One night, I woke up at 2:00 am to smoke rising from our bedroom window. The wind was blowing, and the wildfires, which were burning with fire, were getting worse and worse.
Fear gripped me. My mind raced as I thought of all the possibilities for the next.
Suddenly, I felt a deep sense of peace prevailing. I could see my breathing. I felt my heartbeat. I remembered that at the time, I was fine. My family was fine. I did not know what to expect, but I was comforted in knowing that in that short time, there was still much good. That change made a difference.
There may be a time in my life when I think that a decent life reaches a certain level of success. Now, I look at life very differently.
I now believe that living a high standard of living is about times like these – times when things are difficult and somehow, we find our way to change things, from fear to calmness, from suspicion to empathy, from distraction to clarity – times when we can be thankful for everything right much seems wrong.
We may not always do this – most of us do not. It is only natural to complain or feel intimidated when times are difficult. We may not do as we wish. We can make mistakes, many of them. We may not do things perfectly.
But when we get out of line, I think the secret to a better life lies in finding a way back, changing things, doing something difficult or unwilling, fixing things, getting a silver lining, and staying with others even when we feel scared.
To help us do this more often – to make a difference in our lives – I have found that asking these nine questions can be helpful. Here are 9 questions you can ask yourself to improve your quality of life.
- What Do You Appreciate?
If life were to end or change dramatically for you today, what would you love most? What is most important to you? What is most important?
Our lives are rich if we ask ourselves this question over and over again and challenge ourselves to reflect those principles daily in the choices we make, in the thoughts we think, and in the words we say, day by day. We may be distracted or out of the way, not forgetting, but the more we connect with what is most important to ourselves, the better our health becomes.
- What Different Gift Do People Get by Living Near You?
Sometimes, we get caught up in life and forget one basic truth – we are different, and because of that difference, we all have something to offer others and the world that no one else can do. That is very important.
It is important. You have value that has nothing to do with what you have earned. Your value is simply the result of who you are.
Who are you, really? Who are you when no one else is and you are doing something you love to do just for the fun of it? Who are you when you are alone with your thoughts? Who were you when you were a child being bewitched by the wonder of our world?
If you are just a human being, connected to a very high person, without worrying about what other people think, how do you feel? What is your strength? What about you? What about others around you if you are in that situation?
This is your gift. One thing I do know for sure: when you are able to connect with that power – that essence of who you are – and accept it and let it shine, your health improves. Confirmed.
- What Do You Represent?
If a loved one needs your help at a particularly difficult time, what would you like him to know? What advice would you give that would make a difference? What is your own message – something that answers many problems in your life and in your mind – that can best help others?
I believe that living a high quality life is about spreading our unique message, wisdom, and encouragement in any way that comes to us as often as possible through our actions, our strengths, and our words.
- Who Loves the Most?
When we are in trouble, it is clear who is most important to us. Right now, who are the people you love and care about the most? Who can remember them the most when they are gone?
When we put our full potential into our relationships with these people – striving to be a better parent, partner and friend – our lives improve.
This means developing and cultivating these relationships, learning to listen, reaching out, telling others that we care, and asking how others are. Cultivating depth in our relationships stems from a willingness to learn from others, to see the unique value they provide, and to express gratitude.
True love means giving up small things, setting boundaries of love, doing our job, empathy and understanding, giving of ourselves fully, and reminding these special friends and family members as often as they can mean so much to us.
The words “I love you,” eye contact and deep connection with presence, attention, and really listening can make miracles happen in our relationships and lives.
- What Makes You Happy?
What brings you the greatest happiness, the deepest kind? Is the balance in your test book or when the child stretches out his hand to give you a cheerio or a puppy jumping a toy? Is it your strings and lips, or is it the rush you get when you create or do something you absolutely love in your creative space?
Do you find pleasure in looking at pictures of all the places you want to go someday, or do you look at the amazing beauty of the place you are in right now – like a wild flower sprouting with the death of concrete or the way the sun shines hitting your kitchen window?
The more we focus on the good in our lives each minute by thanking and honoring those things that bring us true happiness, the greater our happiness.
- What Makes You Laugh?
Real humility comes with humor. When we see how ridiculous our weakness is, we stop thinking about it.
What mistake did you just make? What is something completely embarrassing about the person who did it? What is goofy about you that makes you laugh?
When we gain the ability to soften our personality – stop trying so hard to be perfect or beautiful, produce, succeed or do better and instead accept ourselves as we are – there is softness in us that leads us to be more lovable, understanding and loving to others.
This is not a form of bullying that is ridiculous and sensitive. This is the kind of laughter that is kind and magnetic, a kind of humility when we do not take ourselves too seriously and are truly righteous by not always.
When we have the courage to recognize and accept ourselves – all of us, our quality of life improves.
- What Do You Really Want to Build?
Having a sense of purpose makes life better. Research supports this. Studies have shown that even at the end of life, having a project that gives a sense of purpose improves quality of life. It also builds our confidence. We remember our importance. We remember that we are important. And we have something worthwhile to get into when we need good distractions.
What is something you really want to build? What do you want to create for others to enjoy? What pursuit makes your heart sing?
It doesn’t have to be your job or your business. It could be a garden or an art project. It could be creating a beautiful home to feed. Whatever it is, give yourself time for whatever your soul calls you to create in this moment, this week, and in this life. Pouring it all out will make your life better.
- What Doesn’t Work (and What Does It Do)?
What are some of the little things that oppose you? What do you do with them? Instead of complaining (which we all do), what is your plan? What can you do today to get started?
There is so much in our lives that is beyond our control, but there is so much in our hands that we often do not take the time to do.
Small things are important, even if they are cluttered, wanting to be in a better position, or cleaning up your neighborhood. If you find yourself complaining about too much (even if it’s just a secret), what is one simple step you can take today to improve?
The small steps go a long way when they are consistently made and tied all together. For now, choose to do one small thing to make your life better. Maybe your biggest complaint will one day be your big story to turn around.
- What helps you to turn things around?
What is your unique strategy for turning things around when life is not going as well as you would like? What helps you to reach out, forgive, repair relationships, or find things to be grateful for in difficult times?
What helps you to change when you are on the road to a bad situation? What helps you to change your thinking, regain your strength when you are feeling down, and choose to do good in the world and in your heart?
There is no simple formula for living a quality of life. Only you know what works best for you. Only you can change your feelings, relationships, self-care, and health. Only you can turn the ho-hum moment into one of the best things in your life.
Asking the nine questions above can help you find your personal formula to improve your quality of life. You may want to book this article again in the next nine days, ask yourself one of these questions, one a day.
Write about it, discuss it with a friend. Check your ah-has.
You already have the formula you need to improve your quality of life. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people.
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