“Fact: If the standard of living is your number one objective, quality of life almost never improves. But if the quality of life is your number one objective, the standard of living invariably improves.” — Zig Ziglar
How to Improve the Quality of your Life
Do you find yourself feeling frustrated on a daily basis? Do you feel like a zombie, waking up each day to the same repetitive cycle that seems never-ending? Has the quality of your life decreased over time, resulting in a loss of energy, vitality, and enthusiasm for the future?
We all get frustrated from time to time. Life can be overwhelming, even for the most astute-minded individuals. Without understanding where our lives are headed and why they’re headed there, the tough times can seem overbearing. Usually, we want to throw our hands up in silent resignation and utter the words, “I give up.”
However, life doesn’t have to overwhelm, and it most certainly doesn’t have to frustrate. You can improve the quality of your life by making a few small adjustments to your routines by altering your behavior and your way of thinking. And keep in mind that you’re not alone; we all go through long periods of frustration, anxiety, fear, upset, and worry.
It’s not difficult to overcome some of our natural tendencies to slip into a state of marginal depression. Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. But, oftentimes, the quality of our lives has more to do with the foundational habits that we routinely run on a daily basis. By improving our habits, we can improve the quality of our lives on multiple spectrums.
Defining a Quality of Life
Firstly, let’s describe what we mean by “Quality of Life.” For those of you who think that the quality of your life is equivalent to your standard of living, you’re wrong. Now, your standard of living, which essentially equates to your income, does have a marginal effect on your quality of life, but it isn’t the full picture.
Quality of life, as defined here, is the sum total of your health, happiness, vitality, leisure, and income. This formulaic approach helps to paint a better picture of the overall quality that people are subjected to. Yet, many people simply define their quality of life by the amount of money they have. And, while money is a good barometer, it isn’t the full equation.
Now, money does make the world go round. People with access to money and resources can most certainly improve many areas of their lives. But it’s also been proven in studies that those same people aren’t statistically that much happier. An increase in income only equates to a temporary improvement in happiness. Eventually, happiness levels baseline again.
Think about it in your past. Maybe you received the promotion you were hoping for or you landed a dream job. For a short period, you were happy. But it was fleeting. Happiness doesn’t last forever when it comes to monetary gains, and it’s not the full picture. While money does give you access to “things,” there’s a reason why the saying “The best things in life are free,” exists.
The Hedonic Treadmill
In 1971, 2 behavioral psychologists, Donald T. Campbell and Phillip Brickman coined the term, “Hedonic Treadmill,” also known as “Hedonic Adaptation.” The term makes reference to the natural tendencies for humans to revert back to a set point of happiness after major changes – either positive or negative – to their lives.
The Hedonic SetPoint, then, is a baseline of happiness that we all have, which we tend to revert to, even after things like a traumatic event or a major windfall of cash through say a lottery winning. In a study published by Campbell and Brickman, they showed that both lottery winners and paraplegics all returned to a baseline level of happiness sometime after the event.
They further argue that we all have a baseline Hedonic Set Point, which is determined through hereditary means and experiential knowledge. And, although the baseline level of happiness might be different for everyone, the concept is very important to understanding the root of happiness and improving the quality of your life.
Improving your Life
There are certain ways that you can positively influence the quality of your life. Increasing things like income is much more obvious to people than say increasing their happiness, health, or vitality. Money seems cut and dry. You either have more of it or you don’t. It’s easy to quantify.
But how about the rest of it?
Health, happiness, vitality, and leisure are also important aspects of the quality of life. How do you go about improving those?
Through the promotion and adherence to a certain set of positive habits.
Good Habits Increase the Quality of your Life
If you want to improve the quality of your life, you must do so using good habits. You have to eliminate bad habits and form good habits. Easier said than done, right?
In a new book that I’m just putting the final touches on now, I talk about what it takes to transform your life through something that I’ve coined “Habit Shifts.” These are small disruptive and integrative behaviors to existing routines that help to boost the quality of your life in the long term.
Good habits help to foster an increased level of happiness, vitality, health, income, and leisure. It just won’t happen overnight. Here are the top habits to help improve the quality of your life across these 5 spectrums:
When it comes to our overall level of happiness, there are 5 top habits that you can institute on a daily basis to boost your overall level of joy and content.
