to companies.

    One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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    Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

    Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

    Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

    This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

    Leave

    You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

    Persevere

    This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

    Neglect

    This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

    These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

    I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

    Voice

    This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

    Putting It All Together

    When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

    1. Internal individual — mindset
    2. External individual — behavior
    3. Internal collective — culture/support system
    4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

    Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

    But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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    Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

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