I love questions. I love asking people questions, hearing their stories, getting to the heart of the matter. Questions help us get to know not only those around us but ourselves better. When we ask ourselves questions and listen for the answer we can learn amazing things about ourselves, our dreams and our passions. The key to questions is having the patience to listen for the answer. Sometime the answer gets blurted out in an instant. Sometimes it take gets stuck in our brain and takes awhile to reveal itself. Sometimes the answer is hidden in a long, story and we have to dig deep through the story to hear what is buried there.
Once a week I am going to ask a question on this blog. A question that will make you think, ponder and listen. I encourage you to ask yourself the question, but also ask those around you–it could be your nearest and dearest or it could be the checkout clerk at the gas station. Be curious. Be patient. See what emerges.
One of my favorite questions (and I am sure you have heard it before, especially if you have worked with me) is: If you only had a short time to live–what would you change in your life? I love this question because it can offer inspiration for how we might want to changes our lives. In reality, whatever you would do differently if you knew you were going to die, you should implement now. For example, if someone said they would travel to Paris, maybe they should look into taking that trip, saving money, researching Paris , etc. Or maybe they want to travel to Paris to see more art, so they should be adding more local art to their life. This question, if we are patient and curious about the answer, can provide a lot of clues about what we value and potentially reveal how truly stuck we feel in our lives. This question, can offer some options for how we can better live a life that has full of joy and passion.
Recently, this question took new meaning to me. A friend of mine has been diagnosed with cancer and given 6-8 months to live. A few weeks ago, we were discussing this question and how she viewed it differently now that she has been given a definitive deadline to her life. I was telling her that this question is used to inspire people in making their lives more meaningful. After pondering the question for a while, my friend looked at me and basically shared that before the diagnosis she would have picked travel because that is what she thought she should do with her time. But now that she knows her time is limited she real wants to be near her home and enjoy the routine tasks of her life. She wants to spend as much time with her family and friends and do the every day aspects of life, laundry, lunch with friends, family dinners and running errands.
I have asked many people this question, but never someone who really knew she had a short time to live. Her answer was simple and inspiring: I would enjoy more routine tasks more–that is what she would do differently. Not travel, spend all her money, buy a red sports car, fly in a hot air ballon, just be with her family and enjoy the chance to engage in routine every day tasks. It reminds me of the picking more daisies post from a few months ago.
After talking with my friend I have since changed the phrasing of the question to be. If you had a short time to live: How would your priorities change? What would you do differently? What would you pay more attention to?
Maybe to add more passion and joy in our lives we don’t need to add more to it–maybe we just need to get clear about what it is we enjoy and value about our lives and appreciate it.