“Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz
Many people say they are seeking answers but that’s like looking for love in all the wrong places. The power lies in the question. Answers can only be a reflection of the question you ask – much like the relationship of the moon to the sun. But the question has the energy to create space, connections and choice all of which are the stepping-stones to your happy place.
There are three types of questions that have the power to change your life. These power questions fall into 3 categories: The Perspective Shifter, The Clarifier and the Totally Absurd.
Here is a quick quiz to demonstrate how these questions can change everything for you.
The Perspective Shifter
This type of question is used when you are in a negative situation and you are looking for a quick shift. This question has the power of transformation by taking a “bad” situation and changing it into a happiness multiplier for you.
You have just been given a less that stellar job performance review. Which of these questions are most like your inner dialogue:
- Why is it I always take the blame for everything? If I had only gotten my Masters Degree then I wouldn’t be in this stupid job. Man, I really blew it.
- My boss is such a jerk. He is totally unrealistic if he thinks I’m going to work harder when he treats us all like crap. Plus the pay stinks – he’s lucky I show up at all.
- What part of this feedback can I use to improve myself? What shifts do I need to put into place so I can expand my potential?
If you circled #1, you are a self-blamer. If you circled #2 you are an other-blamer. Either way blame is like cement to misery. Blaming questions don’t create the space for growth or change but they can be very alluring because they are delicious to talk about to your friends and family. It feels really good when you can whip up a chorus of support from others. However you just continue to get more of the same old stress and misery.
If you circled #3 then you’ve asked some perspective shifting questions. These questions open up the space for growth, create a connection between the information you received and a positive outcome for you while creating the energy of choice and freedom. These questions lead you to new outcomes by inspiring action instead of complaints.
These questions offer you the opportunity to clarify what outcomes you want rather than keeping your focus on what’s going wrong in your life.
You are on your way to work and you are totally frazzled. Your morning was another hectic mess. The kids were fighting at the breakfast table, your spouse forgot to make their lunches even though you asked 3 times and you are already exhausted and the day has just begun. Which of these is most like your inner dialogue?
- Why does this always happen to me? My life is miserable! When did I let it get so bad?
- For just one day can’t I have a smooth, peaceful start to the day? Is it really too much to ask? If they loved me they would act differently!
- What is it I really want? What would be more fun than the morning I just had? What can I do to move in that direction?
Again, #1 & #2 are blaming questions. They keep you laser focused on your problems until that’s all you can see. And from that point you can only create more of the same.
However, #3 is a clarifying question. It asks your conscious & subconscious mind to create something new. By opening up the space of looking toward what you’d like and creating a clear vision of it, you give yourself the connections needed to make new choices.
The Totally Absurd
This type of question is so different I will discuss its merits after you answer the quiz question.
You co-worker has just gotten something you think you want. Fill in the blank with a new job, gotten engaged, become pregnant, gotten divorced, lost weight or whatever you think is something that will make you happier than you are right now. Which of these is most like your inner dialogue?
- Why can’t I ever be happy? I never catch a break. My life is the pits!
- Great – like she needed that – her life is already a bed of roses. She’s got it so easy. I wish I had her life.
- Do you expect a toddler to be able to do high-level calculus?
Ok – so this was a bit of a trick but hear me out. Of course by now you see that questions #1 & #2 are blaming questions and they only serve to keep you in that whirlpool of stress, misery and unhappiness.
But what about #3? The totally absurd question is one used by professionals to jolt you out of a rut. We often get so ingrained in our stories we need something to dynamite us out of our groove. So, the answer to question #3 is probably not, but on occasion it could happen but would you really want it if it did?
So when we are comparing ourselves to someone else we never fully know the whole truth so the outcome is off-target. Our view of their life in comparison to ours is like expecting a toddler to do high-level calculus – the problem is not the toddler but with our expectation.
Of course a toddler can’t do calculus – but if we expect it we are the ones that are going to be disappointed over & over again. And, if we point to the one in a thousand who can actually pull off that feat as reinforcement then we are digging an even deeper hole.
Comparing your life to someone else’s always leads to disappointment because you only see the façade – you can never really know what is really going on so you are chasing an illusion. But if you hold your life up to someone who is in the one in a thousand category then you are going to be really disappointed – but ask yourself, would you want to be in that category?
Have you really thought through all the stressors of being famous, a genius, or whatever you think someone else has that you don’t? The trick to being happy is to be happy with what you have so you can create more things to be happy about.
The old adage garbage in garbage out is especially true when discussing the questions you ask yourself. You cannot get life-affirming, happiness producing answers from blaming and complaining questions.
So please go through your day asking yourself, “What would be more fun that this?” or “What would be the best outcome of this situation?” Play with asking yourself different questions and see what amazing answers pop into your life.
What are the questions that shift your perspective? Please let me know!
Here’s a funny happiness video showing how the magic of the unexpected can change everything!