Ask the right question

Why asking better questions is the perfect antidote when you're feeling flat, fat and uninspired.

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I met up with two of my friends last night and we were all tired - and dare I say it, a bit whingey. 'I'm stuck in my job, I've got this huge mortgage. What's the point?' one said. The other friend was struggling in her marriage. 'I don't know how to re-light the spark. What if it's gone for good?' She actually cried into her soup. I was moaning about feeling bloated and listless. Yes, we were a real barrel of laughs.

Normally, we get together and we're quite the power-house. We feed off each other's energy and ideas. My two friends are very dynamic women and I can be too if I put my mind to it. But last night? We had a communal flat battery and had lost the metaphorical car keys. We all felt trapped, stuck in old patterns, asking the same old questions and getting the same listless answers.

As I made my way home, I pulled out some proofs of a new book from Bloombury - A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry To Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger. Just the title made me realise how my friends and I had been asking questions that would take us in a negative spiral - why me? why did this have to happen? what's the use?

Want to become unstuck, asks Berger? Ask more beautiful questions.

As my train trundled home, I felt the gloom lift as I read and started to answer some slightly more empowering questions than I'd been asking all evening.

  • What is important to me?
  • What has worked for me before - and how can I bring more of that into my life now?
  • What did I love doing as a child?
  • What makes me feel most alive?
  • What if I make one small change?
  • Why do it the same, old way?

To ask better questions:

Suzy Walker

Editor of Psychologies, Psychologies

I am proud to be editor of Psychologies, a magazine that champions, challenges and coaches us to think differently so we can solve our own problems and create a life that nourishes us. Author of Making The Big Leap and The Big Peace, Suzy believes that the secret to happiness is living life to the full right here, right now, committing to a few goals now and again and taking Oscar, the Psychologies dog for a walk round the field when it all gets a bit too much.


Go to the profile of Emily Dubberley
over 7 years ago
Agree entirely - I often use 'what would childhood me think of what I'm doing' as a way to feel inspired/sift through priorities and work out what is most important to me (and have now made all my childhood dreams come true - except for getting a Lego Pirate Ship and living in a treehouse, but one day...) I also use the question 'Am I enjoying myself right now?' - if the answer is yes, it gives me a lift. If the answer is no, the next question is 'what do I need to do to change that?' (and the answer is usually something as simple as do the annoying chore/task that's hanging over me - which is never as bad to do as to think about - eat, get exercise, sleep, do some gardening or phone a friend - along with play of all kinds, as your fab issue explored) And 'What are my happiest memories' has been handy too - it made me realise that most of my favourite moments have involved facing fears, which helps make life a bit less intimidating hen things feel scary. Making an inverse bucket list, of the things I'm happiest I've experienced in my life was also useful/uplifting - along with a '40 things to do when I'm 40' list (stemming from the question, 'What is most important in my life/what do I want more of?')
Go to the profile of Agatha Penney
over 6 years ago
What a valid point you have raised, asking the right questions certainly makes the difference and stimulates change. I cannot agree with it more after my first ever NLP training, which is all about communication and the right questions! :-)