Life

Three Questions for Clarity of Life

The clickbait-type headline is actually a bit of a cheat; while I do believe that if you can answer these three questions, you’ll be able to more clearly navigate through life, they aren’t easy questions. If they are multiple choice, it’s something like:

What Color is the Sky?

  1. Blue
  2. Azure
  3. Where?
  4. 50 Shades of – dammit, they really ruined that metaphor, didn’t they?

But I’ve come across these three simple questions relatively recently from various sources, and they do make me think deeper about life and help me respond rather than react to things that happen.

  1. “What is your why?” In an article about productivity (time management in particular) Chris Guillebeau quoted an interviewee: “It’s less about how do I find time and more about why do I find time. You’ll always find time for things that have a strong enough why.” There are lots of corollaries to this: finding ways to strengthen your why, discovering your inner why, etc. But if you’re looking for motivation to overcome procrastination – or perhaps wondering what to do next out of your giant humongous to-do list – finding the why could be a good start.

  2. “What kind of game do they think we’re playing?”
    This was from the excellent short read A Spy’s Guide to Thinking by John Braddock, formerly of the CIA (sorry, Dad). He talks about interactions with people that could possibly be adversarial, and recommends this question instead of the more traditional What is it they want? Instead, figure out if they are playing a zero-sum game (winner and loser), a positive-sum game (winner-winner), or a negative-sum game (everybody loses but the winner loses the least). It pairs well with what I’m reading in Finite and Infinite Games and Reality is Broken, and gives a different perspective and new strategies for interactions.
  3. “What do you get from it, what’s the comfort?” This was directly from a friend with whom I was discussing the idea of habits – both positive and negative. This is the question she recommended when changing a habit becomes difficult – either in the process of or in the aftermath of success. For example, if you are trying to stop eating desserts, rather than just slap on a rule – no desserts! – examining what it is you get from dessert gives you a different strategy. My nutritionist recommended, for example, having a piece of dark chocolate, mindfully eaten, instead of a sundae gobbled down in front of the TV. It fulfills the same gustatory need while being much more healthy. My friend termed that theory “inviting rather than pushing back.” But first you have to figure out the right invitation – much like herding cats.

There you have it. Three questions to ask in situations that, if answered correctly, will help you understand your circumstances better.

Good luck.

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