How is your life going over all?
If I asked you that in person, you’d probably give me a standard, “Fine,” answer, you wouldn’t likely self-evaluate, and certainly wouldn’t do anything to make your life better. It would be an entirely pointless interaction.
Well fortunately, we’re not talking in person. I’m some dude on the internet, and I’m not interested in your pleasantries. You don’t have to worry about starting to cry in public when you think about everything going wrong in life, and making me and the waitress at this Applebee’s feel super awkward, so don’t worry about that.
So instead of the canned answer, look within, and really ask yourself: How is your life going over all?
It’s a tough question, right? Your life is so massive, and complex, and all-encompassing. You have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day, thousands of those thoughts contradict each other, the vast majority get buried deep in your subconscious, and they bring up a massive variety of emotions, and you don’t know how to wrap all of that up into any kind of coherent, or accurate answer.
We’re so close to our own lives, that when we try to evaluate them, all we can see is this massive ball of atoms running into each other, and it’s really hard to make sense of it all.
The result of this is that we’re really bad at evaluating our lives, which means two things: 1) We’re not conscious or grateful of the amazing things in our lives, and 2) We’re really bad at fixing all of the stupid, awful parts of our lives.
So here’s my very simple, but effective idea: We take time every single day, and consciously evaluate our lives in 4 key areas:
And in each of these areas, we ask ourselves two important questions:
- What are the awesome parts of this that I should I be grateful for?
- What are the sucky parts, and how do I change them?
How do we self-evaluate in each category? Let’s dig in:
Nobody–not even people who read sites like this–check in on themselves and how they’re doing mentally enough.
This goes beyond just happiness, although that’s a part of it. It’s about checking in on how your feelings are impacting your decisions, your ability to think coherently, and how often you go to Taco Bell. It’s about checking in on your total brain functioning.
You can’t fix your brain if you’re not aware of what’s broken in it, and so we don’t. Instead, we usually just get frustrated by the broken parts, and yell at them which is, you know, ineffective.
So instead of doing that, take a few minutes every day. Look into your soul for a bit. Practice gratitude for the strengths in your current mental state, fully become aware of the times when you’ve felt like crap recently, and ask yourself what you can do to make them feel better.
But spoiler alert: the answer may be in making improvements in the other three categories.
The good news is that checking in on your physical state is a lot more cut and dry than your psychological state.
The bad news is that, like, ugh. The solution to make things better often involves moving and not eating mozzarella sticks, and that sucks.
Fortunately, that’s not the only part of checking in on your physical state. It’s also about noticing when you feel good physically, and practicing daily gratitude for that. If you feel good physically every day, and you’re not feeling any gratitude or joy as a result, what a waste that is. You’re just throwing joy down the toilet, and that’s awfully stupid of you.
Of course, this is also about checking in on our negative physical feelings–whether it’s hating our bodies, or feeling lethargic, or that feeling we feel after eating a big bowl of pasta–and asking ourselves what the root cause is of all of the, and what we can do about it.
Your interpersonal check-in is also pretty cut and dry. How are things with your spouse? Your long distance college friend? Your mom?
Do you two have a real relationship? Or is every conversation surface level and pointless, and about the neighbor’s dog eating her azaleas?
Take time every day, and think about the status of your relationships, or maybe your lack of relationships.
Think about the best relationships you have, and what makes them so great. Take time to recognize how amazing they are, and how lucky you are to have them.
Then look into what you can do to improve your weaker relationships. Self-evaluate. How can you reach out? How can you put yourself out there more? How can you get your mom to talk about, oh, literally anything else?
You might already have a rough idea of how you feel about your job. However, you might not be thinking about the specific pluses and minuses associated with your job, and what to do about them.
If you do like your job, or even like parts of your job, that’s awesome! For many it’s 40 hours a week of pure hell, so take some time, and practice yourself some gratitude for having a boss that you can stand, or to be doing something for money that doesn’t make you hate yourself!
If you don’t like parts of your job, then it’s time to brainstorm. What can you do differently? How can you move to another company, or increase your productivity rate so that you can relax a little more while at work, or manage being around your awful coworker who smells like feet? (My suggestion: a pine scented air freshener can be easily hidden in any desk.)
Take time every day and think about these key four areas. Self-evaluate. Live consciously. Examine what you know is there, and figure out what the hell you’re going to do about that big ball of atoms.
Will Penney is a reality TV producer by day, and comedic self-help writer also by day (he likes to get his 8 hours at night.). His site: BeBetterStupid.com is constantly growing, and making lives across the world less stupid every day.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.