1. Smile, even when stressed
The effects of smiling on stress have been well-documented. Smiling helps to send a strong impulse to the mind, which then alters your neurochemistry. Studies have shown that people who were told to hold a genuine Duchenne smile on their faces had lower heart rates after stressful activities.
If you can’t force yourself to smile, put a pencil in your mouth and the natural curvature of your mouth will help you to engage s standard smile. Try this for 15 to 20 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised, even if you feel depressed, on just how much this elevates your mood.
2. Daily gratitude
Spend 15 to 30 minutes every single day listing off what you have to be grateful for. Even if you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for, search for something. Maybe you’re in a financial hole, but at least you have the intellect in your mind and the ability to walk, talk, and reason. If you search, you can always find something to be grateful for.
Oftentimes, when we think about it, we dwell on things that we’re unhappy about. Until we lose something that we took for granted, such as a person, health, freedom, job, or anything else, we don’t realize just how good we had it. But you can change that. Thank the universe every single day for all that you have every single day. Put it out there in the world. Make it a habit.
3. Connect and spread love
One sure-fire habit to develop that will boost overall happiness is the act of connecting and spreading love. Give someone a hug or let someone hug you. Pick up the phone and tell someone that you appreciate them, or simply listen to what someone has to say. You’ll be surprised and just how satisfying it will be to take an interest in someone else’s life.
This takes one phone call or in-person meeting per day. It can be with someone that you already spend your time with. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Show them love and kindness; pour it from your heart. What you put out into the world, you receive back 10-fold. Make this a habit and you will live a much happier life.
This doesn’t have to be a religious experience. Simply practicing the art of meditation will boost your overall happiness, decrease stress, lower blood pressure, and ease anxieties. One recent study, published in JAMA’s Internal Medicine states just that: mindfulness meditation will ease the psychological stresses associated with depression, anxiety, and pain.
All it takes is 15 minutes of mindful meditation to achieve this habit. Sit quietly and be present. Don’t think about the past or the future. Don’t dwell on things or worry, just be in the moment. Sit silently with your eyes closed and listen to the sounds around you. Feel the air moving in and out of your lungs, the warmth of the sun on your shoulders, the coolness of the breeze moving across the room, and so on. Just be present. That’s all it takes.
5. Daily Learning
On a daily basis, learning is critical for our happiness, but it also affects other spectrums of our life’s quality as well. It allows us to grow, mature, and gain experiential knowledge of the world. It allows us to put life into perspective, and ultimately achieve our dreams by laying the groundwork for our personal and professional lives.
Find a newspaper, magazine, video tutorial, blog, or anything else that you enjoy using as a learning resource. Learn every single day and spend 15 to 30 minutes doing this. You don’t have to commit to huge blocks of time. As long as you do a little bit every single day, but you do it every single day, over time, this habit will help you to be a much happier and well-rounded person.
These are daily health habits as opposed to yearly health habits such as visiting the doctor or dentist. You should institute at least these top 5 health habits each and every single day.
1. Eat breakfast
You’ve heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And it’s no lie. Studies have shown that women who skipped breakfast at least once a week were at a higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes. By eating breakfast, studies have also shown that men had lower incidences of heart disease.
The benefits are even far greater for eating breakfast every single day and stretch into an increase in memory and weight loss, and a lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol). Your body needs a healthy, balanced, and nutritional breakfast to help it operate optimally throughout the day. Don’t rob it of that.
2. 10,000 steps
Maybe you can’t exercise every single day. But you can most certainly ensure that you walk at least 10,000 steps. Walking 10,000 steps has extraordinary health benefits. Too often, we don’t walk even close to 10,000 steps. In fact, studies have suggested that waking 10,000 steps per day not only helps with weight loss but that it also helps to decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
If you don’t presently do much walking, then this might pose some difficulty for you. However, there are hacks here. You can change up your routine, for example, if you presently drive everywhere, by walking a long distance to and from your car. You might find this cumbersome at first, but you will build the habit up slowly over time. Do what it takes to hit your 10,000 steps per day goal.
3. 64 ounces of water
Everyone knows the health benefits of water. Human adult bodies consist of up to 60% water, the brain and heart consist of 73% water, and the lungs consist of approximately 83% water. But, too often, we don’t take in enough water. We generally tend to get our water intake from sugary sodas, coffees, and other unhealthy drinks.
