What if I told you that a question could instantly change your day and you don’t even have to know the answer. Would you think I am crazy?
Think about what your day involves. What’s your gut feeling about it? Monotony? Dread? Anticipation? Satisfaction? Apathy? Excitement? For most of us, excitement isn’t our go to feeling when we go to work in the morning, or when facing a weekend of running around.
Before I even get into it, let me run through these life changing questions. See what happens in your brain when you start thinking them in relation to what the day ahead of you entails.
How can this be fun?
What do I WANT today to look like?
How can I MacGyver this situation to make it successful? (You’re welcome for the 80’s TV reference)
What other stories could I tell (if I let go of the one saying they are trying to ruin my life)?
Why do I WANT to do this?
How can I make someone’s life better today?
How can I schedule a day that is super productive AND kind to myself?
What am I thinking about how today is going to be? Does this even have to be true?
If you read through these quickly without really stopping to think about your day, go back and ask yourself each one again.
Don’t just read them, ask them. Of yourself.
No really. Read them again. How can my day be fun? Why do I WANT to run these errands, or clean my house, or pay these bills?
Our brains function as efficiently as possible. In an effort to expend as little energy necessary, we skew towards doing things by default, without any extra thinking. This is fine if we’re talking about brushing our teeth but what about enjoying our day to day life? Default doesn’t usually equal satisfaction, or fun, or awesome. Default equals boring (at best).
So what happens when we take a minute to ask ourselves one of the questions above?
When we take a minute to be intentional instead of functioning on autopilot?
The brain gets shocked into movement, into problem solving mode. Just by asking a question, your brain starts to try and solve for the answer. It changes the trajectory from bored to engaged, from lack of control to control (and come on, who doesn’t like to be in control).
If we want something more than what default gives, then we need to take control and direct our brains towards working on solutions that will make us feel not only better, but potentially great. We don’t even need to know the answer. It’s like my mom with the game bananagrams, once she gets going, there is no stopping her. Just pose the question and “boom”, we’re off to the races.
Don’t believe me? There is one way to find out. Try it. When you get to work, ask yourself, “how can this be fun?” And when your gut response is “it can’t”, shut that down as fast as you would a teenager saying they can’t take out the garbage. Nonsense.
Of course it can.
Maybe write the question on the top of your daily schedule, or as a screensaver on your phone.
And if it is a tough situation, an emotional situation, ask “what other story could I tell.” Here’s an example. We were driving across the country with our kids when our brand new platform hitch, the kind that attaches to the back of the car, fell off, (well, half-way off) and dragged along route 80.
Yes, it was loaded with tons of stuff. After an incredibly stressful night of trying to get the piece all the way off the car, and then strap the whole contraption to the roof without breaking the glass of the sunroof (Macgyver style), we spent the next week trying to get in touch with our mechanic who had installed it. I was so mad, I knew for a fact he was ignoring our calls, afraid to face whatever error had been made. We left forceful messages, nice messages, pleading messages (I’m not sure what we thought he would do for us when he was in NJ and we were in Wisconsin but whatever, it seemed reasonable at the time.)
I wish I had known this strategy then and I had considered some other option of a story than the one of him doing something wrong and then knowingly ignoring our suffering.
We did ultimately hear from him. No joke, he had been struck by lightning and was in the hospital. STRUCK BY LIGHTNING… and he called us... from his hospital bed.
So that was my life lesson to always consider other stories, even the ridiculous ones may actually be true. If I had even considered that there may be another answer than outright malice toward us, I could have appropriately withheld my misplaced aggravation. I could have felt better. Asking the question “what other story could I tell” could have seriously helped me out, not with the hitch but with how I felt.
I could go on and on (although nothing tops a struck by lightning story). Try this approach. Stop living by default just because and start setting an intention for the day by asking a question that will point your brain in the way you want it to go. It works for big crises and small upgrades.
You don’t have to accept your factory default of “how am I going to survive today?”
Ask a better question and you will definitely
get a better answer.
Find this helpful? Just image what we could do if we put our heads together! Click here to schedule a brainstorming session to help you stop living by default