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4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Create a Truly Rich and Meaningful Life

Happy Man with Arms Raised

“Don’t miss all the beautiful colors of the rainbow looking for that pot of gold.” ~Unknown

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Stumbling through life without a clear sense of direction. Wondering day after day if it’s ever going to get better.

After all, perpetual joy and a meaningful life are only for the rich and famous. The idea of fulfilment seems so far-fetched given the mundaneness of an ordinary day.

But you know that anything is possible, right?

Could it be that with a little thought, the day will come when you’ll enjoy the colors of the rainbow, regardless of whether you’ve reached your pot of gold or not?

In Search of Material Riches

I come from an underprivileged background. Growing up, the only thing I could think of that would make me happy was to be rich. While I frequently heard the saying, “Money doesn’t make you happy,” I dismissed its true message because I believed I needed stuff to live comfortably.

So I spent most of my life chasing this fantasy, never actually getting to a point of contentment. In my adulthood, I was no longer destitute, but I was still after that illusion.

Then, a few years ago I had a classic case of burnout and exhaustion. I didn’t know where I was going any longer, life tasted bland, and the future seemed pointless. All I could do was think about the woman I knew I was deep down, the woman full of hopes and aspirations to make a difference.

I was desperate to change my situation.

So the quest truly began. To repair my broken self, I indulged in self-help books, visited the professionals, and overlaid positive mantras in my brain in the hopes of waking up one morning as a new person.

But a gaping black hole was still in my soul, waiting to be filled with something more meaningful.

Getting Struck by Lightning

After months of searching for the Holy Grail, someone planted an idea in me: “There’s no ‘light-bulb moment.’ The answers are already in front of you, if you choose to see them.”

I was skeptical at first upon hearing this. “You mean I won’t be hit by this electrifying lightning bolt, changing my life forever?”

On reflection, this was the enlightening idea that allowed me to move forward.

I realized that all along I was looking in the wrong direction. I never really stopped to think about what was important to me and how I could use these insights to live a more fulfilling life where every day mattered.

The truth is, we spend so much time following false riches and focusing on hollow goals that we often lose touch with what is right in front of us.

However, there is a way to edge closer to your truth: to live a truly rich and meaningful life, you need to unearth your deepest values and desires.

And to do that, I discovered that by asking the right questions, you can see through the mist casting shadows on your thinking and clarity.

Questions are effective because they jolt your brain into a different level of reflection, digging to the root of your values (unlike wondering why you’re blocked, which only confirms you are indeed in a lost place).

So, with the help of the following four questions, I began to uncover the hidden treasures that I neglected for so long in all areas of my life.

I invite you to ask yourself these questions too, and note the immediate answers that surface.

 1. What kind of qualities does your superhero self have when relating to others?

Imagine your internal fears magically disappear; how would you behave differently with others?

This question clarifies the sorts of relationships you want to be forming with others. It’s not about how you’d like to be treated, but rather the way your ideal self would behave when connecting with others.

Also think about what your superhero does when pushed to the limit. Does he or she stand by and let others dominate, or have the courage to say, “No, I’m not having this”?

When I asked myself this question, integrity, self-respect, and honesty featured on top of my list of important qualities to have. Since then, I’ve successfully confronted people when I’ve found their behavior unacceptable toward me instead of keeping my sorrows inside.

Remember, often you can’t run away from people you don’t like, but you can choose to respond to them differently, either by interpreting situations in an empowering way internally or by saying your peace out loud.

2. What type of activities could you channel your energies toward that would satisfy you deep down?

Imagine you’re receiving an award for your life’s work. How would they describe your achievements when you’re called to make your acceptance speech?

This exercise is not meant to find your passion or your calling. It’s designed to shed light on the values that are dear to you, and it can be used in any workplace to inject enthusiasm into whatever you do.

When I connected with my deeper values of being helpful, considerate, and compassionate, it was a game changer. I used these rediscovered qualities to give my full attention to those who needed it instead of focusing on trying to fit in a work environment that didn’t suit my personality.

You may not be doing what you’d ideally like to right now, but you can turn even a stop gap activity into a source of valuable life enhancing experience.

3. What do you spend too much time worrying about?

Imagine you’re looking back on your life as an elderly person. What advice would your older self give to your younger self?

None of us like to imagine ourselves as a bitter eighty-year-old full of regret. Every time I ask this question to myself, worries suddenly reorder themselves, and solutions appear instead of endless anxiety.

This question particularly clarified for me that I needed to focus on being more open, trusting, and mindful. I’ve become more open to experiences I was afraid of before and more trusting of myself, the future, and others. I also purposefully slowed down and become mindful of the world around me, seeing the beauty in the everyday things I would have walked past before.

Life’s daily trials can seem so insurmountable at times; petty incidents seem enough to want to tear your hair out. But do they really matter in the grand scheme of things? Will it matter even a few months on if someone talked to you the wrong way?

4. What do you not do enough of?

Imagine you have all the time in the world. What would your quiet times look like?

