Click on the picture above to see products with that question on them to remind you to use this quesiton.
Audio for Day 9
Welcome to Day 9!
I started talking about questions yesterday and ending up talking about the story we tell ourselves. That’s why I write at the last minute. It allows me to ‘get into the flow’ and write what’s truly from my heart at that moment. I was guided to talk about the story…so I listened and knew it was where I was supposed to be.
Back to questions today because asking a good question is my best go-to strategy for shifting my thinking. Since we already know that our brains answer what we ask, what are the kinds of questions that help us the best? There are many. I will share my favorites over the next few days, the ones I use regularly, the ones I taught my students back in the days of Strategies for Success, the ones we share with students to help them de-stress in the Kaleidoscope Theatre play “BULLY”.
Here’s the first. When something happens that is not how you wish it would be, ask: What’s good about this?
I used that one when I my tire blew out on the overpass from Interstate 195 to 95 a few years ago. I was in a terrible position on top of a ramp 80 or so feet over the ground with little room for the rushing tractor-trailers to pass me. AAA couldn’t hear me as I was calling. I was afraid to stay in the car because it was in prime position to be hit. I got out of the car and walked about 20 feet back. My thinking was that if the car got hit, at least I wasn’t going to be in front of it. Ok, that’s the bad part. Then I kicked into asking what was good about the situation.
Here’s what my brain said back:
It’s not raining
It’s not winter
It’s not dark out
My 90 year old parents aren't with me
I wasn't on my way to something I couldn't reschedule
That began to take the edge off how scared I was. I started focusing on the view of the harbor which I could never see driving by and visualizing myself safely in my garage (another strategy I’ll share later). I got out of there safely which is a blessing in itself because even AAA had to call for help since it was such a dangerous location.
What’s good about this?
Sometimes it’s hard to find anything good. We’ve all experienced both personal and global tragedies and there is little to anything to find good. But for most more mundane issues, if you can’t find anything on the first question, ask “What could be good?” This provides your brain with a greater area to search for an answer. Sort of like googling something. The more detail, the better the search.
Now there are possibilities where there may not have been any before. Take it even further with two more questions.
What can I do to make it good?
What can I do to make it fun?
I love these two. The first one takes you out of the victim mode. When you ask what you can do to improve the situation, you take charge of your mood, your attitude, your life. Whatever’s happening, you’re now choosing to make it better. You know by now what that means. You’ve shifted your thinking, changing the hormones released in your body, dissipating the negative energy.
The last one is the best. What can you do with the situation to make it fun? If we believe positivity matters, doesn’t it make sense to make what you’re doing fun whenever possible?
I used these question to create the Strategies program. It was my response to a bullying incident in my school that tragically ended in suicide.
What’s good about this? There was nothing good about that to be sure.
What could be good? We could learn something that would prevent future incidents.
What can I do to make it good? This was where I took the leap and wondered what I could do. It actually began on the day of the Columbine shooting when I grabbed a pad and wrote down 100 things we should be teaching to teens to empower them. At that time, I wasn’t sure what I could do. When I lost my student a year later, I didn’t care. I was going to find something I could do.
What can I do to make it fun? Once I got the go-ahead to teach Strategies, I wanted to make it fun. All the big seminars are fun. I believe schools should be fun because it’s how we learn best.
Those questions have served me well. A big thank you to Tony Robbins who introduced me to them and this kind of thinking. He was one of the earliest people who taught me that we get to decide how we look at things. He called them Power Questions because they allow you to take back the power in your own life.
Commit this bunch to memory if you can or store them in the note section of your phone/tablet so you have them there for easy reference. Hopefully you’ll come to use and love them as much as I do.
And there’s plenty good about that!
P.S. Now you can choose to continue to the next day or wait until tomorrow. Either way, here's a link to the next chapter.