I got my flu shot at the doctor’s office last week, and while I was there I saw a quote on the wall that read:
Quality is not an act, it is a habit. ~Aristotle
This simple statement struck a chord with me, and as I sat waiting for the nurse, I reflected on the idea of a “quality life.”
What does “quality of life” even mean?
What does “quality of life” mean to me, specifically?
How can we improve our quality of life?
While driving home after my appointment, these questions continued circling around in my mind and eventually, I settled upon a definition.
To me, quality of life is the sum of one’s happiness, energy, well-being, and health. And while our definitions of what constitutes “quality” might differ, there are certain overarching behaviors that can positively improve virtually everyone’s lives.
The PERMA Theory
Within the past 20 years or so, there’s been a movement toward the practice of “Positive Psychology” with the PERMA theory. Introduced by Dr. Martin Seligman, the PERMA theory examines five elements that make up a high quality of life. These areas include positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement.
According to Dr. Seligman, we can increase our positive emotion by cultivating gratitude and forgiveness for past events, focusing on the present while practicing mindfulness, and feeling hope and excitement for the future.
Engagement means fully absorbing yourself in the present. You get into a “flow” state, where you use your skills, strengths, and mental focus, to work on a challenging task.
As Seligman explains, “in such an activity, concentration is fully absorbed in the moment, self-awareness disappears, and the perception of time is distorted in retrospect, e.g., time stops.” You can practice full engagement with a wide range of activities, from reading a book, to doing a challenging workout, to having a thoughtful conversation, to playing an instrument, etc.
Relationships foster a feeling of connection and belonging. As social beings, we thrive on making connections with other people. What’s more, all of the experiences that contribute to a high quality of life, whether that’s laughter, a feeling of accomplishment, excitement, etc. are further enhanced with healthy relationships.
Filling your days with purpose is key to having a high quality of life. Experiencing this sense of meaning often stems from belonging to something that is bigger than ourselves. As Dr. Seligman notes, there are many different institutions that help foster this feeling of meaning, “such as religion, family, science, politics, work organizations, justice, the community, social causes (e.g., being green), among others.”
Achieving something almost always provides us with a sense of accomplishment. And this, too, contributes to a high quality of life.
By setting goals for yourself, whether in the workplace, personal hobbies, your relationships etc. you open the opportunity to experience achievement and fulfillment more often.
(Want to learn more about the PERMA theory? Be sure to check out Dr. Seligman’s work. I especially enjoyed Flourish.)
10 Simple Strategies to Improve Your Quality of Life
So, we understand that we must fill our lives with positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement. But how can we do this? What activities should we pursue to increase our quality of life?
Here are my top 10 suggestions:
#10. Get Moving Every Day
Whether you spend time at the gym, you love swimming laps in the pool, or you aim for 10,000 steps a day, exercise is key for a high quality of life.
Studies have continually shown that regular activity improves not only your physical health but also your mental and emotional well-being. Regular exercise increases your circulation, improves your heart and brain health, strengthens your muscles, boosts your mood, and enhances your general outlook on life.
Start incorporating exercise in your daily routine and watch your quality of life improve.
(Need help sticking with your health and fitness goals? Check out my post here!)
#9. Daily Meditation
If you’re anything like me, you’ve practiced meditation once or twice, and then you dismissed it. Perhaps your mind wandered constantly, so you convinced yourself that you’re “bad” at meditation and that the practice isn’t for you.
I get it; I felt the same way for a long time.
After practicing meditation consistently for a few months now, however, I’m singing a different tune.
Here’s the deal: even a few minutes of meditation can play a major role in enhancing your quality of life. It encourages you to check in with yourself. It promotes mindfulness, and it helps you live in the moment.
I’ve been practicing morning meditation for about 5-10 minutes before work each day, and it’s remarkable the difference these few minutes of inward focus have made. What’s more, anyone can meditate, you can practice it anywhere, and it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. All you need is a quiet place to close your eyes.
How do you start? Just follow these simple steps:
- Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with your back straight.
- Breathe normally and focus all of your attention on your breath as it fills and exits your lungs.
- If your thoughts start to stray, gently them back to your breath as soon as you notice.
- Start with five to ten minutes and work your way up from there.
- That’s it. (See? I told you that you could do it!)
#8. Spend Time Outside
Enjoying the outdoors is another beneficial way to enhance your well-being and quality of life. Spending time in the sunshine provides your body with the necessary Vitamin D it needs, while the fresh air helps lower your stress levels.
In fact, according to research by the Harvard Medical School, spending time outdoors promotes a more active lifestyle, elevates your mood, improves your concentration, and may even help those in pain heal quicker. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me!
So grab your sneakers and go enjoy the fresh air.
