Quality of Life: 10 tips for living a happier and healthier life

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Quality of LifeIt is March, so if you are like me, all of your New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned. Because I’m trying to figure out how to get back on track, I thought that you, too, might appreciate some “life improvement tips” that are relatively quick and painless. Here are my top 10 tips for living a better life.

1. Pay attention. One year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I just spent 12 months living with the theme: pay attention. It was an eye opener to realize how much I had missed in life on a regular basis just through my own self-absorption. Stay in the moment. Pay attention to those around you — engage with them. Your life will be greatly enriched.

2. Never give up. Nothing brings home this lesson better than a weekend of March Madness on television. Watch the teams that never give up. Win or lose — those players experience success because of their sheer effort and determination. No matter how daunting the task, give it your all, and even if you don’t succeed in the traditional sense, I guarantee that you will learn something, and knowledge is, in itself, a victory.

3. Be flexible. Go with the flow. Does this mean you don’t need goals? Not at all. But you don’t have to adhere rigidly to one plan for meeting those goals. Circumstances change. Your original plan may not turn out to be the best plan. If you let go of your initial agenda, you can take advantage of new opportunities that could help you to reach your goal more easily than Plan A would have allowed.

4. You are who you are; You are not what you do. You don’t just have a job, you have a profession — and that carries with it a sense of “calling” and responsibility. Such a calling can give your life meaning — but don’t lose sight of the person you were prior to attending law school. Stay grounded by checking in with yourself by pursuing interests that you had before your life was consumed by “things legal.”

5. Know when to let go. As an attorney, you are often called upon to control or guide situations. You have knowledge that can lead people through complex problems. It’s prudent to remember that the “take charge” tendencies that serve you well professionally, may not always lead to positive outcomes in your personal life. If you have control issues, try to analyze why. Choose one thing you could let unfold without any control on your part. Examine how the lack of control makes you feel. Sometimes we try to control situations because we ourselves feel out of control. Even though we want what is best for those in our lives, sometimes we have to let them lead their own lives and make their own mistakes. It helps them to learn and frees us up to spend time on ourselves.

6. Find balance. I am a workaholic. When I’m not in the office, I’m on the phone or email for work. I don’t have a life. I have been this way forever. My mom used to tell me (in a paraphrase of the old saying), “All work and no play makes Jonna a dull girl.” Not only that, it can make you sick. Take a vacation. Go to a movie. Play golf. Go camping. Do something that takes you completely out of the realm of work. You will thank yourself later.

7. Write your life story. If you feel you need a new direction in life, but have no idea what that direction should be, take an hour and write your life story. That is, write what you want to have accomplished in life. How do you want to be remembered? If your reality doesn’t match what you have written, now is the time to make changes. To quote John Mellencamp, “Your life is now.” Live it the way you want.

8. Don’t hold yourself hostage. So often, we hold ourselves back from being our best or living our happiest, most meaningful lives. We carry beliefs from childhood that limit us and keep us from exploring options that could make our lives more fulfilling. If you feel imprisoned by your own life, keep in mind that most likely you hold the key to your own cell. You can liberate yourself from limiting beliefs. Engage the services of a counselor, spiritual advisor or life coach and start living the life you deserve.

9. Annual assessment. What do you want your life to be like one year from now? What do you want to accomplish? A year is going to pass either way. You can either spend another year the same way, or you can rewrite your life script for a new and fulfilling adventure. The choice is yours.

10. Appreciate what you have. Sometimes the key to happiness is merely recognizing the great things that are already happening in your life. Stop wishing that you were younger, older, richer or more attractive. You are great just the way you are. An attitude of appreciation can add positive momentum to your life journey.•


Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.