What If This One Question Can Always Make You Feel Better?

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It’s funny how the things we avoid the most — like moving our bodies, eating whole foods and finally doing our taxes — can help us the most.

We tend to think of work as a burden and vacations as a reward. Our chores and to-do lists are to be tackled as quickly as possible, making way for precious free time.

What we don’t realise is that having endless time to kill might not actually feel as good as we think it will. Having people to care for and tasks to complete can make us feel useful.

Here’s a question you can ask yourself at any time that is almost certain to make you feel good once you act on it:

How can I be useful?

The answer to this could be anything from ‘I can clean the bathroom’ to ‘I can send a little present to someone who is going through a hard time’.

What you do matters less than the fact that action frees you from overthinking. Getting out of your head can be one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself and everyone around you.

When we try to be useful, we take the focus off worries about making the rent, doubts about a loved one’s health and the endless list of things we can’t control. Instead, we put our energy into the things we can control, and help our self-confidence grow in the process.

Asking yourself this question often, and taking any step to answer it, whether small or big, means that you can look back at the end of the day with a sense of satisfaction at the contribution you made.

To help you feel appreciative about where you are now, you can even ask yourself: how am I already being useful? Make a mental (or physical) list of the things you are doing which make a difference to someone (remember you are someone too!). Think broadly when you do this exercise — helpful activities include anything from taking a walk to saying hello to your local grocer.

Try it when you feel a little lost or down. Simply ask:

How can I be useful?

Let this question be your guide to a meaningful life, one small step at a time.

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