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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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