8 (More) Life Changing Questions
I love questions. A good question can open up limitless possibilities in our lives. But questions also require us to be courageous and to hang out with the unknown for a while, sometimes a long while… that’s where the treasure is.
A couple of years ago, I asked a number of people to share the most important question they ever asked themselves as well as how it changed their lives. The result was one of my favorite LLP posts: 10 Life-Changing Questions.
Reader response was so positive and I loved the process so much that I promised myself to do it again. Now is the time! I’m happy to share with you this new batch of life-changing questions from another group of people whom I love, respect, and admire. This time I also included myself since many folks have asked what my question is.
Here is the invitation I offered to everyone:
- What’s the most important question you’ve ever asked yourself?
- How did (does) that question change your life?
Luisa Kolker is a shamanic healer and psychotherapist based in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Luisa’s workshops and individual sessions have been a wonderful vehicle for transformation for me, and I feel so lucky to live in close proximity to her.
What are you willing to do to come to your own assistance?
Actually, this was a question that someone asked me at a time in my life when I felt really broken. Desperately, I flailed in every possible direction to avoid the ultimate and obvious truth: that I was it; no one else could save me from the black pit of ancient pain I encountered in the core of my being.
And so my answer to that question became: “I will do whatever it takes. I will die to my lifelong attachment to looking okay while feeling awful. I will let my heart break and rebuild it again. I will be the friend, mother, lover for whom I’ve been waiting.”
Robin Rice is an author, teacher, social thought leader and mentor. Robin founded Be Who You Are Productions, which brings creativity to social change in both profit and not-for-profit platforms. While I have not yet met Robin in person, she is an online inspiration and I love her perspectives on life and work.
Can you make it bigger?
Every time I write a novel, I ask myself to go in and see if I can make it bigger. Which is to say, more vivid, more universal, more compelling, more accessible, etc…? In other words, can you make it a “bigger” story. Big stories compel us to turn the page.
In the same way, this question has become a way I challenge my life. How can I be bigger… bringing the world more presence, more beauty, more impact, more generosity, more curiosity, more truth?
Bigger isn’t always better, for sure. Sometimes that tiny, small gesture is exactly right. But in that case, I’d say “more simple.” The point isn’t the bigness, but the stretch beyond into bigger thinking.
Desiree Adaway is a tower of power. That’s the best way I know to describe her! On a more tangible level, Desiree draws on years of experience in the nonprofit and foundation worlds to help talented leaders to successfully navigate through integrations, reorganizations, and organizational evolution. She’s amazing, trust me.
What are you afraid of?
This question exposes me to my vulnerabilities and fears. I get to name them then face them. I get to lean into discomfort and when I do, I get to feel resilient. There are great lessons for me in both those activities.
This is good medicine. The healing kind that makes me feel strong spiritually.
We as a society like to run away from discomfort. We don’t like being the only ANYTHING. It’s natural for us to enter a room, whether it’s a yoga class or a networking event and search out someone that looks like us, or sounds like us so we can relate to them. We do this to help ease our anxiety. Our social security blanket.
Yet I argue it’s good for us to push a bit and lean into discomfort and fear- I am not talking about living in a place of high anxiety every day – but to step into a space that is new and unfamiliar. This discomfort is a gift… one that very few people or organizations actively seek. This discomfort should push your boundaries so that you feel tired, but it should never hurt. Like when you speak your truth and your voice is loud and clear and just a bit shaky.
Discomfort and fear are medicine.
Satya Colombo is a consultant and healer who helps change-makers awaken their creative flow and build lives in alignment with their highest calling. He loves yoga, writing, playing ukulele and journeying with the intrepid tribe of Soul-Fire Walkers in the Fire of Love Community! His four-part Awakening Epic Flow course is available to anyone here: Live and Thrive in Your Highest Truth: The 5 Elements Way of Epic Flow.
