The quality of your life is based on the questions you are asking.
If you meet someone that is discontent with their life, ask them what their biggest fears are. Ask them what they dislike about life. Ask them where they feel stuck. Discover what their concerns & questions are regarding what they have the most trouble with. Chances are they’ve been struggling with the same questions for years. The same questions played out over and over again, years apart, with different people and different situations — yet resulting in the same outcome.
If you meet someone with an exciting & joyful life, find out what they are most curious about. Take note of what they dedicate their time and life to. Ask what their beliefs are about the world. Find out what they live for. More than likely they are inquisitive, and like to think creatively, as well as optimistically. They are the kind of person that relishes difficult tasks, and bases their life on realizing spiritual insights and/or personal growth. They are grateful for challenges, and look forward to the excitement & unique opportunity each one brings. People like this love learning & experimenting, they are eager to see what each day brings.
I wrote a blog post about this theory in 2014 titled, The Question Shaping Your Life. If you haven’t read it, go back and read that post before reading this one. It will help to give you a better understanding of what I am trying to say and work with. Another blog post that might bring clarity on this topic is Your Biggest Obstacle Doesn’t Exist. It’s helpful in the same way, but approaches the issue from a different angle.
In the last few weeks, I’ve felt some sort of renewed enthusiasm to take life by the horns and ride it like a rodeo bull. So many things I haven’t felt excited about (in years!) seem like fun adventures again. This is all great, and I have so much in the works, but I notice creepy old fears and concerns seeping to the surface. The same uncreative, uninspiring, unyieldingly dogmatic questions are rising to the forefront. I know all too well what they will lead to — more of the same, of course. More of what I already experienced. More of what I haven’t fully woken up to or learned whole heartedly. More of what I don’t want.
Let me give you two examples of how this type of thinking and questioning works.
Example #1 – Should I get together with my ex-boyfriend?
Example #2 – Do I really want to start a new career/business?
Typical questions for the above examples…
Should I get together with my ex-boyfriend?
What if it’s a bad idea? What if we end up breaking up again? What if we just repeat all the mistakes we made in the past? What if we love each other, yet simply aren’t compatible? What if we go through all the trouble of getting back together, then realize it was a foolish idea? What if this decision leads to more disappointment and turmoil? What if we think we are happiest together, when in actuality we are better off apart?
Do I really want to start an entirely new career/business?
How do I know which one of my ideas is the best to pursue? When is the best time to start it? What if I get tired of it and change my mind? What if it’s more work than it’s worth? What if it fails miserably? What if the start-up cost is more than I anticipated or can afford? What if it doesn’t make a livable profit or enough to grow the business? What if the new business gets bad reviews? What if it’s not my life purpose, and I am only wasting time?
Atypical questions for the above examples…
Should I get together with my ex-boyfriend?
Would a planned duration of close friendship help us grow, understand each other better and test our newfound commitment, before creating a partnership again? What didn’t we try in the past that would be great to implement now? What past mistakes can we use as insights into learning what does & doesn’t work for us? How can we use each other’s strengths and best traits to build a strong bond, as well as a fulfilling & fun relationship for us? How could we bring something new & exciting to the relationship, and make it an ongoing habit? What was left unsaid that we can say now? How has the time apart given us greater insights about what we need individually, as well as what we love most about each other? What challenges can we get creative with and turn into exciting games or stepping stones that take us to the next level? What types of relationships/partnerships do we admire, that we could emulate and learn from? What is happening in our relationship when things are going really well? Can those things be implemented on a regular bases? In what ways do we make each other happy, can we write them down and keep them as an ongoing practice? How could getting back to getting back together be the best choice we could ever make? What excites us about getting together again? What are the best ways to keep that enthusiasm going & growing? What would be our ultimate relationship/partnership and life together? How could we create that as a team?
Do I really want to start an entirely new business?
Which business idea do I feel most passionately drawn to? What type of work would I do for free, simply because I love the practice/process? What am I itching to try? Who’s work/business am I inspired by (or jealous of), and what about it inspires me most? How is it profitable for them, and what type of structure makes it a successful business? How could I make those key principles work for me and my work? What type of work do I never lose enthusiasm for? What type of work have I been involved in that was the most fun and the most profitable? How can I do more of it? What if I hired a career coach that could advise me and hold me accountable to my most creative & courageous self? What can I learn from businesses that had very low start-up costs, yet made enough profits to develop the business quickly? What have I learned from my past business ventures that failed? What made them unsuccessful or undesirable for me? How can I use those insights to develop a new business that not only thrives, but suits me better? How can I use any bad reviews or negative feedback I receive, to guide my business into greatness and a better understanding of my customer/business? Who do I know (or can reach out to) that is in a similar industry or situation as me? Can we root each other on and share findings/resources? What is the special way in which I contribute to people or the planet? Can I make a business of it? What do people usually request of me? How am I most helpful to them? What do I consider my best work? What type of work would I love to be remembered for after I die? What is my contribution to making the world a better & brighter place? How could I be of service to others, while living a life I love? How can I make it my business and number one goal?
Okay, if you made it this far into blog — take a moment to feel it. Notice the feelings you had while reading the Typical Questions versus reading the Atypical Questions. Did the Atypical questions not give you a feeling of lightness? Did they not inspire you? They gave you energy, right? They filled you with possibility and numerous options, right? Now think about the Typical Questions. Did they not leave you heavy and pessimistic? Did they not feel hopeless? Do you think they would lead to more of the same? Can you see how they might be a vicious cycle of ‘what you resist persists’?
Often I remind myself, of the quote “where your attention goes, it grows.” If I focus on unwanted outcomes, that’s what I will get! If I dwell on the negative and unproductive aspects of life, that’s what I will experience.
There is a Timothy Leary saying that I often repeat. It gets right to the point: “We don’t have a problem, we need a plan.” It’s approaching a challenge with action and optimism.
The problem is never the problem, it’s our thinking that’s the problem. It’s our thinking that we need to fix. The rest will fall into place as a result of our mindful processing of important matters and insightful actions. Like they say, everything happens from the top down.
Here are a few helpful keys to asking more exciting questions. I’m going to give you questions to ask your questions. :) How does that sound?
7 key questions that lead to better (& more exciting) questions:
1. Is my question based on imagined worries or possible solutions?
2. Is my question creative and open-minded or resigned and limited?
3. Is my question full of infinite possibilities or does it leave me very few options?
4. Is my question making me powerless or responsible for the outcome?
5. Is my question providing a plan of action or leaving me with no choice?
6. Is my question stating what I want or what I don’t want?
7. Is my question giving me a fresh perspective or repeating what I’ve tried/seen before?