Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about our ability to be happy in any given circumstance (or we devalue and dismiss that possibility altogether). Sometimes, though, asking the right questions can bring joy to the surface and peace to the situation faster than we could imagine.
“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Checking in with yourself is an emotionally intelligent ritual—you’ll learn a lot about yourself and about the world when you remain curious and open to the answers. Questions are fantastic tools to strengthen self-awareness and harness your unlimited potential to be happy.
The following questions are part of a modified technique inspired by Ezra Bayda’s book, Beyond Happiness, which was shared here by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. I’m sharing this exercise with you because I’ve had success with it in my personal experiences.
The questions posed in this post are simple, but their simplicity may be exactly why they work.
You can write the questions and answers down on paper to clarify your thoughts and solidify the messages. You can carry around the written questions, or keep them in your phone, as prompts throughout the day. If you feel so inclined, you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you to check in with your emotional state.
Remember: The only way this exercise will work for you is if you actually ask the questions, sit with them, and answer them honestly. Stay transparent and remain open.
4 Questions to Ask to Be Happy and Stay Happy
1. “Am I Happy?”
Right now in this moment, are you happy?
If the answer is “yes,” then there’s no need to continue with the questions. Congratulations!
If the answer is “no,” move on to question #2.
2. “What obstacle is in my way to being happy?”
What’s preventing you from experiencing joy right now?
For example, you may be frustrated that you’re not getting enough work done. I struggle with this thought that “there’s not enough time to get all the things I want to get done, done. I keep getting distracted.” The obstacle to happiness, in this case, is your resistance to letting go of this belief that there’s “so much to do, so little time.”
Most things, I’ve found, It’s actually the fear of not being good enough coming to the surface.
Recognize your obstacle (your resistance), whatever it may be, without blame or judgment. Just observe the answer and acknowledge its presence. Awareness is the first step on the path of moving through and beyond your obstacles.
Move on to question #3.
3. “Can I accept this?”
Can you accept this obstacle?
Can you accept that your to-do list is a bit longer than you’d like? Can you accept that you haven’t accomplished as much as you had hoped to? Can you accept that you’ve devoted time to other needs or whims?
This is where miracles happen, it seems, because if you can accept something rather than complain about it, you’ve successfully changed your mind. You’ve taken the power out of the obstacle and placed it back in your perspective. That shift is a miracle.
Things may be the same outside of you, but your answer to this question has the power to change your internal world. Things haven’t changed, but you have changed. Again, this is the miracle.
If your answer is “no, I cannot accept this,” ask one more question…
4. “What am I going to do about it?”
If you can’t accept what’s going on, take a deep breath and use your power of choice to find a solution. If things can be changed, you are blessed with the ability to change them. Great!
In the example I proposed, you could leave your phone in the other room while you work to lighten the distractions. Make a list of your top priorities, work on one task at a time, and cross each task off your list once it’s completed.
Repeat affirmations like “I am working on what I’m meant to be working on. I surrender harsh expectations and trust the timing of everything.”
If things cannot be changed, affirm that you are blessed with the ability to accept them. If there is nothing you can do to change the circumstances outside of you, you must be willing to change your beliefs about it. This is possible.
You may also enjoy:
- The SODA method for stress-relief
- The 4-7-8 breathing exercise
- This one-minute mindfulness meditation
- This 16-second meditation
If you try this question-focused technique, tell me about your experience. Do you have any other practices that help you pull yourself out of a stressful state of mind? How do you reconnect with joy?
Please share your insights, practices, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share these questions with someone who might appreciate the exercise.