If you’re like me, you began asking questions when you were a toddler. You may have even become a bit obsessed about the questions, to the chagrin of those around you. Behavioral scientists tell us that continuing to ask questions as adults keep our minds nimble; while also fostering other multiple benefits.
It’s a bold premise to say that asking questions can change your life. Yet, I believe that being a learner makes a person more aware, more interesting, and certainly someone other people might enjoy being with – whether our family members, friends, or co-workers.
If you want to be a better person to be around – and certainly a healthier one – consider asking these ten questions. The process of answering them is probably even more important than your answers. So, why not ask yourself one question a day?
1. What questions am I asking myself? This is not a mind trick or simple redundancy. It is an important part in maintaining authenticity. This practice builds an alert, thoughtful consciousness and deciphers information that is most needed in our personal development. Ask this one frequently.
2. What’s not working? We have a profound capacity to do the same things repeatedly expecting different results; the common definition of “insanity.” By asking this question we can get closer to the root cause of behaviors or attitudes that don’t serve us well.
3. For what am I grateful? This begins with facing the eliminating belief that venting and complaining is somehow a helpful way to cope with frustration. The alternative response would be to take the quantum leap in another direction: focus on the people and things for which we are most grateful. In fact, keep a gratitude journal. Studies are in, telling ourselves a positive story changes our perception.
4. How am I accepting “what is”? We get to choose how we see and classify the things we do as well as our experiences. We get to decide our perspectives and if we cast a positive or negative light on something. We can look beyond the surface of any given situation and decide rather than asking “Why me?” we can make the choice to accept things that we cannot control and subsequently, learn from them.
5. What do I bring to my world? Not only do we matter but each one of us fulfills a unique purpose. “What do I want it to be?” Whether you can clearly articulate your purpose or it is vague, keep asking the question. Your vision will become clearer and you will live with clarity of purpose and conviction.
6. How am I smiling (laughing, having fun, finding humor, living joyfully)? For some odd reason children are allowed to have fun but adults have adopted a more banal existence. We don’t have to be a walking comedy shtick but we can begin by not taking ourselves so seriously and laughing more. We can look for things that are funny and then try something novel, just laugh!
7. Where am I wrong? One of the greatest favors we can do ourselves is to admit that we are wrong. Our ego will work tirelessly to convince us otherwise and pump counterfeit excuses for our oft-ignorant conclusions or behavior. Not only is it freeing to admit it, but we will gain respectability by sharing how we are, or may be, wrong than by insisting how right we think we may be.
8. What do I do with my memories? In the span of our life memories will inspire or stymie us. Ironically, the choice of their impact is ours. In each present moment we can let a moment in the past be a memory to honor and celebrate, or from which to learn. We just don’t get the moment back. Carry the memories. Make the choice to live in the present moment.
9. What boundaries do I need to set and enforce? Boundaries are imaginary lines that help us protect ourselves both physically and emotionally; helping us stand up for ourselves and stopping us from agreeing to do things we really don’t want to do. Setting boundaries is about deciding what we will and won’t tolerate any longer in our life, and then communicating this firmly and consistently whenever we need to.
10. What sacred cows are worth challenging? It’s one thing to break a rule, it’s quite another to challenge a sacred cow – something immune from criticism or question. Throughout history sacred cows were challenged, often bringing pain and persecution to the questioner. Yet, in the end, we experience levels of freedom from many of the tyrannies associated with situational sacred cows. Ask the question respectfully and see what happens.
What if…we spent some time asking ourselves these questions?