Quality of life means different things to different people. Happiness also takes a variety of forms. According to a Harris Poll conducted in 2013, only 33 percent or one in three Americans are very happy. However, quality of life and happiness share some common components, good health, financial security and a sense of well-being. While no one experiences a perfect life, it is possible build a better one by bringing these three components into balance.
Keep it moving.
In order to optimize your years and your health, include daily physical activity in your life. This does not necessarily require you to have a gym membership or a regular workout routine. It simply means you spend at least 30 minutes of your day doing some moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. You may choose to engage in dancing, a brisk 30 minute walk, gardening, play intramural sports and more. You can even break your activity into short increments throughout your day as long as it adds up to 30 minutes or more of activity.
When you choose your physical activity, focus on functional fitness. Choose activities which support daily movements, standing from sitting, walking, driving, using stairs, lifting 10 to 15 pounds and actions which require balance. Many accidents and physical restrictions in the elderly are tied to their level of functional fitness.
Along with functional fitness, good nutrition sets a strong foundation for good health and a better life. Follow a balanced and varied diet of nutritionally dense foods, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. These food choices give the body the materials it needs to build and maintain healthy cells.
Get some rest.
Sleep deprivation affects approximately 30 million Americans. About 20 percent of Americans average 6 hours of sleep per night. Most people require seven to eight hours of sleep to be at their best physically and cognitively. Aside from causing deficits in attention and thinking capacity, sleep deprivation places people at higher risk for diabetes, accidental injury, high blood pressure and stroke.
Sleep is more important than many people realize. The brain and body do important maintenance work while we sleep. The brain consolidates the day’s learning while the body completes maintenance to its tissues and systems.
Pursue a work-life balance to suit your needs.
Many people cite quality of life issues as one of the key reasons for their unhappiness. We all need to earn a living wage; how well we balance earning our wage, making time for relationships and pursuing recreational activities greatly impacts our perceived quality of life. The better the balance, the greater a person’s perceived quality of life.
Build your financial health.
Wealth is more than money. Money is a tool to keep a person in the lifestyle they desire. It is not an end in itself. So, maybe the ultimate goal when it comes to money is not being “rich.” Perhaps the goal is to live without exorbitant debt and with the ability to make emergency and “fun money” purchases without decimating your household budget.
Resources to assist people with little financial knowledge are widely available. Financial consultants and literature can guide you through managing and repairing your credit, making major purchase like a car and creating savings for retirement and vacations. Financial health supports peace of mind.
Act happy and be happy.
When things get difficult, the quickest way to happiness is to act happy. Smile when you greet people and when you say good-bye. Go about your day as you would if you were on a good mood. Your actions will coax your head and heart into a happier state.
Take a moment every day to note the things, people, circumstances and relationships for which you are grateful. Practicing gratitude allows you to acknowledge what is going well in your life and takes your focus off of the negative. Some people keep a daily gratitude list of five to ten things for which they are grateful. Other people keep an entire journal. A mental note, a list or a journal describing your sources of gratitude in detail–any of these approaches will serve–as long as they allow you to intentionally practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude fosters a sense of abundance. It creates the expectation of more positive experiences and outcomes. The expectation of positive experiences cultivates actions which create more abundance–more sources of gratitude and a better life.