The general rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 8-ounce glasses of water, which is 64 ounces. But, if you want to get more technical and follow more scientific guidelines, the Institute of Medicine determined that men should be 3 liters (13 cups) and women should be getting 2.2 liters (9 cups)
4. Vitamins & minerals
There are so many health benefits to ensuring that you get the proper vitamins and minerals every single day, that they’re too long to list. Ensure that you’re taking at least one daily supplement to receive the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs every single day. These are necessary for all types of optimal mind & body functioning.
Oftentimes, we don’t get the necessary vitamins and minerals simply from the food and drink that we consume. Considering that most people consume a predominately unhealthy variety of food & drink, this is no big surprise. Make this a must-have health habit for you and find an excellent once-a-day supplement that you can take to satisfy your daily needs.
5. Brush & floss teeth
Brushing & flossing might not seem like a must-have health habit, but it is. There are so many health benefits associated with brushing and flossing every single day. They help to stave off gum disease, which, if left untreated, can result in even more serious illnesses such as heart disease, erectile dysfunction in men, and delayed conception in women.
Other side effects of gum disease are dementia and arthritis, and that patients experiencing gum disease also have problems with memory loss, joint inflammation, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The amount of energy that you have on a given day has a lot to do with your habits. People with poor habits tend to have a lack of energy and vitality. Habits affect not only your physical state-of-being but also your mental state-of-mind.
1. Priority Management
People who effectively manage their priorities have an increased amount of energy and vitality. Managing your priority demands daily attention and a pursuit of the important over the urgent. This means delineating your tasks so that you’re pursuing those all-important long-term goals and not simply reacting to the urgent matters that come up in your day.
Priority management can be achieved by creating lists and building tasks for the day based on their order of importance and urgency. This also involves the elimination of bad habits such as procrastination, over-watching television, over-surfing the internet, and so on.
2. Get at least 7 Hours of Sleep
Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night is critical to your vitality. So many important functions take place in the mind and body when we sleep. It’s our body’s chance to rest, unwind, and recharge. While we’re consciously out, so to speak, our unconscious mind and body are busy at work restoring, recharging and re-energizing.
Most people suffer from sleep deficiency, which has an overall effect on mood, energy, health, and mental well-being. Multiple studies have suggested that not only doe sleep help to improve things like memory, but it also helps to boost the longevity of life, increase awareness, and spur creativity.
3. Eat Green foods
In order for the body to survive, it must maintain a pH level of 7.365, which is slightly alkaline on the scale. When we ingest foods, the body breaks them down and uses their foundational inorganic components for the basis of its energy. That can either be acidic in nature (i.e. sugar, coffee, etc.) or alkaline in nature (i.e. fruits, vegetables, and so on).
To meet this necessity for an alkaline demand by the body, we must ingest foods that are alkaline in nature. The best kinds of foods are green foods – foods that are organic in nature such as root vegetables, fruits, lemons, peppers, and so on. Too much acid can lead to coma or death, and in less extreme cases, other illnesses.
Exercising at least 20 minutes each day can have enormous health benefits. Most people don’t make exercise a habit, and in turn, suffer from a lack of vitality. The body needs to move and you need to break a sweat, for it to be considered exercise. And, while walking 10,000 steps each day increases your overall health, it’s not the same as exercising.
Find a simple exercise regimen and stick to it. Regardless of what kind of exercise you do, simply do something. Whether it’s light jogging, weights, yoga, or some other lightly-strenuous activity, merely getting started will help to build the habit. Don’t expect to go from zero to hero overnight. Building this habit takes time. Start small and build slowly over time.
5. Inspirational Input
One of the best ways to add vitality to your life is through daily inspiration. What’s your inspiration? What inspires and motivates you to push towards your dreams? Give yourself the added boost needed by seeking out some form of information, whatever it may be.
One of the best ways to achieve this is through imagery. Pictures are most certainly worth a thousand words, and by hanging those photos somewhere you’ll see daily, you can help to inspire and motivate you towards your dreams. We all get a little bit frustrated from time to time, but if you spend 15 to 20 minutes each on inspirational input, you’ll see enormous results.
Whether you want to make a thousand dollars more a month, or a million, developing good income habits help to drive us towards those goals. Check out the 5 most popular income habits you need to implement on a daily basis.
1. Set & Review Goals
Setting and reviewing goals on a daily basis is important to achieving your income goals. This is one of the best habits that you can have towards the pursuit of your monetary goals. S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting involves setting (S) specific, (M) meaningful, (A) achievable, (R) relevant, (T) time-bound goals that are (E) evaluated, and (R) re-evaluated per time.
