The power of questions. Whether conscious of this behavior or not, we all are constantly asking ourselves questions.
- What should I do now?
- Why can’t I learn to be like that?
- How many more days do I need to continue this?
- When will I finally find what makes me happy?
- How much is it going to cost?
- Where is the money going to come from?
- Why is this taking so long?
- What’s wrong with me?
Most of the questions we ask ourselves are not asked out loud, but in our heads.
Questions, and the way we answer and act upon them, shape our lives and determine our destiny. They chart out our course–our path in life–over days, years, and ultimately our lifetime.
We are born curious. As an infant we see a shiny object above while lying in the crib and wonder what it is. We see a shadow cross our field of view and our eyes follow it, curious as to what it may be. In silence the curious infant mind ask, “What’s that?”, beginning the lifelong process of associating experience to reality.
The questioning doesn’t slow down. As children we become master manipulators, asking questions incessantly until we get what we want.
- Are we there yet?
- How come Susie gets to…?
- Can I have one too?
As we age the questions change in nature:
- What do I want to do when I grow up?
- Do I really want to go to college?
- What will people think?
- What will make me happy?
Even in this last stage of life, the questions continue:
- Is this what life’s about?
- Is this all there is?
- What’s my purpose?
- What am I grateful for?
- Is making money and having lots of toys what life’s all about?
- How can I make a difference?
- What do I want to do now?
- Do I have enough money to last?
The Searching Brain
Have you noticed how when you ask yourself a question the mind automatically begins to search for answers? For example, say you’re looking for a particular bank as you travel in your car: all else becomes secondary as you notice every bank along the way. Or say you’re playing “I Spy” with your grandchild and the color is red. You’ll find every variation of red that exist in your surroundings. You focus right in on what you’re attuned to.
The same thing happens to you with any question you ask. Your brain automatically begins searching for clues and patterns, bringing forth everything in your radar that helps answer that question.
The way the brain does this is through something called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS is a set of connected nuclei deep in the brain stems of vertebrates that’s responsible for regulating arousal and sleep-wake transitions. It helps mediate transitions from relaxed wakefulness to periods of high attention during tasks requiring increased alertness and attention.
Perhaps the most important function of the RAS is its control of consciousness. It is believed to control sleep, wakefulness, and the ability to consciously focus attention on something. Your reticular activating system is like a filter between your conscious and subconscious mind. It takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious, an example being, “listen for anyone saying my name”.
In the gospels, the power of asking questions is emphasized. On the Sermon on the Mount found in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh
findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
While these verses begin an important metaphor generally believed to be about prayer, what if the power of questioning led us to whatever it is that we wished to create in our lives?
Said in another way, continue to ask and search for what you want in your life and you will find it. Your brain will automatically start seeking answers and ways to make it happen. It will be compelled to answer any question that it’s asked.
This is the power of asking questions.
Questions We’ve Grown Up With
Most of us have grown up asking questions that’s been deemed relevant by relatives, teachers, the media, and society as a whole. We’ve been taught that we live in a world where it’s more important to win, look out for yourself, and come out ahead irregardless of the effects it may have on anyone or anything that gets in our way.
When we take a look around and see the current conditions we’ve created by this train of thought, it’s obvious that this is not a workable or sustainable approach. Just take a look around you – wars; famine; corruption of personal, political, and corporate entities. There’s worldwide pollution of water, air, and land; species and cultural extinctions occurring at a rate unprecedented in history; crime…the list goes on and on.
Asking ourselves questions like the following have set us on course to our current problems:
- What do I need to do to earn as much money as possible?
- Who do I need to befriend to get what I want?
- How can I get more of what I want?
- How can I gain control?
- How can win?
Our shortsightedness and poor question asking is leading us to very challenging days ahead for ourselves and future generations. We have ignored good earth stewardship by not heeding the wisdom of those who succeeded in living in balance and union with the earth from the past.
One of the first mandates given many Native American Chiefs from the past is to think of what recourse the actions and decisions made today may have on those seven generations in the future. Said in another way, will our actions today sustain our children 140 years into the future? Where are we taking them? What will they have?
There are plenty of good questions we need to be asking ourselves today.
Questions Needing To Be Asked
If we wish to flourish and thrive in a healthy manner there are many questions we ought to start asking ourselves. These are questions to help us grow and contribute to the advancement of ourselves and society. Some good questions to ask are:
- How can I appreciate and utilize, even more, the gifts that God has given me?
- Have can I be more loving and giving to others?
- How can I live my life with integrity, passion, and contribute to the betterment of this earth and it’s people?
- Have can I make a difference and have fun doing it?
- Is finding my path in life important enough to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and face my fears and personal roadblocks?
The quality of our lives on this planet is directly related to the quality of the questions we ask ourselves. The more concise and focused the questions are, the better answers we will receive.
It’s time we start asking the right questions. Ask as if man’s future well-being and happiness depends upon it.
That just may be the case.
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