When it comes to winding down, do you give yourself the opportunity to fully restore your energy? Or do you habitually squeeze an extra three to four hours of each day just to keep up with life’s demands?

Chasing material things and endlessly going after bold goals can spell trouble ahead. Forgetting to pamper yourself now and then not only lets your health down, but also negatively affects your relationships.

My new priorities that emerged were creativity, family, and health. I used to long for the day when I’d retire and could immerse myself in painting and drawing. But I discovered how I can add creative imagination to daily life when working on my planner or cooking a meal for instance.

If this all sounds too alien, or wrong, maybe you have to start by accepting that you and your sanity matter as much as the next person’s. If you really care about living a meaningful life, doing more of what makes you happy will be just the magic pill you need.

Living by Your Highest Standards

You know life is only worth living if it’s meaningful.

Waking up each morning with excitement does not have to be at the bottom of your priorities.

Clarifying your deepest values and desires will help you make decisions (small or large) and see alternative options.

You’ll have the power to take a stand when others are crossing your boundaries or asking for too much.

You’ll realize you don’t need money to fulfill your dreams; you can travel on a budget, help your parents without spending a dime, and do work you enjoy rather than work that merely pays well.

Finally, once you shift the focus and give yourself permission to live by your values, it’ll be such a motivating element that you’ll never again ask, “What’s the point of it all?”

Happy man with arms raised image via Shutterstock

About Andrea Still

Andrea is a recent environmental graduate, and she's equally fascinated by human nature and their mutual interconnection. She's enthralled by personal development and is the voice behind the popular Instagram page @the_warrior_spirit. If you're finding life frantic, she's written a guide on Peace of Mind which you may find helpful.

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  • Ann Njeri Davis

    Great post. I like #3-” what do you spend too much time worrying about ?” I should be grateful for what I have, instead of ” wanting” to have.

  • Mark Tong

    Hi Andrea – such a true post. I realized some time ago that the happiest time of my life is right now. I’m in the middle of building a business but when it’s successful, I’ll be no happier than I am right at this moment – just a lot more tired I imagine!

  • Peace Within

    Good luck with the business! =)

  • Peace Within

    These are cool ways to self-reflect. Thanks! =)

  • Hi Andrea. Thank you for this poignant article. As I read No. 1 about superhero self qualities, I was reminded that one of our super powers as quiet spirits is deep, generous listening. Listening to our own inner voice is empowering and listening to others is a healing gift. I look forward to reading more of your work. 🙂

  • Your question about worrying hits home. It’s ironic that when we connect with our loved ones, dominant conversation topics are often about what could be categorized as worrisome and/or stressful. If only more conversations were about what we’re grateful for. Life is amazing.

  • andreastill

    Thanks for your insightful comment Mark! Very important to cherish the journey as well as looking forward to reaping the rewards of your labour. =)

  • andreastill

    Thank you for reading it Peace Within!

  • Andrew

    Thank you for this article!

  • andreastill

    Hi Ann, yes I often reflect on this as I see a lot of less well off people around me – in health and definitely not in wealth! You can aspire to have stuff, but in the meantime it’s important to realize ‘why’ you want those things – is it because it’s adding to your quality of life or as a way to keep up with trends/societal norms? I think it’s mostly the latter, and one very hard to escape from… I’m still working on this.
    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • andreastill

    Welcome 🙂

  • Nicki Lee

    Love this post! I’m a socially-awkward introvert. I like the idea of imaging how my “superhero self” would connect with others in social situations. Maybe practicing that technique before attending a function would help remove some of the anxiety associated with it.

  • andreastill

    Thank you Linda for your kind words :). Indeed, I only recently accepted my ‘quiet’ side and started seeing it as a gift (rather than being shameful about it). I never knew this was one of my strengths until a fellow introvert pointed it out to me. And what a revelation – I could never go back to wanting to be different.

  • Rich

    Great post!

  • andreastill

    Aw Nicki! If that’s any help I was painfully shy most of my life – it’s only in the past few years when I finally ‘got it’ – seeking approval of others, and if I couldn’t get it, I’d withdraw into my shell. I’m at a point now that I dare to openly disagree with people and even give ’em a mouthful if I find their behavior intolerable. So far it generated more respect for me, and to my biggest surprize they always apologized afterwards. My superhero self is finally emerging, and I’m sure yours will too! Hang in there =)

  • Hi Andrea, it’s so true. I can remember being 15 and wondering if this was all there was, as the song says. And pushed the thought to the side because it seemed an unanswerable question to me. Once I began to make personal/spiritual development a priority my life took on a whole new and more contented meaning.

    I really enjoyed this post and definitely want to read more of what you have to say. 🙂

  • Angela Anderson

    Great post! I especially love the superhero question. I’m going to stick it in front of my computer to remind me everyday. And I’m going to share it with my kids, whom I hope will never get as far away from their inner superhero as I have. 🙂

  • I’m still here

    Her name is Still?

