“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
One of the most important things in life are the questions we ask ourselves continually. The ones we ask ourselves just about every day.
You can ask questions that make you feel more like a victim. You can ask questions that reinforce negativity and pessimism in your life. Or you can ask empowering questions. Questions that open up dormant and unexplored wells of positivity and opportunity in your world.
Here are 11 questions that could help you to vastly improve the quality of your life in 2009.
1. What is awesome about this situation?
This is a good way to find the lesson within an experience that may be seen as negative. Or to just reframe a situation and create some positivity and enthusiasm within yourself to get going to practically handle a situation. Instead of falling back into a dwelling, negative victim-thinking kind of thought pattern.
Asking yourself this question may seem stupid or silly at first. You may not find anything positive or awesome about a situation at all. But after you’ve started to ask yourself the question in more and more situations you’ll probably find something that’s at least good about the situation.
And the more awesome, positive and good things you can find in experiences the more your mind starts to accept that you can indeed find something good in just about any situation. Your mind just has to get a bit used to thinking about things in this new and somewhat unfamiliar way.
2. How can I give value in this situation?
This is a good way to improve your relationships and interactions. I listed four awesome reasons to give value in your everyday life a couple of months ago. They are:
- It makes you feel awesome.
- You tend to get what you give.
- It makes your life a whole lot more fun.
- It makes it easier to start new relationships.
What value can you give in a situation/to another person? Well, a few suggestions would be: bringing a positive attitude into situations, lending a listening ear, cheering someone up, offering useful advice or creating a fun/exciting situation for people in your life.
3. Would I rather be right or be happy?
Right in this question means the need to judge, the need to be right while interacting with other people. It’s not just about the guy who can’t be wrong in a discussion though.
It’s about the thought that you don’t always have to be against people or things. You don’t have to exist in a “me against the world” head space. You don’t have to defend positions all the time or build walls. You can let go of the mentality that says “someday I’ll show them all!” that may be based in some sad stories from your youth. You can just relax, be cool and be with people instead of against them in some subtle or not so subtle ways.
Feeling like you are right can bring some pleasure. But beyond that there is a lot more connection, happiness and positivity to be found. I like this question when I feel like I have to Â be right and judge. When I need to let go of inner trash. Or when I just have a feeling within that I should re-examine my current beliefs to move forward. I often find something helpful by doing so.
4. Is this useful?
A bit similar to the previous question. This is a good way to weed out thought habits that may not be so useful. Your mind may for instance fool you into believing that it’s the right thing to go around being angry at someone because, well, you’re right. Or that it’s right to dwell on a problem because you had such bad luck or was singled out.
Both thought patterns are quite seductive because they can fool you into believing that you are doing the “right” or “normal” thing. But are such thoughts useful to you? Probably not. They’ll just create suffering in your life, waste your time and do little to solve a practical situation. By asking if something is useful you can stop yourself while heading down a negative path and turn around towards the light again.
5. Am I taking this too seriously?
This is wonderful question to ask yourself to lower stress levels and be able to feel better and perform better in a situation where you have created a lot of internal pressure upon yourself. It take much of the self-imposed seriousness and weight off on your shoulders. It makes life lighter.
This is one question that I have some difficulty remembering from time to time, but when I do – which I usually do at some point – then it makes me feel a whole lot better. You can read more about not taking life too seriously and find some practical tips for doing that in Lighten Up!
6. Will this matter 5 years from now?
This is pretty similar to the previous question but I wanted to include it anyway. Why? Because it can really puts things into perspective. It can make just about any difficulty that you are having right now seem a bit trivial and not as important and heavy as you had imagined the last few days, weeks and months. You may discover that you had expanded and made the problem a lot more terrifying than it actually is.
Asking yourself a combination of the previous question plus this question may help you to put just about anything in your life into a more healthy and relaxed perspective.
