An Empowering Question

I asked my daughter the question, “How are you feeling today?” She’d had an upset with a friend the night before so it seemed like a normal question for me to ask her the next day. But I started thinking: there is a more empowering question I could ask her, and I felt my next blog post coming on.

“How are you feeling today?” It seems like a nice, logical question to ask someone; a way to connect, check in, perhaps gather information. However, a more empowering question might be: “What are you thinking today?”

I’ve heard the “thought leaders” of the world say that “our thoughts create our perception”. Also, they explain that what we think causes our feelings. So, if we base how we are on how we are feeling, maybe that has us at a disadvantage. Which of the two questions allow us to be in touch with a deeper sense of ourselves?

The question, “What are you thinking today?”, can give us better information and help the person we are talking to notice their thinking in that moment. Then they can choose to think something else if they realize their thoughts in that moment are not serving them well. It comes down to being responsible for choosing our own thoughts and for producing our own peace and happiness. Having a sense of well-being is not outside ourselves, nor dependent on someone else or a different circumstance. It’s within our control. How do we know a thought is not serving us, though? The thought leaders say, we can tell by how we feel in our body. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever feel sad or mad. But, we can let the feelings run through us; they won’t stay “stuck” in us for days, months or even years, if we stop choosing the same thought over and over again. We have the ability to have a different thought when we choose to. We can turn a thought like, “I can’t believe he said that to me, what is his problem!” into, “He said what he said, it doesn’t make it true and I’m not going to let it bother me, I’m fine.”

That more empowering question, “What are you thinking today?”, allows us more presence. Harvard brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor says, “We all control our thoughts, we are not our thoughts and if you don’t think it, it doesn’t exist”. Shakespeare similarly said, “There is nothing neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

If our conversations stopped revolving around our feelings and more around our thinking, it could produce more peace and happiness. Jill Bolte Taylor explains that “when you pay attention to the circuitry you are running, and interact with people differently, the rules change and the game changes, it demands change.” I think I will put this to the test the next time I catch myself asking someone how they feel.