Wrong Questions or Right Questions?: Get What You Want

I had a great birthday weekend, thanks to Kathy! Baseball game at Busch Stadium — Cardinals come from behind win over the Giants. Amusing, excellent, comical performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Forest Park in St. Louis — outdoors on a night that was dreamy in and of itself, 75º and no mosquitos! In both places, I watched people enjoying themselves, enjoying others, enjoying life. It made me think.

How many would be going back to a job or life that puts them in dissonance with the self that I was privileged to witness in their eyes and faces as they enjoyed themselves? If they are living in dissonance, what are they doing to help themselves feel the joy they were experiencing over the weekend? How many ask what their purpose is in life? What questions do they ask themselves? Or have they even given up asking questions to help themselves discover joy in their daily lives?

Thinking about questions, as an educator, I often heard and sometimes said to reticent students that there is no such thing as a dumb question. I believe that, but only if I refine the statement: there are no dumb questions, but there are wrong questions, questions that don’t target what the student really wants to know.

For example, sometimes I would have the majority of a class really engaged when one lone hand would shoot up: “What time is this class over?” No, wrong question, a deeper something was going on. Re-direct by me: “You’re bored, don’t understand, or don’t see the purpose. What would be a better question? Maybe, ‘Why do we have to know this? What are you talking about?’” That always took the steam out of potential disrupters, because they really did have deeper issues.

When things aren’t what we envision in our lives, what questions do we ask? If you can’t ask the right questions, you’ll never get the right answers. When folks are bored with life, despairing, depressed, or frustrated and ask Why me, it’s the wrong question.

At such times when we ask why others who aren’t as talented get noticed, make more money, or get the promotion, we are asking the wrong questions. We need a re-direct: What is my purpose? What else can I do?

“But the money, the security, the reputation!” Ego will talk to you all day about those things. Trust your heart. Ask the questions and listen to your heart. Have faith. Answers will come but only if you really want them, only if you ask the right questions, questions that the heart can answer.

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