The Quality of Life Quotient


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Feb 22,2017
The Quality of Life Quotient (copyright2017)
by Heidi D. Hansen, M.A.
The Back Story
I got the idea for this model of mental health some years ago during a time I went through a period of depression and neuralgic pain.
My inner lightbulb had gone out, and all’s I could do was lay in bed under the covers.  I had my radio on, listening to The Moth Radio Hour, and TED Talks, and really started noticing that my mind was becoming enriched with that learning, and that felt good.  I noticed that my feet felt the comfort of the new soft blanket despite the neuralgic pain.  And that my dog and cat, siting on my bed and windowsill,  were objects of beauty in and of themselves and noticing that gave me joy, even though the pain and sad continued.  I felt glad, even relief, that I could take in learning and beauty and feel such gratitude.  I was still alive and that feeling alive was good!
Was I cured of depression or anxiety? No.
Did the neuralgic pain go away? No.
But I felt such an abundance of life gifts that I closed my eyes and prayed a deep thanks to God for these joys and beauties and the learning and the ability to experience them despite the pain and sadness.  I asked God to help me use this to help others.
Because you see, it was not a cure for my illness that made me feel joy and glory of life in those moments.  I was not cured. Clinical symptoms persisted.  Rather, it was the quality of being aware of, and receiving, that which tethered me to what is inherently good  about living:  Experiencing learning and comfort and meaning.   I still have the pain and suffering, but I also have quality of life.
How can one have a good quality of life while experiencing debilitating symptoms of clinical mental illness?
By not focusing on curing the symptoms of the mental illness, but by focusing on enhancing three domains of daily living:  Security, Meaning, and Counterproductive Stress.
How we compute small measures across these three domain gives us our Quality of Life Quotient.
Using our QOLQ gives us a tool to measure and reflect and improve the cogwheels that allow our creative willingness to thrive despite mental illness.
In a nutshell, I am saying to those who suffer with mental illness:  You can have a life, too!
Ready to compute your Quality of Life Quotient?
________The Quality of Life Quotient:______________________________
First, rate what you feel right now about your quality of life using a scale of 1 to 4.
1 being a really terrible, awful, quality of life. The worst.
2 being this really sucks but  I’m still here.
3 being life is generally okay.  Could be better, but alright.
4 being really the best a person can hope for.
What is this number?  ________
Now, answer yes or no to the following — in the present time, and in a general sense:
Security Domain
— I have safe relationships.      yes     no
— I have safe housing.    yes    no
— I have enough healthy food available.   yes   no
— I have reliable heat and cooling.     yes   no
— I have healthy sleep and rest.   yes   no
— I get a healthy amount of exercise and motion.    yes   no
— I know I can pay my housing and basic utility bills for the next 6 months out.  yes   no
— I am free from physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse.    yes    no
— I am sexually healthy and safe.   yes    no
— I have a do-able plan to help myself in these areas.    yes no
How many items did I say “yes” to out of 10:  ________
Meaning Domain:
— I have work that provides for at least 50% of my security needs.   yes   no
— I do work for money that contributes to the better quality of life of others.   yes   no
— I do altruistic work with my time and skill and talent that betters the lives of others.   yes  no
— I have faith, a sense of trust that there is a bigger meaning to my life and that things will work out.  yes   no
— I have friends that are good listeners .   yes  no
— I have friends that are fun.   yes  no
— I have friends that will be there for me.  yes  no
— I am have friends that will let me be a good listener, fun, and there for them.   yes no
— I have a family of some sort that gives me a sense of well-being, pleasure, and security. yes  no
— I have the kind of stress that pushes and stretches me to become better.  yes  no
— I have attainable goals and a plan to reach them.   yes  no
— I am getting more education, training, and learning new things.  yes  no
— I feel joy just for the sake of joy.  yes  no
— I notice beauty just for the sake of beauty.   yes  no
— I have laughter, humor, and fun.    yes no
How many items did I say “yes” to out of 15_____
Counterproductive Stress Domain:
— Do I have an emotional crisis beyond what I can with in usual stride?    yes   no
— Do I have a physical crisis beyond what I can cope with in usual stride?   yes  no
— Do I have a financial crisis beyond what I can cope with in usual stride?   yes  no
— I  face danger in my life.   yes  no
— There is danger to the life of someone I care for.   yes  no
— There is danger to my core values and principles . yes no
— I have lost someone or something close, deeply valued or relied upon.   yes  no
— My good plans, relationships, or progress is often blocked or sabotaged.   yes  no
— I cannot change the losses and threats now facing me.   yes  no
— I have ongoing physical challenges that block my plans and progress.    yes   no
— I have ongoing emotional challenges that block my plans and progress.   yes    no
— I have social relationship problems I cannot change.   yes  no
— I have financial problems I cannot change.   yes  no
— There are things or people in my life that take away my hope or freedom.  yes no
— I face my biggest challenges alone.   yes  no
How may items did I say “yes” to out of 15?   _____
Figuring your Quality of Life Quotient:
What is my Security number? ____
What is my Meaning number? _____
Total of both together:_____
What is my Counter – Productive Stress number: _____
Subtract that from the total above, and the result is:  _______
This result is your Quality of Life Quotient.
Compare this number to the number you chose at the beginning (that number was on a scale of 1 to 4.  At this time, for the sake of comparison, put a 0 on the end of it).  How do these two numbers compare?
Ask yourself:  Despite the numbers, are there security and meaning items that shine so brightly that they seem to minimize your counter-productive stressors?
Are there counter-productive stressors so heavy and dark that they overshadow your security and meaningful items?
How does your QOLQ help you have the life you want,  despite having a mental illness?
What is your next step to enjoy and enhance your Quality of Life Quotient?
How do you find creative energy and inspiration to work on your plan?
Who can you talk to about these things?  Who understands and is safe and encouraging?
Thank you for taking the time here and tending to these things.  Take care! — Heidi

