>In our last episode, I got completely completely tangled in my response to the test from the The Quality of Life Research Unit at the University of Toronto. I could tell that what they are doing doesn’t fit for me, but I didn’t know why. I suspected there were clues in the Serenity Prayer, but I was puzzled.
Things are clearer now.
Understanding My Frustration
A few investigations and experiences helped me understand where the University of Toronto’s tool/model doesn’t fit for me.
- Beyond my control. Armed with the Serenity Prayer, I went through the Quality of Life model and identified those things which I could change. They fell into the Psychological and Spiritual Being and Leisure and Growth becoming categories–those areas where I scored highest. For most other parts of the list, I have to have significant help from other people. For a few areas I have no control at all. Not coincidentally, those are the areas in which I scored lowest. I was frustrated because I felt chastised for things over which I had no control.
- Focused on the future. I like the University of Toronto’sdefinition of quality of life: the degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life. I am okay with Being: (who one is) and Belonging (connecting with one’s environment). They define Becoming as “achieving personal goals, hopes and aspirations.” With that definition, I will imagine the future, work toward it and evaluate whether I get what I want. As a person with a progressive incurable illness, I need to stay rooted in Now.
- Working from the outside. During the last week, I participated in a yoga class, where the teacher guided us to pay attention to our core (straight spine,supported belly, tightened Kegel muscles) before we began each posture. I participated in an adult Christian education class where we were reminded to start with our relationship to God and move from there into outward expressions of our faith. The two traditions agreed: start inward; move outward. I understand that scientists like to move the other direction, but I am practicing the art of living.
Proposing an Alternative
If I designed a tool to help me evaluate my quality of life, how would it look?
I like the University of Toronto’s definition and their major categories. I would use more open ended, opinion questions. Unlike the UT, I am not trying to create a standardized tool.
BEING (who one is)
Physical: What practices do I use in hygiene, exercise grooming and clothing? Are they contributing to my safety and health?
Psychological: What skills and processes do I use to adjust to change? Am I able to function cognitively to keep myself safe? How do I handle my unhelpful thoughts? How do I respond to the ups and downs of my emotions? How do I control my unhelpful impulses?
Spiritual: What do I value? What do I believe? How do I make decisions about what actions to take?
BELONGING (connections to the environment)
Physical: Do I feel at home where I live (home, work, school, community)? Is there a special place I love and visit?
Social: Who are the important people in my life? Do I feel supported, enjoyed, and/or loved by and loving toward the people around me?
Community: Who are the important groups of people in my life? Do I feel included and part of the whole in the important groups in my life?
BECOMING (what keeps one going and growing)
Practical: What do I consider my basic needs (physical, social, psychological, spiritual) and how do I meet them?
Leisure: What activities in my life promote relaxation and joy?
Growth: How do my values and beliefs nurture me? How do I maintain or improve my knowledge and skills and adapt to change?
Part of 12-step living is to take an inventory. This is my first draft, but it seems this Quality of Life
Inventory might be a good tool for me to use as I move forward in my life.
I’ll “take it” and see if I am left in a more resourceful place than I was last week.
>Are you working on another book?
>Not that I know of (grin)… I just labeled this "draft" because I'm thinking out loud, trying to figure things out.