How Can I Improve The Quality Of My Life?

October 7, 2015
Warning: This journal post may increase the quality of your life, make you more joyful and save you money. Read at your own discretion.
Let’s think about what thinking is for a moment…

What is thinking? Thinking is merely a serious of asking and answering questions in our mind. We aska question and our brain in turn searches for an answer. Our brains are designed to answer the questions we ask automatically. That’s what our brains do – they solve our problems! This is why it is important to being aware of the quality of questions we ask ourselves. The quality of question will determine the quality of answer we get and this will ultimately determine the quality of life we have!

What ends up happening, however, is that we can get in the way of our brains solving problems that actually help us by way of us asking ourselves the wrong questions or not asking quality questions. We can get into patterned ways of thinking which (if we are not conscious about it) can get us “stuck” in behaviours that may not serve us or the world around us. In other words, we are not asking quality questions and therefore not receiving quality answers. So, for example, we may ask ourselves a patterned question, such as “why am I always in debt?” With this question, the brain will come up with answers such as “because you don’t make enough money, you don’t know how to budget, you don’t have a good job,” etc.  If you were to see a therapist, the therapist would recognize your thinking patterns and break it by way of asking a quality question such as “How can I have enough money to cover all my bills and do any activity I want?” Can you see the difference in question? Can you see how the brain will want to get creative in finding answers? Guess what? Now you don’t need a therapist to do this for you, you can do it for yourself (and in the process save yourself a lot of time and money).You can break your own patterns! You can solve your own struggles simply by learning the skill of asking yourself quality questions!

There is good news and not-so-good news about all this. The good news is that our brains do all the work as they search for the answers. The not-so-good news is that we have to be conscious and aware of what we are asking ourselves in the first place… this is easier said than done.
A simple example of this would be if someone were to cut you off in traffic, I don’t know about you, but I used to ask myself, “what is wrong with that person?” (implying like they are wrong/bad/inconsiderate/etc). After I asked this question, my brain would search for an answer and would come up with something like “because he’s a jerk! He doesn’t know how to drive!” This would result in me feeling annoyed, frustrated, upset and countless other negative feelings.
On the other hand, if I were to ask a quality question in that moment such as “I wonder why that person is in such a rush?” (implying compassion/curiosity/concern/empathy/etc), my brain would answer with something like “I hope everything is okay.”A simple switch of a question and I instantly feel completely different. The experience is the exact opposite. Now I’m feeling empathetic towards the person and coming from a place of love.
Has this happened to you? If you have your license, I’m sure it has. If you don’t, it could have been something as simple as getting the wrong sauce on your sandwich or having your coffee order done wrong. In simple situations like these, are you conscious of the questions you ask yourself?
What about the more important areas of life? Are you conscious of the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis? When you’re kids come running into the room screaming, what do you ask yourself? “What are they screaming about now?” Or “How can I help them?” When your partner does something that annoys you, what do you ask yourself? Instead of asking yourself, “Why does he/she always do this?” which probably isn’t true, why not ask “Why does this annoy me?” and perhaps follow it up with “How can I make sure this doesn’t annoy me in the future?”
I know for myself, a big question I used to ask was “Why can’t I be more like that person?” As I’m sure you can guess the answer that would always come to me were things like “because you aren’t smart enough. You aren’t funny enough. You aren’t young enough. You don’t have the money. You don’t have the credentials.” The list goes on and on… No wonder I never felt empowered! I was constantly beating myself down.

I’m sure you can see how this patterned way of thinking was keeping me stuck and not feeling good about my life.  When I learned the magnitude of simply learning the skill of asking a different question, everything changed! Now, instead of asking a question that was limiting and disempowering, I ask myself the question “How can I be better at being myself?” With this question, comes much better answers to say the least. The best part is that the answer changes as I change and grow whereas before the answer was always the same and always made me feel horrible and stuck. There was nothing good that came from my old question. Don’t get me wrong, that old question does creep up every now and then, however, I am conscious of it and am able to follow it up with my new question. It is a practice; a daily practice.

I encourage you to begin to become curious and conscious of the questions you are asking yourself. Then become aware of the answers that arise. After that, simply explore whether the answer that you get is serving you or hurting you. If it’s hurting you, what are some quality questions you could ask yourself instead that would help you get the result or outcome you desire?

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves, this isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes practice. However, with a little self compassion and humor you’ll begin to notice how funny and ridiculous some of the questions are that you are asking yourself. Like anything in life, the more you practice, the better you will become. There’s no quick fix. The quickest way is to practice more. Our brain is a muscle, you need to work it out if you want it to grow. You wouldn’t expect to go to the gym once in your life and expect to be fit for life, would you?
Questions have the power to change everything. The quality of our life is in direct proportion to the quality of questions we ask ourselves. They dictate the meanings we attach to things and therefore the experiences we have in any given moment.
What are some quality questions you can begin to ask yourself every day that make you feel good? Perhaps it is simply that question! – “What are some quality questions I can ask myself everyday that make me feel good?! I encourage you to listen for the answer. It may be subtle but I promise it will be there. Have fun with this; get curious and playful and remember there is no right or wrong just what works for YOU.
With Unconditional Love,

This journal entry was inspired by Martha Beck.

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