Lists are typically a written reminder of all we have yet to accomplish. They serve us in the most basic and functional way, and often they lead to stress when we aren’t able to tick off each item.
However, to-do lists are only one type of list, and they aren’t ideal for improving your life. There is an entire world of list-making that can improve happiness, self-insight, balance, positivity, and joy. It’s a matter of posing the right questions to yourself to discover the answers that will help you thrive.
These life-improving lists consist of information you already know, so they aren’t challenging to generate, yet they can fundamentally change how you view the world, where you invest your energy, and what you choose to appreciate on a daily basis.
A good example of a list that can shape how you view the world comes from the prompt “list all the things you are really good at.” In answering this prompt honestly, you are reshaping your world in a truer form to how other people see you and interact with you. Often, we focus heavily on our deficits, and we assume others see only our faults. This creates a misperceived world outlook and can lead to issues in our relationships.
Other lists that can help you reflect on yourself and reshape your world include the following:
- List the greatest compliments you have ever been given
- List the ways you feel lucky
- List the things about yourself you don’t need to change
- List the times you felt you made a difference in someone’s life
- List the experiences that make you feel you are living life to the fullest
Taking time to answer these prompts serves as a type of mindfulness. You are bringing awareness to who you are and how you have contributed to this world. Not having many answers to these questions can be inspiring as well: you will strive to come up with more answers, which may require life changes.
It’s common to get stuck on making goals about weight loss and money, but these more explorative lists will help you make goals related to improving your life in a more basic way. Consider how you are investing your time and energy now. Do these things make you happy?
Lists that can help you prioritize how to invest your time and energy include the following:
- List your values and beliefs
- List the people you want to spend more time with
- List the things you are curious about
- List the projects you would like to accomplish
- List the ways you enjoy investing in your mind, body, and soul
There is a level of acknowledgment that comes with listing and organizing your life in this way. It helps you see where you are and where you want to go. It helps you identify the true deficits in your life, which are neglected areas that would make you happy if you invested more in them.
Here are a few more prompts to help guide you in improving your life:
- List everything you feel passionate about
- List the happiest people you know
- List the things you want to say no to
- List the things, people, and experiences you want to say yes to
- List the ways you have invested in your happiness
The more you sit with these lists, year after year, the more you will shape your life toward what makes you happy. Reassessing annually is a great way to see how you’ve improved your life.