Here we are 9 day's into a brand new year! Like many, I have been taking time to reflect on the year past and to ponder what may come in the year ahead. I'm not really one for the standard "New Years Resolution", but like many others I hope for growth and happiness on the path forward. As I think about where I'd like to see change or growth in my life I understand that all of the things I come up with ultimately will require action and awareness to make them happen. This is a pretty general concept and there are many approaches for how to put it into practice. What I'm planning to share is an approach I find useful in continuously checking in on how I am doing with making choices and giving my energy to the things that keep me moving in the right direction on this path of happiness and growth.
At any given moment you can ask yourself three questions that will help you make a more skillful decision about whether or not what you're doing is moving you in the direction you wish to be going. I tend to find these questions especially useful if I am feeling low on steam, frustrated, confused, or even occasionally, resentful.
The questions I visit over and over again and use kind of like an explorer would use a compass are;
What am I doing?
Why am I doing it?
How am I doing it?
The first one is usually pretty easy, hopefully (haha). It's the second two that serve as the practice of self inquiry that will continue to foster your growth and happiness. I will expand a little on how I use these questions. Here's an example of a time I've used it; while cooking dinner after a long day when I'm exhausted and know that I still have 10 other things to do before bed. Now, cooking is generally something I really like to do, but every once in a while I feel like it's a huge burden. Figuring out day after day what I will feed my family which contains a couple of somewhat picky children, shopping for the ingredients, prepping, cooking, serving, cleaning up....you know the drill. Obviously feeling burdened is not something we relate with happiness, so I ask myself;
What Am I doing? "Cooking dinner"
Why am I doing it? The obvious first answer is, because I need to feed my family. But I encourage you to dig deeper than the first generic response that comes to ming. There is more there, so really ask yourself "why am I doing it?; For me it's also because I like to make sure they are all well nourished, and because I like when we all sit down together to a home cooked meal.
How am I doing it? This is important because how you're doing something makes a huge difference in what comes from it. Are you doing it with frustration, resentment, without much care, etc. Or are you doing it with gratitude that you are able to and have the means to feed your family a nourishing home cooked meal. Thankful that you have this time with your family to share about your day and maybe even share some laughs and smiles together.
These questions can be applied to just about anything as you are moving through your days. Once you've asked yourself these questions you can use the information you came up with to make more skillful choices about what you will do moving forward. If you didn't like the answers maybe you should consider whether or not what you are giving your energy too is something that is serving you well or not? Is it moving you in the direction you want to be going with your life?