  • Hi Andrea – I can relate to many of your points here. I also suffered burnout and exhaustion and had to actively redefine my life and my priorities in order to dig out of that hole. #4 – What do you not do enough of? – is such a great question to ask. You’re absolutely right; how can we expect to inject meaning into our lives if we’re don’t prioritize our own well-being? Sanity DOES matter! That’s why I left the corporate world and am not looking back 🙂

  • andreastill

    Nice to see you here Elle :). Indeed, life can be so fuzzy at that age especially when some choices are made for you by others. I was very confused as a youngster, and it took a while to unlearn the bad habits (mindsets) I picked up back then. I’m glad you found the answers and the contentment you were looking for. =)

  • qeurich

    Good, thoughtful questions Andrea!

    Ones that are surprising in ways that make you think differently!

    #1’s my favorite!

  • Great post Andrea, lovely writing. We so often look outside of ourselves – to possessions, to wealth, to our jobs, even our relationships – to create meaning and happiness, when in fact, the only thing we have a choice about is out own behaviour and our own view of the world. Thanks for sharing some of your story. x

  • Nicely done, Andrea.

    One of my favorite lessons from the last year comes from Steven Pressfield in his seminal book, “The War of Art.”

    Now, I don’t believe inspiration comes out of the blue. Rather, when we develop a daily practice, put in our time & hone our craft…the inspiration tends to show up.

    Also, “passion” tends to come from a feeling at progressing at a new venture, project or skill set.

    Basically, get to work first (try stuff) and the inspiration & passion tend to follow suit.

    Nice.

  • Helen McCarthy

    Still by name still by nature – “a quiet spirit”. Andrea, I think you are where you are meant to be. Lovely piece – very thought provoking.

  • andreastill

    Hi Helen, that’s me allright! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • andreastill

    Hi Mike, that book is on my wish list for reading. But you’re right – I’ve found when I immerse myself with inspirational ideas (no matter where they come from), my mind is also awash with thoughts and ideas. I’m working on capturing them all at the moment… Thanks for reading

  • andreastill

    Great thought Angela, I might do the same. You’re already a superhero – just ask your kids 😉

  • andreastill

    Thanks Quinn, I didn’t realize the value of asking the right kind of questions for so long, and they certainly make you think ‘what if’?

  • andreastill

    Hi Scott, it is amazing how we have to experience bournout before contemplating major changes in our life… Good for you for leaving all that behind and good luck with your new adventures 🙂

  • andreastill

    Wise words Ellen, a (seemingly) tiny change in your outlook can mean a huge difference to your happiness on the long run. Thanks for reading x

  • Thank you for sharing this Andrea. I love the questions! Really helps us to focus on what matters most.

  • Ilka Emig

    Hi Andrea!

    This is a great journey, and I am very glad that you are in the happy now & here. Thank you for sharing this with us. We all need to live and focus more on the now & here 🙂

  • Hi Andrea, #4 particularly resonates for me. It’s easy for me to answer the question. Less easy for me to answer the obvious follow up question, which is “Why not?”! But would be worthwhile to do. Nice job!

  • andreastill

    I know what you’re saying Lynn – when life gets in the way it can be a challenge to do the ‘right thing’ for yourself, even if you know you should… Thanks for reading

  • andreastill

    Thanks Cylon 🙂

  • andreastill

    Hi Ilka, yes it took a while to get here – and the journey is far from complete. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Hi Andrea. 🙂

    Knowing core values is the foundation of creating an amazing life.

    Thanks for your work. Good advice. 🙂

  • Angela Anderson

    Probably depends on what day you ask them. 🙂

  • Mahesh Sahu

    Nice article, Andrea. Thanks for sharing and reminding the importance of “meaningfulness in life”.

  • andreastill

    Hi Ankit – that’s really well summed up! All the best to you 🙂

  • andreastill

    My pleasure Mahesh 🙂

  • Melissa Contreras

    I loved your article Andrea. It was such a coincidence to read it. I am reading through the Warrior Goddess Training and it talks about calling in your Super-Self so #1 was a brilliant take on that. We can use our own Super Power in the way we handle our relationships with others to make them better! 🙂

  • Ashley Trexler

    “None of us like to imagine ourselves as a bitter eighty-year-old full of regret…” is my worst nightmare! Thanks for the inspiring article, and tips to live in the now.

  • Kim

    I totally resonate with the idea that there isn’t a “struck by lightening” moment and that answers are in front of you all of the time. Nice post!

  • Rachel

    This is an incredibly helpful post for me at the moment. I’m trying to juggle a demanding full time job, two small kids, fitting in exercise and keeping in top of the chores. I wake at 5.30, go to bed at 10pm and do not stop at any point in between and despite knowing I’m heading for a breakdown I just can’t seem to stop rushing about. Living like this WILL end up with me being a bitter, resentful old lady because of all the things I wanted to do with my life and didn’t. Something needs to change.