I was moaning to a friend recently about how tired I had been feeling. “What normally gives you energy?” he asked. I thought about it. For me it is road cycling, morning swims at the beach, and being around people who have good energy – all of those things I had not been doing much of.

And, of course, my friend was right. As soon as I started doing what was quality for me, my energy returned.

Apparently, I am not alone. When we allow our work and the busyness of life to dominate and we continually defer what brings us happiness, there is a cost.

We become tired or we feel flat. We become more impatient with others. Or our health suffers. For some of us, it is all the above.

Often, we find ways of rationalising such behaviour. We think that when we get on top of our work, then we will find time for those things we enjoy. Or we think we just have to make it through until our next holiday (or our retirement).

If we are not careful, we can let our feelings dominate our choices. We might think that when we have the energy that is when we will take action to do more of what we enjoy. It works the other way around. Some medical conditions aside, it is what we do and think that has an impact on our emotions. If we want to feel better, we need to think and act helpfully.

Psychiatrist, William Glasser, says that we all have our own pictures of what makes a quality life. He says that to live a happy life, we have to be acting and thinking in ways that take us in this direction. And, of course, we need to realise it is not all about us. We also have to consider others.

Glasser encourages us to reflect on the choices we are making through questions such as …

What is quality living for me?
Is what I am doing and thinking taking me in this direction?
Are my choices considerate of the needs of others?
That is the challenge for all of us – making choices that are considerate of others and taking us in the direction of a quality life.

Yes, there are times we need to sacrifice our needs or put the needs of others or the workplace first. But, we can only do this for so long. And we have to get the balance right.

Even in the middle of significant adversity, expanding what is quality in our life can help us to cope with the challenges. Although the pain of a significant loss may not ever go away, we can at least expand our life to ensure the pain is not dominant and we can still live, love and laugh. The quality in our living helps us to live with the pain.

Remember that although financial security does give us more choice, it is not material possessions that bring happiness – unless it is a new sports car, of course.

It is often the simple things – exercise, connecting with nature, practising gratefulness, eating well, good relationships – that is quality for most of us.

We have a nice tradition in my family that when I am putting my boys to bed I ask them what were the 3 highlights of their day. They often say spending time with friends, a lovely dinner made by their mum, or perhaps joking around with me.

Sometimes, they say, “Right now.”

It is a lovely time of connection, of course. But I am also trying to teach them that they need to train themselves to focus on the positives, to notice what is quality for them, and to make more of those choices.

What will you do to increase the quality in your life?

Quote of the week

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

– Voltaire