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_______________________________The Quality of Life Quotient was developed by Heidi D. Hansen, M.A., mental health therapist.  Copyright2017.  Full package of this test and how to use it is $29.99 plus shipping, use the Paypal buton here to purchase and email Heidi Hansen to tell her where to send it . Email . Thank you, and be well!



Meditation Art

Observing is how we become great artists.  Mindfulness allows both hemispheres of our brain to communicate, associate, and experiences become meaningful.

Feel free to browse these paintings (made by me, Heidi Hansen) and center your mind on the observation of it.  Teach a child to do the same.  Find your creative joywork.











Heidi Hansen’s Meditation Coaching or Mental Health Advocacy services are offered at a fee of $55.00 per our, but a sliding fee scale is available for those who qualify. payment-icon Payments can be made using major credit or debit cards via  Email Heidi at to inquire.  All the art here is copyrighted to Heidi Hansen and originals and digital copies can be purchased at a negotiated price.  Thanks! Enjoy!

A Letter to Children: You Have A Say

Dear children —
Hi, I’m Heidi hansen, a counselor for kids and this is Maile lei, a counselor helper pup in training. A Mental Health Ambassador for Kids!bizcardpic
Maile Lei is only one year old, it is still so hard for him to be good!
Oh, my it’s so hard to be good all the time. He has learned a lot and he knows the rules and what is expected, but sometimes he just would rather not.slide8
And it’s so hard for kids to follow the rules and expectations too, I think, don’t you?
Well, my job is to help kids do that because of two things:
You have a lot of say in who you are
you have a lot of say about your day.slide16
You can’t always control what happens around you, but you can control your approach to it, your sense of hope and humor, how you take good care of your feelings and your self.
It’s had to do everything right in school, but do you know that your main school classroom is on your inside — you can learn new things every day just because it’s your passion for that subject or that hobby or that talent.
And the more you put your energy into those inside things that are uniquely you,
you’ll feel good about yourself, and you’ll feel like you have more of a self.
Remember, only you own your Self.  Wow!  What fun! What mystery! What adventure!
And, the more independence and responsibility, trust and respect you’ll get from others.
So, how will you be your best self today?
How will you make your day count?
Think about what you want the most not what you fear.
What do you want to do in the future for a job, and how will you spend your money you earn from that job?
What do you want to do with the freedom you get with all the positive power you can use?
What can you read to learn about other people and places you’d like to know and visit?
What can you write and draw to find out more about yourself?
How can you take good care of your body so you feel confident and strong?
Today, make your day count for yourself, in both small and big ways.  Because you and your day really do count.
Well, as you think and do those things today, Maile Lei will be learning and practicing those same things, too, in his own way —
so, I’ll say goodbye with Maile Lei’s walking song that I made up for him and sing it to him when he wakes up and whenever he has a task to do or going for a walk.
Maile Lei’s walking song:
“Maile Lei has a special day,
Maile Lei has a special say —
Together, together,
It’s a Maile Lei Day!”
Bye for now, see ya later!   — Heidipayment-icon