Your question is great, and it’s not an easy one to answer. I pondered it for over a week, and quite a few popped up. There is one that really stands out for me, though: What is my soul crying for?
I recently rediscovered this question in my work for the Fire of Love Experience. I was pondering how to really support our tribe in reawakening the essential inquiry: “Who am I and what am I here for?”
I was so surprised by my own answers to this simple question — what is my soul crying for? It was shocking! From there I began to inquire into what would bring me closer to the fulfillment of these core desires. The inquiry continues to lead me through strange and beautiful uncharted territories!
If you can get intimate enough with yourself to draw out your soul’s deepest yearnings, there’s no reason you cannot also awaken the fire in your spirit strong enough to burn any obstacles in your path!
June Tanoue is a pretty rare combination — a Zen priest, reiki master, and Kumu Hula (master hula teacher). She’s also a good friend and a gem of a human being. Any time I go to Chicago, I love visiting the peaceful oasis that she and her husband Robert have created there.
I think my biggest question now is, “What do I want to do in the years remaining before I die?”
I’m turning 63 in a couple of weeks. I’m starting to think about the fact that my body will physically disintegrate at some point. So, how do I want to spend my remaining time here? A friend recently told me the best advice he ever received was, “Don’t get good at something you don’t like doing.”
At first that didn’t really resonate with me…and then I thought, “That makes a lot of sense.” Why keep doing something that doesn’t nourish and feed your body, mind and heart? I’ve always tried to follow my bliss or do things that feed my heart. Sometimes it’s hard and I wonder if I still love what I’m doing. It’s good to ask questions and not expect an answer right away.
My newest projects: I’m going on the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage this summer to witness the place that many of my relatives were interned during WWII. And I’m starting to study Tibetan appliqué with Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo. I want to leave something beautiful behind and enjoy myself in the process.
Mike Ambassador Bruny is a speaker, life coach, and author who helps young professionals through life transitions. I first encountered Mike’s beaming smile and brilliant bowtie last fall at a conference, and I so much appreciated how much love and kindness he put into helping many of us get to know each other better…truly embodying his tagline, “Hashtags to Handshakes.”
Why not me?
That question allowed me to move from a mindset that says, “It will never happen,” to “let THEM tell me ‘no’,” to “I got this.”
The question, “Why not me?” allowed me to stop focusing on all the reasons why something can’t happen and instead focusing my energy and that of the universe on alignment to make things happen. It’s shown up in having the wedding of my dreams at Oheka Castle, to getting job opportunities and to being part of really cool projects.
Am I making this decision from love or fear?
Anytime I’ve been at a crossroads or faced with a significant decision around work, relationships, or other aspects of my life, I let myself sit with this question for a while. Sometimes it takes a long while before I get really clear on it, because what initially seems like a fearless choice may actually have a lot of fear informing it when I look more deeply.
The best barometer is often my own body – when I imagine making a certain choice, am I feeling an expansive energy inside me? Or is something constricted? As I consider my decision, am I being ruled by anxiety and anticipating the worst possible outcome, or am I trusting in the essential rightness of the universe and that all is working out as it should?
Sitting with this question has always guided me in the “right” direction. No matter what I decide, I rest easier in the knowledge that my intentions are clear. Even if the outcome isn’t immediately positive I know that I am moving in the direction of love and openness – and that can never be “wrong.”
Karen Maezen Miller thought she wasn’t answering my question when she tapped out the words below on Facebook. I thought her response was perfect. Maezen is a wife, mother, and Zen Buddhist priest at Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. She’s also a pretty amazing writer and the author of a couple of great books about spirituality in everyday life: Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold.
I’m afraid I would have to make something up that wouldn’t be quite true. So instead I will try to remember what I learned from Maezumi Roshi. He said the “magic question” was “Why?” Not because there is an answer, but because the question points us to the infinite ways we suffer, and the infinite ways we can free ourselves from suffering. That’s why I like to say that in Zen we do not find the answers, we lose the questions.
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