#7. Keep learning
Although I finished my schooling, I still consider myself a perennial student. I love to learn, and I get a rush of excitement when exploring new ideas.
If you can relate, then I have exciting news for you; continuous learning is a great way to improve the quality of your life.
When you learn new things, you enhance your brain health by expanding and challenging your worldview. Additionally, by working on a new project or skillset, you’re moving closer to your personal goals, which provides that important feeling of accomplishment. Finally, exploring new opportunities is a great way to meet people and strengthen your relationships as well!
#6. Connect with Others
Feeling a connection with others through strong, healthy relationships improves your quality of life in countless ways. Healthy relationships can offer comfort and support whenever you need it, while simply conversing with others provides that valuable sense of connection and belonging to something greater than yourself. Spend some time each day enhancing your relationships, whether that’s through a phone call, a kind gesture, or a long-overdue coffee date, and watch your quality of life soar.
#5. Master your time management
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve come to see time as my most valuable commodity. It is the one thing I can never get back, and therefore, I strive to “spend” it as wisely as possible.
When we practice effective time management, we have an easier time kicking distraction and procrastination to the curb. What’s more, we often have an increase in productivity, a decrease in stress levels, and more time to focus on our big goals.
If you’re ready to master your time management skills, be sure to check out my top five time management strategies here.
#4. Practice Self-Care
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can’t pour from an empty glass.
It’s no secret that we are a busy bunch of humans. We play the role of partner, sibling, child, parent, friend, and employee to so many people. We give of ourselves constantly, and we rarely put our needs first.
But here’s the deal, when we don’t take care of ourselves, we move closer and closer to burnout. When that happens, we have a hard time controlling our emotions and focusing on the positive, and we lack the energy to live our best lives.
So, if you want to truly enhance the quality of your life, then it’s time to start practicing daily self-care (YES, Daily!).
If you’re not sure how to do this, or if you think there’s not enough time in the day, be sure to check out my post all about incorporating daily self-care into your life here.
#3. Take risks
I’ll be the first to admit that stepping out of your comfort zone can feel scary. The familiar is safe and secure; it doesn’t challenge our thoughts or push us in new or uncomfortable directions.
But guess what. The familiar doesn’t allow us to grow, either.
In order to experience your best quality of life, you need to leave the familiar behind. If you want to have new ideas, build confidence, work toward difficult goals, and experience incredible opportunities, you must be willing to take a few risks along the way.
So, every once in a while, challenge yourself to leave the familiar behind. Step out of your comfort zone into a new world of new possibility.
[bctt tweet=”Challenge yourself to leave the familiar behind. Step out of your comfort zone into a new world of new possibility. #BestLife #DreamBig #LifeYourLife” username=”BusyBeingPaula”]
#2. Get clear about your dreams
Taking time to know and understand what makes you happy is key to a high quality of life. By knowing this information about yourself, you’ll have an easier time identifying your goals, aligning your behaviors with your beliefs, and feeling satisfied with your life.
By getting clear on your dreams, you provide yourself with a sense of direction, which allows you to set goals and continue working toward your best life.
Need a little boost of motivation? Check out my post, why you should dream big and reach for your goals.
#1. Get inspired.
Inspiration is key when it comes to motivation and chasing your dreams. Spend some time seeking out that inspiration on a daily basis.
What gives you inspiration? What encourages action and motivates you to work toward your goals?
Surround yourself with this inspiration daily, and you’ll find your quality of life continually increasing.
Looking for a way to incorporate more inspiration in your life? Check out my post about how to create a vision board here!
Cultivate Good Habits
So, now we know why we should seek an optimal life, and we have the strategies to start working toward this objective, but how can we stick with our goals?
The secret lies in cultivating good habits.
As the Aristotle reminded us as the beginning of this post:
Quality is not an act, it is a habit.
For example, if getting enough exercise is a great way to increase your quality of life, but you only get to the gym once per month, you might not see the results you want. By making this practice a daily habit, however, you’ll start seeing that impact sooner.
So how do we maintain good habits? Great question!
One of the best ways to stick with your good habits is through repetition and accountability. And my favorite solution to fulfill both of these objectives comes in the form of a habit tracker.
By recording your habits and tracking them daily, you help boost your motivation, strengthen your resolve, and bring yourself closer to reaching your goals. What’s more, the more you practice, the stronger those habits become. Before you know it, they will be automatic behaviors, and you can move on to the next goal in your journey toward your living your best life.
Want to give habit tracking a try? Then be sure to download your free habit trackers here! You will get a 3 different weekly habit trackers to help you live your best life in no time. Let’s do this!
What activities or strategies lead to your best quality of life? Do you practice any of the 10 suggestions I listed? Do you ever track your habits? Let me know below!