“Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them.”
Dr. Ralph Gerard
“The one who asks questions doesn't lose his way”
One of the most basic but difficult things when trying to grow is simply to keep yourself on the right track.
To not veer off in your mind and in your world and take a wrong turn. This is unfortunately easily done in the day to day life as your ambitions and dreams may be forgotten among all your responsibilities and old habits.
One thing that's been useful for me is to continually ask myself helpful questions in various situations throughout my week. By asking yourself helpful questions you'll get helpful answers. By, on the other hand, asking yourself disempowering and negative questions you'll stop yourself from helping yourself. You tend to get what you ask for.
Here are five of my favourite questions right now.
Adding those – or your own favourites – to external reminders such as a bracelet or notes posted in highly visible places can be very useful when your mind is heading down a slippery slope of negativity or pointless babbling.
Also, as you start to use the questions more and more they tend to start to pop up almost automatically at useful points in your everyday life. The second question in this article is for instance one that my mind often asks me pretty much automatically nowadays whenever I find myself up in a negative situation.
1. Is this useful?
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.
2. 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 unfamiliar way.
3. 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 two weeks 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.
By asking yourself this question you can add more value to other people's lives. And more value and joy to your own life.
4. 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!
5. 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.
Now, what is your favourite/best question to ask yourself?