Time can fly by with days turning into weeks and weeks turning into months. At the end of each month I find myself in awe of how quickly that month flew by, despite each day feeling long and often very busy. While I look back and realize that so much has happened in the last 30 days, it reminds me that making the days count is what is most important. When we ask ourselves important questions and spend time reflecting on the answers, we hold ourselves accountable and most importantly we live more fulfilling lives.
By asking yourself these five important questions at the end of every day, you will feel more grounded and anchored in each day without wishing it away and hoping the next will be somehow better or easier. When we get into too much of a routine, we can start to feel stuck or stagnant and fall into unproductive or unhealthy habits. By making yourself accountable each day, you will get more out of your 24 hours, and as those compound over the weeks, months, and years, you will get more out of your life as a whole.
This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process… ask yourself the questions when you are brushing your teeth before bed or as you are winding down in the evening. If you would like, journaling your thoughts and answers to these questions can be a great way to reflect back on your life in the future, whether it be next week, next year, or sometime far off in the future.
These are the five questions to ask yourself at the end of each day to keep yourself on track and live a more fulfilled life:
1. What am I grateful for?
This is a really important question because the daily practice of expressing gratitude is tied to higher levels of happiness and fulfillment. This is something I urge my clients to do regularly. It is fine to pick the obvious things like your family, friends, career, and home, but it is also important to dig a little deeper and think about the little things that add up. For example, if you are grateful for your home, why are you grateful for it? Are there specific qualities or details you are most grateful for, such as the serenity it offers you, the light that flows through and brightens up the spaces, the proximity to friends and family? Once you dig deep and try to come up with new answers each day, you will be amazed at how your perspective changes over the coming weeks.
2. In what ways did I make a positive impact on someone else today?
When we help others, we help ourselves. We are designed, wired, and built to connect. We even have billions of mirror neurons in our brains that cause mirror reactions. For example, we’ve all had the experience where someone we are talking to yawns and it makes us yawn. If you smile at a stranger on the street and they don’t smile back at you, it is likely that it was intentional because of the fact that humans are naturally wired to connect with one another.
When we help others, we are fulfilling our deep-rooted need for connection as human beings. There are many ways to contribute to others, for example, give a friend a quick call and ask them how they’re doing or buy the person behind you in line their morning coffee. Take the time to tell a loved one that you love them or share with a fellow co-worker how you enjoy working with them or how they make your job a little easier.
3. Did I listen to understand today and who did I listen to?
We all talk, but do you listen? It is easy to stay inside your own head and only give the person you are talking to scant attention because you are thinking about what you are going to say in response or because your mind wanders off onto a whole new subject. Talking to someone is not the same as listening and connecting with them. We learn a lot more about others (and ourselves) when we listen intently, become curious about what that person is saying, and comprehend their words in order to see, even just for a second, life from their perspective.
4. What did I learn today?
Making it a point to learn something new every day adds a zest to life. If you have kids in your life, engage with them and ask them what they learned or ask them to tell you one thing they think you do not know. This is a great opportunity to forge ongoing connections. Usually in the beginning of a relationship, we spend a lot of time trying to get to know the other person. After a time, it can be easy to just assume a lot of things about them or what they are thinking. Have you ever been shocked by a decision that someone you know well made because in your mind it is “not like them”? People are constantly changing and evolving and are most often much deeper and more complex than we may think…. Asking someone how they feel about a topic shows you are interested in their perspective and the answers may surprise you.
5. What could I have done differently today?
This allows you to keep tabs on yourself and keep you in alignment with the person you are and want to be. For example, maybe you had a difficult conversation with someone… By asking yourself this question, you may gain insights about how to have a better outcome next time or after learning their viewpoint, you may see other possibilities. The truth is, you might never know until you ask.
By taking a few minutes each day to reflect on these questions, you are less likely to have regrets and are more likely to see a boost in your happiness and to feel more confident and authentic as the days fly by.