A big part of the American Dream is to achieve a certain ‘quality of life,’ yet many of us spend a great deal of time and expend a large amount of energy pursuing the dream without contemplating exactly what we are chasing and how we’ll know when we’ve caught it.

Irrespective of the enormous amount of self-help books, wellness centers, Dr. Phils, and Tony Robbins out there promising to offer you: ____________ (fill in the blank: balance, fulfillment, optimal health, 10 easy ways to grow your business or 7 easier ways to reduce your waistline), it all comes down to one simple question: What do you want?

What is the quality of life that will bring you fulfillment and satisfaction?  What does it look like? What will you feel like when the various areas of your life are infused with quality, such as:

  • Career
  • Home life
  • Relationships (friends, family, romance)
  • Creative expression
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Spiritual connection
  • Freedom of choice
  • Purpose and contribution
  • Balance between security and adventure

As a noun ‘quality’ means any feature, characteristic, element, or basic nature that makes something what it is.  As an adjective ‘quality’ defines the degree of goodness, amount of satisfaction, and ability to transcend the status quo.  What are the essential qualities (n) that make you who you are?  And, how does honoring those qualities (n) contribute to a quality (adj) life?

In today’s world it is common to associate our quality of life with our level of happiness which is often associated with the attainment of goods and goals, but that wasn’t always the case. Back in the days of the great philosophers, they strove to achieve ‘eudaimonia,’ a positive and divine state of being which provides one with a sense of flourishing and gratitude.  Translated as being of ‘good’ (eu) ‘spirit’ (daimon), eudaimonia refers to living a life of virtue where pleasure comes from personal integrity, philosophical engagement, and community participation.  For Plato and Aristotle, living an ethical life and exercising reason for the greater good brings an inner-harmony that raises us above the purely instinctual life of other animals. Although they recognized the importance health, wealth, and power, they believed that the first steps toward good spirit and well-being was an individual’s commitment to personal development, pursuing one’s purpose, and the ability to respond to external factors with reason and virtue.

Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard professor, child& family psychologist, and author of the The Parents We Mean To Be (2009), fears that in our desire to raise children who ambitiously pursue happiness and success, we are sacrificing their sense of self and moral responsibility to others, thus reducing society’s collective quality of life which he contends relies on:

  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Loyalty
  • Generosity
  • Commitment to justice
  • Capacity to think through moral dilemmas
  • Ability to sacrifice for important principles

Weissbourd feels that the way to raise the quality of our lives, and the lives of our children and community, is to increase our capacity for appreciation–to know and value ourselves and others. “Appreciation breaks destructive impulses….and inspires caring, responsibility, and generosity.”

I’m not sure what qualities define your quality of life, as it will be unique to you and might change over time, but caring, responsibility, generosity, integrity, virtue, appreciation, and a sense of flourishing, purpose, and good spirit might not be a bad place from which to start your inquiry and define your dream.  (Please see below for some additional questions to prompt your reflection.)

With much passion,


* What are your favorite qualities about yourself?

* What qualities would you like to enhance? Which would you like to retire?

* What elements contribute to a quality day? (What about a quality night’s sleep?)

* What elements are needed for a quality relationship?

* Where in your life are you settling for less than you deserve? How can you change that?

Past installments of The Coach’s Alphabet include: Accountability, Balance, Choice, Discovery, Energy,  Fun, Grace, Humor, Integrity, Joy, Knowing, LoveMeaning, Nourish, Opportunity & Passion. Click on the value that captures your attention or go to: http://theCoach4you.wordpress.com

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