Charles Dudley Warner
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
A couple of weeks ago I posted an article with 3 questions that can help you to cut the irrelevant stuff out of your life. Today I would like to share five more questions that can help you to make 2011 a happier, simpler and lighter year.
1. If I was just told that I had to go away for a conference or vacation tomorrow and it would last for a whole week then what would I spend today doing?
This is a wonderful question to help you get your priorities in check.
If you feel lost at the start of your week or day or get lost in busy work then stop. Then ask yourself this question to refocus on what is the absolutely most important.
2. Would I rather be right or be happy?
I believe this question reflects a very common challenge in all kinds of relationships.
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 someone else” headspace. 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 being against them in some subtle or not so subtle ways.
Feeling like you are right can bring pleasure. But it is a short-sighted and dirty high that creates negativity in the long run.
And beyond that mental position there is a lot more connection and happiness to be found.
3. 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 those times you can think about your goals and possible outcomes.
But when you play/blog/work/are having some kind of social interaction etc. be present and stay unattached to the outcome. Just focus on what is in front of you.
Things will become easier. You will feel lighter and more focused. 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.
4. Is there anyone on the planet having it worse than me right now?
When I am stuck on focusing on the negatives, when I feel like a victim and that things are against me I ask myself this question.
The answer may not result in positive thoughts, but it can sure snap you of a somewhat childish “poor, poor me…” attitude pretty quickly. I understand that I have much to be grateful for in my life.
This question changes my perspective from a narrow, self-centred one into a much wider one. It helps me to lighten up about my situation. After I have changed my perspective I usually ask another question like:
What is the hidden opportunity within this situation?
That is very helpful to keep your focus on how to solve a problem or get something good out a current situation. Rather than asking yourself “why?” over and over and thereby focusing on the negatives and making yourself feel worse and worse.
5. Can I let this go?
So much of our time is spent not here but in the past. We relive old conflicts and arguments. We replay negative situations that may have happened last week or a really long time ago.
A terrible thing about this is how it is considered such a normal thing. People just do it day after day and in many cases year after year. It is a horrible waste of energy and the time you have here.
In some cases you may have to take action to resolve an old situation and get closure. You perhaps bring up the situation with the people involved to get them to understand and for you to better understand them too. And/or maybe you apologize or forgive.
But in many cases you can just let it go. Well, just letting it go is perhaps something of an oversimplification. But a few steps that have helped me to become better at letting go are these:
- Be ready to give up the benefits of not letting go. You may not want to let go because it makes you feel superior to someone else or because it makes you feel like a victim and so you receive attention and sympathy. To let go you have give up benefits like these.
- Accept it and then let go. I like acceptance. I like it because when you accept something instead of resisting it you stop feeding more energy into your problem and making it even bigger. A bit counterintuitive. This is also useful when it comes to letting go. If you first accept what you want to let go you aren’t so emotionally attached to it and still feeding it with your focus and energy. And so it becomes less powerful and easier to just drop. As long as you resist it then it will be hard to let it go.
- Let it go if it shows up again. In my experience it’s pretty common that what you let go shows up in your thoughts again. And that’s OK. Just let it go each time it shows up. After a while it stops showing up.
- ODDS&ENDS -
A small experiment: from time to time I’ll add a few thoughts and links at the end of a post. This week I am most excited about Tim Ferriss new book The 4-Hour Body (affiliate link). I picked up a copy for my Kindle yesterday and so far this book is a really fascinating read.
Another cool thing is Jacob Sokol’s new blog post 48 Online Authorities Reveal Their Most “Unrealistic” Accomplishments (I’m one of those people). And one blog I have been reading a lot recently is Everett Bogue’s Far Beyond the Stars. Check it out.
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