5 Quick Questions for a Simpler Life

“The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way”
African Proverb

Creating the habit of asking myself better questions on a daily basis is one of the most helpful things I have done for myself.

It is a very simple thing to do and after you have done so for a month or so the question tends to often pop up automatically when you need it. And over time this little thing can have a huge positive impact.

Today I’d like share 5 of my favorite questions that I use to simplify my life and to keep it simple. And at the end of this post I’ll share what I have spent most of my time with lately.

If I was just told that I had to go away for a conference tomorrow and it would last for a whole week then what would I spend today doing?

This is a wonderful question that quickly helps 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 the absolutely most important.

Who cares?

A very simple but a very powerful question. Whenever you feel like delving into some nitpicking or some pettiness ask yourself this question. Or use it whenever you feel an overwhelming need to be right in some discussion.

Yes, nitpicking or having to be right can give you sort of high. You feel good. But it’s a dirty high. It never lasts for long. And you just create a lot of negativity in the long run outside of yourself and within yourself as your self-esteem goes down.

Asking yourself “who cares?” is a way to lighten up, to not take every little thing so seriously. It’s a way be more open and relaxed with yourself and the people around you. It’s simply a way to be cool about stuff.

Am I right here, right now?

This is one can be very helpful.

Both because it’s very easy to slip out of the present moment and back into negative and pointless 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? A couple of important reasons:

  • Improved social skills.
  • Improved creativity.
  • You appreciate your world more.
  • Stress release.
  • Less worry-warting and overthinking.
  • Openness.

If I find I’m not in present moment I reconnect with it by for instance:

  • Belly breathing. I take belly breaths and just focus my breathing for a minute.
  • Keeping the focus on the current external surroundings for minute. For example right now, I can look out of my window and see the buss traveling up the hill next to my house. I see the plants in my window that probably need some water. I hear the humming of the computer-fan and the sound of the traffic going by. I feel that the floor is a bit cold. I use my senses to take in the world around me right now and to reconnect with the present moment.
  • Taking action. Taking action and doing things – especially things you love doing – tends to put you in the present moment a lot of the time. It works pretty well for me at least.

Will this matter in 5 years?

This one 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 a problem and made it a lot more terrifying than it actually is. And you may discover that you can actually solve it more easily than you thought while you were in a somewhat panicked state of mind.

Can I let this go?

So much of our time is often 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.

Coming very soon: The Self-Esteem Course
Over the last few months I have been working hard and I am now very happy to announce that my latest and what I believe may be my most helpful and important product so far is almost finished.

The Self-Esteem Course is a 12 week course in how to raise and maintain one of the most important things in life: your self-esteem.

And it will be launching in little over a week.

Why is self-esteem so important? Well, with a low sense of self-esteem you tend to simply not like yourself very much at all. You hold yourself back from exploring life and all your potential and dreams because you feel such things are for other people but not you. Or you stay in your unhappy place in life because you do not feel like you deserve more or could realistically go after what you really want.

It is not a good place to be in and no matter what tips or strategies you may learn for handling life better in a practical way – like with productivity or social skills – this shaky or very weak self-esteem foundation will hold you back and you’ll remain stuck even though “you know what you should do” to improve your life.

Over the past years I have improved my own self-esteem a lot and learned how to handle daily obstacles that could drag it down. What has worked, the best things I have found is what I’ll share in this course with practical action-steps to follow each week.

If this is something you’re interested in, be on the lookout next week for more information on the exact launch date and time and the special offer on the course that you can get during the launch week.

If you found this article helpful, then please share it with someone else by using the buttons below. Thank you! =)

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I like the post, especially asking the question ‘Will this matter in five years?’ I’ve never really thought about this but doing so will definitely help me keep on track on the things that are most important to me and worthwhile doing.

    Also congratulations on finishing the course it sounds interesting.

  • The power of questions…

    For me, questions are the best way to get focused. Every night, before I go to bed, I ask myself a few key questions; “How can I be more focused?”, “How can I be more efficient?”
    It’s really a good “technique”.

    I think I will try “Will this matter in 5 years”. I got a new job recently and I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the new stuff. However, 5 years from now, will this matter?! Not really.
    Thanks Henrik for those great tips.

  • Tez

    Great article. I enjoyed reading this. I just wish you would have spent a bit more time on the taking action suggestion.

    “Taking action and doing things – especially things you love doing – tends to put you in the present moment a lot of the time. It works pretty well for me at least.”

    Two quotes I’d like to tack on:

    “Action is the antidote to despair.” Joan Baez
    “Progress equals happiness.” Tony Robbins

  • Hi Henrik,

    I love great questions as they help me to navigate through life more successfully. In particular the question: who cares? Some years ago somebody told me that in most situations there are maximum 5 people really caring about what you are doing at that moment. During the years I experienced this is actually true. Asking this question makes it more easy to decide what is important and what is not.

    Thanks for sharing

  • This is a very good and well thought out plan. Patience remains a virtue and is a key element to attaining ones goals and being satisfied once the goal is reached. Many things in life won’t mean anything in a few years. What will mean something is the relationships we build and the foundations that we mold. Time builds character.

  • k

    Dear Henrik,

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom on simplifying the way we live our life. Every point you have discussed highlights a golden opportunity to truly maximise the power of living in the moment. An excellent method: asking ourselves does it really matter and will it in a few years. Every experience we encounter is an opportunity to grow and by applying your guidance into our daily undertakings.

    Thank you and wishing you all the best for your seminar.

    With light and peace

  • “Who cares?” is just like an injection of courage. This helps us to forget about “what if?” and “what others will think”. Just go all out in what you want to do. This question-asking technique is so great. Brilliant!

  • Most things won’t matter in 5 years or even 5 minutes so I would suggest to let it go and move on.

  • Peter Y.

    Thanks man, very helpful advice. If not to act out, then at least to read.

  • Becky

    Excellent points. I love the “who cares” idea because for me it helps to realize some of what I spend time doing is not meaningful to most people and sometimes not even me. Will this matter in 5 years is great too. I have used this technique with even shorter time frames depending on the issues? Will this matter next week? next month? next year? usually by this point the answer is no unless is it something important to my future. EXCELLENT website, I look forward to the upcoming course!

    Bless you.


  • Great post Henrik!

    I really liked the creativity of the first question, which is another way of “Am I right here, right now?”

    I would like to share my question, a bit similar, but with a different flavor.

    “What’s the next step?”

    It helps me move forward to the next vision beyond sight, and something I powerfully put my energy towards and appreciate at the same time. The moment is now! Appreciate it :D That’s something I remind myself everyday, at some point, always :)

  • Sneha

    Dear Henrik,
    I am just fortunate to have found your blog. It is so so interesting. I keep on coming back to this on and off, and always got something to learn from your articles. Congratulations for such a wonderful writing. I treat your work as ‘Social work’ which surely be giving you a sense of achievement and satisfaction in return…. and sure you love the appreciation but do not wait for it… am I right? It must be for the sake of good writing… I suppose. Thanks and God Bless

  • Sneha

    will look forward to more of your writing… :)

  • Lea

    I so identify with the question Who cares? It’s great when you need to let loose and let go.

  • Thank you all for adding your thoughts and your own simplifying questions! :)

    • Vishnu

      Fantastic article Henrik , Really loved reading it . I found your website 2 days back an I really loved it . This article has an outstanding theme and is awesome . I haven’t read an article of this sort which keeps it really simple but at the same time is power-packed. Best wishes for your blog and do write more . . .