We constantly hear that the quality of our lives depends on us. It’s all up to us. It’s all our responsibility and we are the ones to make it. Personally, it puts me under pressure. What do you mean all up to me? And what about the people around me? Don’t they have anything to do with it? And my job? And…?
Before we jump into allegations and anxiety, let’s calm down and take a few deep breaths… Before we try to understand what is our role in it, let’s first ask ourselves what does it mean when we say “a good quality of life”?
Does it mean wealth and having a tropical holiday twice a year?
Does it mean meditating every day?
Does it mean maintaining our morning routine? (Do you know what a morning routine is? Want to learn more about it? Then, check out our blog “How to be happier me” here)
Does it mean surrounding ourselves with friends and family?
Does it mean working in a job that we love?
I may argue that all of the above may indicate a good quality of life, but then I would also say that, we all rate the above options differently. If we read through the world happiness report, they put a good quality of life down to several measures, such as relationships, economic, education, etc. Yet, you rightfully ask: does happiness determine quality of life? My personal opinion is that I’m not so sure. We all hold different values and different social history and cutlure that we carry in our luggage. These values will determine what signifies a good quality of life in our minds and in our own individual lives.
Every individual holds a perspective and argument that they feel comfortable with and know as true. Some would argue that wealth means fewer financial worries and more options to choose from, which improves one quality of life. Some might claim that when you find the time to meditate each day? succeed in doing that, it indicates a good quality of life. Some would consider a good quality of life as reading a book every day.
There are so many perceptions about quality of life and that is before we even questioned the definition of what “good” means. By now you probably know that good is defined differently for everyone.
What’s fascinating about it all is that, most of us, in order to define what a good quality of life is, we reflect on the elements that are missing in our lives. We think of all the things we miss in ourselves. We focus on what we would like to have, but don’t have currently. We neglect to see and appreciate what we currently have as a “good quality of life”.
This perception is defined in the Positive Psychology field as “focusing illusion”. This term means that we live in a consciousness of absence. We don’t stop to appreciate and be grateful for all the things we do have; but instead, we focus on the things we wish to have, wish to have more of and wish to live by. What it also means is that this focused illusion creates a story in our heads of how we ‘should be’ feeling and living when we achieve something that we don’t have currently. For example, do you know how you would feel when you lose 5kg? When you meet a partner? When you get a promotion? When you find a job? These thoughts or predictions, take us away from our present and carry us to an ‘obscure perfect future’.
This obscure perfect future not only means that it can’t predict your happiness (after all you cannot know for 100% how you will feel) or know for 100% the results; it also means that we need to ask ourselves why?! (a few suggestions: fear of failure, non-existent plans or simply, because we actually painted a future that doesn’t really correlate with who we really are. It mostly correlates with what we think we should have and what we think we should be and what society suggests it should be). Moreover, it falsely predicts how we would feel when we get to that moment. When we focus on this particular future point, it takes us away from the moment that we are living in now.
This particular moment, when we think of the future instead of the right now, is a very critical moment. This moment takes us away from our present and creates despair, fear and negative emotions. Because this future, that we imagine seems most of the time, is unreachable and too glamorous to achieve.; It dictates our actions and our behaviour. You and I know that every action we take today affects our future.
Let me give you an example:you go out with your two best friends to a bar. Two men are approaching you and giving more attention to your friends. Your first instinct might be to underestimate yourself and say, “they probably noticed that I gained 2 kilos and that that the top I put on tonight doesn’t flatter me…” and so on and so forth…
Now let’s take the same event and perhaps now you interpret it by underestimating your friends by saying to yourself, “she flicks her hair in such a corny way. So cheap!” and, “the other didn’t put on her bra so no wonder…”
Let’s take the same scenario and say that you interpret it by thinking, “ you probably seem unreachable and too sophisticated for these blokes, and that’s why they don’t even look at you”. Well done to you. You have empowered yourself and lifted yourself above the rest.
