This week we’re talking about Questions — the value of asking more of them, and the potential of making inquiry a regular life practice.
Rainer Maria Rilke once advised a young poet to “live in the questions,” and that advice can serve all of us.
So here, we share the questions we’ve found most helpful in keeping us on a good path, as well as the questions that tend to get us in trouble.
From the reality-challenging questions that define Byron Katie’s “The Work,” to the Learner and Judger questions that make up Marilee Adams’ Choice Map, we explore the evolution that is possible when we ask, rather than assume.
Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you consider the questions you might benefit from asking in your own life.
“Questions” Episode Highlights
- The power of questions (vs. “expert answers”) in shaping your choices and responses
- Using inquiry to slow the rush of emotions and judgment when things go awry
- Dallas’s recent experience with questioning just about everything he believes in
- Acknowledging and finding comfort in the fact that most of us — including people who appear to have it all together — are fumbling around most of the time
- The value (and uncertainty) that comes from asking questions without clear answers
- Marilee Adams Ph.D.’s Choice Map, and the Learner and Judger paths available to us at any time
- Letting go of what we think we know and embracing mystery and magic
- The power of asking “What if …” in exploring our choices and plans
- What we can learn from asking other people questions, especially people we don’t know well
- The questions Dallas and Pilar are sometimes afraid to ask themselves
- Helpful and not-so-helpful questions, confirmation bias, and the hazards of clinging to answers
- Abandoning our assumptions and asking what’s calling us
Consider a question or decision that you’ve been contemplating for a while. Write down the first two obvious answers and keep going until you find a third (or fourth or fifth) response. Don’t dismiss anything.
Choose from one of these options:
1) If you are facing a current quandary or conundrum, watch one of the Byron Katie’s “The Work” videos (linked in the Resources below) and then work through that process yourself.
2) Work through Marilee Adams’ Choice Map. Notice if you naturally tend towards the Learner or the Judger path, and pay particular attention to the Switching questions.
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- The Work of Byron Katie — four simple but powerful questions for helping to identify the root causes of suffering
- Byron Katie videos — a great way to see The Work in action
- Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams, Ph.D., plus her Choice Map and her work via the Inquiry Institute
- David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” commencement speech (audio and transcript)
- From Maria Popova and Brain Pickings: “The Power of Cautionary Questions: Neil Gaiman on Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ Why We Read, and How Speculative Storytelling Enlarges Our Humanity” (excerpts from an essay in Neil Gaiman’s The View From the Cheap Seats)
- Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning
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