Develop a system for setting goals and ensure that you engage in goal setting every single day. Pursue the goals that are important to you, and ensure that you build checklists to help you accomplish what you want over time.
2. Save 20% of your income
Oftentimes, it takes adhering to a strict schedule of saving over a long period to get ahead. This money isn’t just for emergencies; it’s moment-of-opportunity cash. It’s money that needs to be used when the right opportunity for investment presents itself. At least 20% of your income should be saved, in order to build up your funds for investment opportunities.
Your savings should be automated. Set up a savings account to automatically deduct the funds from your personal account every single time you get paid. Ensure that the money goes out before you can even get used to seeing it in your checking account and make sure that you can’t touch it in your savings account.
3. Track & audit expenses
Many people can tell you their income right off the bat. They know just how much money they make since it generally tends to be fixed. But, most people can’t tell you how much they spent in a certain category of expense last month. Close enough attention isn’t paid to money that’s going out, just money that’s coming in.
Tracking & auditing expenses should be done on a daily basis. Whether you use a notepad or a digital spreadsheet, it’s important to know every penny going out the door. Small leaks sink big ships. $5 per-day latte habits equate to $1825 spent on coffee a year. $20 lunches out every single day equate to $7300 a year. Track and audit all of your expenses.
Education is one of the most important income habits that you can harbor. Without education, an advancement over time in career and income becomes incredibly difficult. And, education must be instituted on a daily basis, and not something that happens once or twice a year. Spend at least 30 minutes each day with education in your career or towards investments.
If you’re not subscribed to a newsletter, magazine, or newspaper in your intended field, then this is the time to do so. Whether you read it online or in print, subscribe to something that can help to advance your career. If you want to educate yourself on investments, even better. Spend each day learning just a little bit, and over time, you’ll see tremendous results.
5. Daily budgeting
Create and stick to a budget, and follow it religiously. This should allow you to save and invest your money over time. If you don’t stick to a budget, it’s much harder to get ahead and accomplish your income goals. Knowing just how much money you can or can’t spend every day will help you to get ahead.
Take your monthly budget and divide it into a daily budget. Cut expenses where you can and put as much money as possible towards your savings. Time will pass by quickly so ensure that you’re putting your money where it counts.
What you do in your spare time has a significant impact on the quality of your life. There are 5 habits that you can institute when you do happen to have time for yourself, which will considerably improve your life.
1. Get organized
“Clean house, clean mind.” Spend a few minutes of your leisure time organizing your surroundings. Take 5 minutes to clean up your desk, declutter, or simply to throw things away. You’ll be surprised at how much your quality of life will increase when you get organized.
But, getting organized isn’t just about cleaning and decluttering. Getting organized also has much to do with developing habits that will help to shape and mold the direction of your life. Know where you’re going and ensure that you have a certain sense of clarity. Focus, envision and get organized.
Most people take their leisure time to themselves. However, to increase the quality of your life, developing the leisure habit of contributing will help to make an enormous difference. By contributing, you’re sending a clear message to your unconscious mind that there’s more than enough for you to go around, both of your time and your money.
And, even if you don’t have extra money to contribute, contribute your time. There are others out there that are in dire straits and need help in any form, and giving your time is one of the best gifts that you can give. Spend some time every day seeking out ways that you can contribute.
3. Socialize & network
Boost the quality of your life by socializing and networking. It’s been said that 79% of rich people spend 5 hours or more networking, whereas the poor spend 16% of their time doing so. But, networking doesn’t have to be justified solely for business. take an interest in other peoples’ lives and you’ll be surprised just how much it will come back to you.
4. Do one thing you’re afraid of
Do one thing that you’re afraid of every single day. Take your leisure time to the next level by developing this habit. What are you afraid to do? Why are you afraid to do it. Too often, we can’t get ahead because of how scared we are of something. Fear and anxiety seem to be crippling to us. Overcome your fears and force yourself to do just one thing you’re afraid of doing.
5. Do one thing you’ve been putting off
Do one thing that you’ve been putting off every single day. This is a tremendous way to overcome procrastination and build the leisure habit of moving your life forward. Create a list of all the things that you’ve been putting off. Then, commit to spending just 15 minutes each day doing one of those things. Even if you can’t complete it, make sure that you spend 15 minutes doing it.