7. What is the most important thing I can do right now?
If you are lost in what to do next in your day, week or life, ask yourself this question. The answer might not always be what you want to hear because the most important thing is often one of the harder things you want to do too. But it can help you to check your priorities and stop you from getting lost in busy work and instead start tackling the really big stuff.
8. What do I think is the right thing to do?
One of the hardest things to do in life is to do the right thing. What you think is the right thing. Not what you friends, family, teachers, boss and society thinks is the right thing.
What is the right thing? That’s up to you to decide. Often you have a little voice in your head that tells what the right thing is. Or a gut feeling.
Here’s three reasons to do the right thing:
- You tend to get what you give. By doing the right thing you tend to get the same things back. Give value to people, help them and they will often want to help you and give you value in some form. Not everyone will do it but many will. Not always right away but somewhere down the line. Things tend to even out. Do the right thing, put in the extra effort and you tend to get good stuff back. Don’t do it and you tend to get less good stuff back from the world.
- To raise your self-esteem. This is a really important point. When you don’t do the right thing you are not only sending out signals out into your world. You are also sending signals to yourself. When you don’t do the right thing you don’t feel good about yourself. You may experience emptiness or get stuck in negative thought loops. It’s like you are letting yourself down. You are telling yourself that you can’t handle doing the right thing. To not do the right thing is a bit like punching yourself in the stomach.
- To avoid self-sabotage.Â A powerful side effect of not doing the right thing is that you give yourself a lack of deservedness. This can really screw up you and your success. If you don’t do the right thing in your life then you won’t feel like you deserve the success that you may be on your way towards or experiencing right now. So you start to self-sabotage, perhaps deliberately or through unconscious thoughts. By doing the right thing your can raise your self-esteem and feel like a person who deserves his/her success.
9. Am I in the present moment right now?
This is one of my personal favourites. Both because it’s very easy to slip out of the present moment and back into thought loops about the past/future. And because it’s very beneficial to spend pretty as much of the time in your day as possible in the now. Why? I listed 7 reasons here:
- Improved social skills.
- Improved creativity.
- You appreciate your world more.
- Stress release.
- Less worry-warting and overthinking.
If I find I’m not in present moment I reconnect with it by for instance by taking belly breaths and just focusing my breathing for a minute. Or I keep my focus on my current external surroundings for minute. You can find more tips for reconnecting with the present in this post.
10. Am I detached from the results?
If you are doing something – writing, playing a sport, holding a speech etc – you can really put obstacles in your own way by being attached to a certain result.
When it’s game-time, when you are out on the court, stay unattached to the outcome. Or you will get nervous and fumble. This is for when you are out there playing. In between you can think about your goals and possible outcomes.
But when you play/blog/work etc. stay unattached to the outcome. Just focus on what’s in front of you. Things will become easier. You’ll create less inner anxiety and pressure for yourself. And you will perform better because you are focusing on what’s right in front of you and not weighing yourself down with a lot of imagined or real expectations from other people and self-created negativity.
This is important for me personally when I write a new blog post. If I were to think about if people would like it I’d probably get nervous, start second-guessing myself all the time and perhaps even wind up totally blocked to prevent exposure to possible pain from negative reader reactions.
11. What excuses do I have left?
There are always excuses to find. Maybe something from your past is stopping you. Or someone in your world. Or your health or economy or current circumstances in some way. The thing is that often – not always though – these reasons are excuses you come up with to rationalize that you should stay in the same place as now to avoid the possible pain and the discomfort you find outside your comfort zone.
It may be helpful to take a page in your journal – if you use one – and just list the excuses you usually come up with to not do something you know you deep down want to do. And then come up with how likely it is that the catastrophic scenarios in your mind will actually come into reality. And then write down the solutions that you can use to overcome your current reasons for not doing something.
You may find that things are not as terrible as you imagine. That most of your excuses may be kinda lame when you stop over thinking them and building them up in your mind and instead put them down on paper.
Asking yourself this question may not be very pleasant at all. But it might put a light on how you are deceiving yourself and it can help you to grow.
What other great question could help us improve the quality of our lives in 2009?
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