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8 Questions to Measure the Health of Your Life

Is it time to step back and look at the larger landscape of your life?

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You get a regular physical check-up, you go to the dentist—to catch and fix potential problems early. But how about a life check-up? Taking the pulse of your everyday life?

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you do exactly that:

1. How’s your overall mood and happiness? Yes, life goes up and down. A rough day at work combined with a sudden crisis—a sick child, an argument with your partner—can make these rough days rougher. But overall, everyday life, how are you doing? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate an average day?

If it is below a 5 or 6, is there something that would decidedly make your everyday better? What would it take to bump it up to an 8 or 9?

2. How would you feel about eternal recurrence? This is essentially the same question in a different form. In his book The Gay Science, the philosopher Nietzsche discusses eternal recurrence and essentially poses this question: If you had to live today over again (minus that flat tire or that argument or your sick child), would you choose to do so?

The underlying notions here are two: that you want to live each day with few regrets and make it the best you can so that you would be willing to live it again; and, because Nietzsche was big on the will and individual power, that you actually can and should do this. You are the creator of your life. This is about being proactive, rather than reactive, about shaping your destiny, rather than taking what you get or going through your days on autopilot.

So, pick an average day: Would you be willing to live this day again? And if not, why not? What is missing? What do you need to do to be more proactive?

3. Are there ongoing problems that bleed into your life that you can’t shake? Oftentimes chronic problems—physical or psychological pain, unresolved issues—can leave you overwhelmed or drag on you like an undertow. It’s easy to feel trapped, like whatever you do won’t matter, recipes for depression and anxiety. But the antidote is action, moving forward in some way, sometimes anyway, in spite of, in order to feel more in charge.

Is there something you need to do that you are not doing to put these problems to rest?

4. Do you have an intimate relationship with someone? This doesn’t have to be a lover; it doesn’t have to involve sex, though it may. What’s important is having a relationship with someone—a partner, a friend—whom you feel safe with, whom you feel knows you, whom you can have those deeper conversations with. As the research shows, isolation and loneliness are killers on many levels. We all need to be connected in some way.

Is there something you need to do to deepen your relationships, create more intimate connections?

5. Are your intimate relationships balanced? While safety is important in any close relationship, so too is balance. Relationships that are out of balance eventually collapse or blow apart. If you feel that you are always doing the heavy lifting, that you are not getting enough appreciation, resentment builds, or you burn out. Or, on the other side, if you feel that others are running your life, that you have no voice or control, that you are always walking on eggshells or feel trapped, you become estranged from your life and depressed.

Are your intimate relationships balanced? If not, why not? Is there something you need to do to rebalance them?

6. Do you feel fulfilled at work? Work takes on many faces. For some, work is merely a job, what they do to make money so they can do other more important things in their lives. For others, work means a career, part of their identity, a path lined with goals. For still others, their work is a calling, a life purpose.

Is what you are doing for work working? Do you get enough satisfaction from what you do? If not, what needs to be changed or tweaked to make your everyday work life better?

7. Do you have future goals that give you passion, that give you something to look forward to, to work for? When you look ahead 3, 5, 10, 20 years from now, what do you envision? For many of us, this is a tough question, because everyday life is a matter of running on autopilot. You do what you do because you do it, a putting of one foot in front of another.

But it’s important to slow down, to take a deep breath, to imagine your future. To be able to look ahead, to set goals, however big or small, to envision who you want to be and do is about creating purpose, having passions, and being in charge of your life, all antidotes to feeling trapped, bored, rudderless.

What dreams of the future do you need to believe in and want to cultivate?

8. What’s on your bucket list? This takes future goals one step further: What regrets do you most want to avoid? What do you most need to do and experience to say that this life, my life, has been a worthwhile and good life?

This question, all the others, and maybe more that come to mind are about stepping back and surveying the larger landscape of your life. Ask the questions; listen to the answers. Don’t just do what you do because you do it.

Unlike every other creature on the planet, you have choices. Even if you feel you don’t have control, you do. Even if you feel your choices are limited, there are still choices, even if they seem difficult.

Step back. Survey the larger landscape. Decide how your life is going.

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