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  • How to Start Asking Better Questions

    How to Start Asking Better Questions

    October 22, 2019 by

    Rather than focusing on answers it might help instead to start asking different questions. It’s human nature to be curious. Children start learning about the world by observing and asking questions, first about simple facts, then because they want some further explanations.  Research shows that a child asks about 40,000 questions between the ages of two and five. Adults may tire of the incessant (and often challenging) ‘whys’ but it’s hard not to appreciate the exploring and inquisitive mind, eager to fill in the gaps in its knowledge base.  As children grow up, however, curiosity levels decrease and the questions ease off. And, as they start manifesting independence of thoughts, young adults can even stop asking questions. Why do they hold back? It may be over confidence in their own knowledge but it could just as easily be the opposite – they may believe they’ll ask the ‘wrong’ question. If they accept the world they live in just as it is, however, or as they’ve been told, it’s less likely they’ll look for ways to improve it.  Questions are the driving force behind human progress and challenging ideas, assumptions and facts helps to drive creativity. It also stimulates the mind and opens it to fresh approaches. If a person wants to change the way they think, they first need to consider reframing the way they see the world by asking the (right) question.  The Art of Asking Effective Questions  If you ask pertinent, searching questions, the chances are you’ll receive more rewarding, informative answers. Yet questioning has become something of a lost art, which is a shame as it’s an important skill that deserves recognition. The style of question might differ – a factual request that requires only a short answer; a probing insight that demands a fuller explanation; a rhetorical statement to provoke reflection – but it is vital for effective communication. It helps to avoid misunderstanding and misinterpretation, it deepens trust, steers the conversation and keep people engaged. It’s a powerful tool centered around careful word choice, tone of voice and body language. The ability, for example, to extract critical information from others can depend on whether questions are posed in a sensitive or aggressive manner. The trick is knowing when to adopt which tone and stance.  What if the focus has been misdirected? What if, rather than trying to discover an answer, solution or truth, the attention might have been better placed on the question itself? But not just any question – a purposeful one that, while it might not lead to an answer, is likely to provide food for thought and generate more, yes, questions. Because sometimes asking questions is more important than finding answers. Questions without Answers What if there’s no definitive answer? Do you see a mystery that can’t be solved or a fascinating puzzle to put together? Forsome, it proves the limitation of human knowledge, for others, it opens the door to more possibilities, leading to wider questions. And while it may not be possible to explain every phenomenon that doesn’t prevent the exploration of ideas in a philosophical sense. But how does one learn how to think instead of what to think?  Philosophical practice can be done the Socratic way: formulate a clear question, one deceptively simple but with broad implications, on any topic that interests you, then begin the debate (in a group or with yourself), with rounds of arguments and counterarguments, examining the validity of viewpoints with reasoning and logic.  The beauty of the game is that there is no winner. It’s a meaningful journey to an inaccessible truth as the participants reach different possible conclusions. And it’s a method that ‘questions a question’ and opens the mind to fresh perspectives and concepts and new ways of thinking and being. This enriching exercise can develop one’s ability to question and argue, enhance problem-solving capacities, bring improved common sense (maybe even wisdom) and, ultimately, give a sense of direction in life. It’s time to question everything. *Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission should you choose to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my link. Love this? Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter!

  • How to Deal with Annoyance

    How to Deal with Annoyance

    October 17, 2019 by

    Ways to deal with the faded hues of anger. I’m learning about anger as a color in the palette of human emotions. I, like so many of us, have taken a form of antidepressant for the last three years of my life. Currently I’m medicine free, after I realized that my sadness and depression is a result of mostly external factors. In my crusade not to be numb to the world and my emotions, I’m learning that it’s important to acknowledge annoyance, and with acknowledgement comes the chance of a healthy, nurturing release. To me this is vital, because anger is huge and scary. It’s storm-massed clouds and hearts ripped raw – tragedy, revenge, a ruin of lives.  Yet, while all of that is important, what about anger’s more faded hues? For here is where I struggle, with the lesser forms of rage: being annoyed, irritable, or just a bit moody. They’re a type of anger that seems unworthy. It’s the groan over traffic in the afternoon and the food you ordered not coming out hot. It’s staring coldly at the cashier – the only cashier attempting to attend a family at Starbucks that doesn’t quite speak english and constantly adds to their ticket because of their kids incessant whine.  It’s really an insignificant emotion, and one I don’t like to admit to. Yet I can’t deny that, despite my pure intentions, I get annoyed. I’ve been pissed at early morning alarms or anyone making random noises. Yet, once the irritation has left me, I feel bad about this over-the-top reaction. I should never grumble at the dents in my day, when big, rage-inducing injustices are happening everywhere. All the same, annoyance appears to be a normal, human reaction.  I don’t know anyone that can honestly say they’ve never been grumpy, unreasonable, or irritated. So here’s a thought: perhaps, just as with anger, I can learn to accept and embrace being annoyed. Maybe that would be more helpful than adding it to an ever-expanding list of things not to do.  Perhaps, in fact, annoyance is huge. Maybe it, too, could be storm-massed clouds and hearts ripped raw – except with annoyance, the drama of rage is parsed into manageable flashpoints of irritation, directed away from its truest target, whatever that might be. Anger at world-shattering injustices or personal tragedy simmers in sighs, groans and derisive sniffs. Maybe if people didn’t get annoyed, their emotions would be too hot to handle. Annoyance could be a sign, not that someone is a bad human, but that they have a deep, bubbling passion that needs to be freed.  I’ve made a decision. I’m going to acknowledge and embrace my inner-grouch and at the same time recognize the signal it’s sending me – to healthily release the anger it represents. That dark muttering over slow drivers or lost keys is the outward expression of a secret storm, massing clouds behind what seems to be another drizzly day.  TIPS FOR EMBRACING YOUR INNER-GROUCH When safe to do so, sing loudly, at the top of your voice, without fretting over your tunefulness.  Go to a yoga class where chanting forms a core part of the practice.  Climb an empty hillside and shout into the wind.  Do an intense physical workout that allows annoyance to have an appropriate outlet.  Try kickboxing or any form of martial arts to express rage in a healthy way. Recognize flashpoints of annoyance and accept them as a part of being human. They’re broken up pieces of rage, expressed in a minor key. Love this? Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter!

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