Another and last option, is that you think that these men have actually escaped a boring office meeting or a mad house and were looking to pass the time until their boss will track them down and drag them along the street by their ears.
Any option you might choose to tell your brain to think, will affect your emotions and when you affect your emotions, you affect your behaviour and when you affect your behaviour you affect the results and when you affect the results, you affect your future and with it the quality of life. Is that too quick of analysis? Then let’s look into it deeper.
When you have decided to underestimate yourself by saying that you are not good enough, try to think of what happens to your emotions. Were you cheerful? Have you felt confident? Were you able to feel good? Chances are you haven’t considered your emotions and probably how your behaviour would have been affected by them. You might have withdrawn, had another drink and gotten drunk to the point that you behaved in such a ridiculous way that no wonder they guys even made fun at you. But it actually made you feel worse and justified your initial self-belief that ‘you are not enough’. Yeah, not a good feeling to live by.
Now think of how this feeling of unworthiness and affects your future. (Probably single or with the wrong type of partner who treats you by the way, the same way you treat yourself -not so great) Feeling like a failure and not being good enough have been carved in your existence. Having that knowledge in the back of your head, would that lead you to the ‘good quality of life’ that you would like to have? Would you be able to have it with such a deprecating attitude? Would you go to a job interview feeling that you are suitable for the job? Would you convince other people that actually you are enough when you don’t feel that way yourself? Think about it for a second, you actually are!
Let’s take the other option, when you have decided to underestimate your friends by viewing them negatively. You might have started to feel angry and jealous. You might have started to feel frustrated and that it’s unfair. Why them and not me? How would that affect your emotions? How do you behave when you’re angry and frustrated? Have another drink? Throw sarcastic arsenic comments around the table to sabotage the moment? Resent your friends? How would that affect the future? Two of your friends possibly won’t speak with you again… You wouldn’t go out with them again and be announced a party pooper… maybe you stop trusting them? They don’t support you? How would that affect your circle of friends? How does it affect your future? Would you have a supportive group of people when you decide to create a change? Or when you feel lonely? Would you have who to turn to when you need?
Let’s observe now the scenario when you decide to lift yourself up and feel good about yourself. How do you feel? You feel empowered and confident, don’t you? You control the world! You feel great!!!! Your body language changes as well. You may find that you even enjoy the attention your friends receive.Alternatively, you might try to move your attention to a place that interests you more or that would benefit you more. You might meet someone else maybe? How would that affect your future? Have you seen “I feel Pretty” with Amy Schumer? It is all about how making these changes can impact your life Go and watch it if you haven’t yet.
Shall we observe the last interpretation of events? You decided that the two Jacko’s who have escaped the office gathering have nothing to do with you or your friends or anything else. You made this whole scenario less personal to you or your friends. You detach yourself from it. As you can see, it was not about you or your friends; it was about these two strangers who you probably won’t see ever again (because they are really not your type anyway) and even if you do, you still won’t feel attached to it. How does it make you feel? Free? Amused? Happy? How does that affect your behaviour?
Do you see how it all folds down to you and what goes down in this (gorgeous) head of yours?
The way you look at the present events and the way you interpret their meaning, impacts the way you feel and the way you behave. That also means that you are the sole person to define what a good quality of life means. Not only that you should look at the present and decide that the way you behave today is the right way for you and the inat that will probably will affect your tomorrow. You have the ability to change your narrative in order to have a good quality of life now and this will have an affect on your future.
Thus, in order to have a good quality of life,in every event in your life, it’s up to you to manage it. You can underestimate yourself and your friends. You can empower yourself or your friends or you can detach yourself from it all. Each interpretation will determine how you feel and this will determine how you behave, and this will determine your future. What do you choose?
Last thing I would like to say is that you can never predict your future and how you will feel in it. Any road you choose to take will have a different result and every result will give birth to a different emotion. Don’t expect and wait for your future to be better. Make your present better! You have a greater chance to succeed in that!