Foods For Moods: Plum-Veggie Chutney over Breakfast Eggs

Fresh plums, crispy veggies, eggs and whole wheat toast — a nutrition blast for depression and anxiety and something creative to boost your self-esteem!

Heidi Hansen, M.A., has a mental health advocacy practice in Vancouver, Washington and is available online or in person on a sliding fee scale.  Payments can be made via, and she can be reached at (360) 892-3479 or email at



“I Am Who I Say I am, not Who You Say I Am.”


(above, “Old Frederick Barn,” by Heidi Hansen c2007)

Our personalities are so vulnerable to the powers of relationship, environment, events.

Our personalities are also dynamic, creative, and expansive.  Or, can be, with some insight, support, and effort.

We can tell ourselves, over and over, “I am who I say I am, not who you say I am.”

Meaning, that “you” to mean a blank space with the name of a person, an event, a place, a task, a problem, etc…That is your blank to fill in in whatever way makes sense to your goal of getting your identity back in your creative control.


(above, “Children of Creation,” by Heidi Hansen, copyright2007)

Because we are children of creation.  It is our natural state to be creative, curious, exploring and learning and becoming.  These things are hallmarks of mental health in children, and when we feel stuck or stagnant, it is time to question our depression, anxiety, sleep hygiene, and social networks.payment-icon

Thanks, and take care — Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. is available for online or in-person mental health advocacy.  Email at, and I can take major credit card payments via


The Power of Self-Talk

542334_428981240486607_840342183_nFor those of us who were neglected or bullied by our parents, our self-esteem never had a chance.

Kids fill in the blanks with negative life experiences, usually in the negative.  Kids learn to down themselves, inside their own minds and to others.  Kids will match their inside world with what their outside world is acting like.  It’s a way of making it all sensible.  And kids don’t have the power or resources to help themselves if they lose their environment.

A soggy potato chip is better than no potato chip at all.

This carries over into adulthood.  Even when we can “fake it” on the outside, and put on the appearance of positive self-esteem, on the inside we can be harassing, assaulting, berating and negating ourselves.


So we must — and this is a responsibility, not a luxury — actively and pointedly build positive self-talk.

This is a learning task.  And we learn in clusters of three.  We learn best when we have three modes of sensory input, rehearse the lesson three times, and validate the positive outcomes three times.


For example, if I want to learn to cope with the anxiety of doing a certain thing, I will say to myself, “It’s alright.  Go slow. Even if it’s not perfect, I can handle.”  3 self-talks.

I’ll put on music that is soothing or motivating, eat something nutritious and comforting, and wear an outfit that makes me feel comfortable and confident.  Three sensory things.

Then, do all of that together and practice, practice, practice.  Even during times when I’m not really needing it, I practice it.

I hope you enjoy these art pieces that are my own works, and use them to remember this little lesson on self-talk.payment-icon

Thanks!  More later — Heidi Hansen, M.A. Mental Health Therapist.  Ph: (360) 89-3479.  Email:






Reading Trees

readingtree1We read to get to know others, we write to get to know ourselves.  Literacy plays a big part in children’s mental health because it builds a strong sense of Self.  My two Reading Trees posters are available in several sizes — 8 x 10 ($15.00); 16 x 20 ($45.00), and 22″ x 28″ ($75.00).  I accept major credit cards via  Email me at to order.  Thanks, and enjoy! – Heidi