At some point over the last few months, I decided to not have fun.
I don't know if it was the aftermath of several back-to-back work events, moving to a new home, an extraordinary and unexpected tax bill, pouring myself into writing a new book, or saying "I do" and settling into a new life. But at some point, I unconsciously decided to get serious.
As if I wouldn't do these things if I allowed myself to be happy in the meantime. As if my seriousness would make me more efficient, more successful, better at getting-shit-done. Somewhere along the line, I fell into my old habit of living life as one never-ending checklist and seeing each day as the hamster wheel that gets me no closer to what I'm truly wanting.
I forgot to ask myself my usual daily questions and instead began my day with the most perfect question for creating depression:
What else needs to get done?
(Other greatest hits in this category include:
How am I going to get through this?
When will this be over?
Why isn't this getting better?)
Questions like these will speedily and reliably deteriorate any sense of joy... even if you do have a great life. My life is truly blessed in every way, but a couple doses of a crappy question will suck the joy right out of any existence. Mine or yours.
Of course, I didn't realize that I was doing this. It took a mini-half-pigeon-breakdown in last week's yoga class for me to recognize how sad I actually was and what I cruel slave driver I had been to myself. It took an honest inventory of how I really felt to see that I didn't want to feel joy because some part of me knew it would be taken away (by Mean-Meadow) - as if it was better to keep joy at arm's length.
I had forgotten that there's a better way. I had forgotten the power of the primary question, essential questions that shape our lives. Without a disciplined practice, it's easy to allow shitty primary questions to run the show - we're human and they creep up on us.
So I'm on Day 8 of asking a better question, and creating a better life. The results have been immediate and incredible. These are a few of my favorites questions:
What is going to be fun today?
How will I surprise myself today?
How can I amaze myself today?
How can I wake up even more fully into my life?
These questions can transform even the dullest life into something magical and full of vitality.
When we ask these types of questions, we can feel the transformation instantly. We feel the tension drain out of our bodies. We feel our spines upright themselves and our hearts begin to point toward joy like a sunflower following the path of the sun. These courageous questions are meant to transmute us, to infuse our lives with joy.
Take a moment to listen to your mind. Listen to the question that is guiding your day. Look at the kind of answers and the life that is created in its wake. If your days have been dull, find a better question and watch what happens.
Choose to practice joy.
Ask a better question. Create a better life.