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Smart Questions That Will Super Charge Your Life

Smart Questions That Will Super Charge Your Life

    One of the most effective ways to achieve success is to ask yourself the right questions. When we ask ourselves a question, we always come up with an answer. Ask yourself “Why does this always happen to me,” and you’ll get an answer. But if you ask yourself “How can I have a great day today,” you’ll also get an answer. Which answer is going to empower you more? You got it. So why not ask yourself smart questions that will make you happier, more confident, more powerful, and more successful?

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    The world moves fast, our many interests are constantly being seduced by TV, the Web, and the omnipotent presence of marketing. Here are some questions you can use to keep you on the rails that lead to success.

    How to Use Smart Questions

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    My recommendation is to take your favorite 5-10 questions from this list, write them down and post them near your desk, your bathroom mirror, the visor in your car and on the back of your cellphone. Pretty soon you’ll have them memorized and you’ll find yourself using these questions to filter out the wheat from the chaff.

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    The other way to use these questions is to take one question per day or per week. Write it down on a few yellow stickes and place them where you will see them all day long: by your bed, in the bathroom, in your car, at your desk and so on. Do this and watch the magic unfold!

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    Questions:

    1. What do I want to accomplish today?
    2. What is the most important thing I need to do today? (Do it first!)
    3. Is this the best use of my time right now?
    4. What am I trying to accomplish right now?
    5. What can I cross off my list by deleting or delegating? What is not important?
    6. What can I do right now to take the next leap instead of the next step?
    7. Who can I learn from today?
    8. Who can I thank today?
    9. What am I grateful for?
    10. How can I eliminate distractions right now?
    11. What are my top 3 current goals?
    12. What is most important to me in life?
    13. If the my world was going to end within one year, what would I be doing right now?
    14. What will I do today towards my major goals?
    15. What action can I take instead of worry right now?
    16. Who should I thank today?
    17. Who needs some love today?
    18. How can I be a kinder person today?
    19. How can I have more compassion today?
    20. What can I do right now to release negative energy in a positive way?
    21. What can I do to let go of my anger?
    22. How can I put worry on hold right now?
    23. How can I choose happiness right now?
    24. What can I do to slow down today?
    25. What am I learning right now?
    26. What beneficial routines can I start today?
    27. What will I do, see, explore, or experience today that is new?
    28. How and with whom can I partner today to make 1+1=3?
    29. How can I be more compassionate today?
    30. What will I celebrate today?
    31. Where did I find Joy today?
    32. What did I learn today?
    33. How will I “pay it forward” today?
    34. How will I make today great? How do I define great?
    35. What can I stop holding/clinging to help me break free?
    36. How can I let go with peace?
    37. Who can I help today?
    38. How can I add Peace to the world today?
    39. What’s the most powerful thing I can do right now, today to increase my business?
    40. What have I been avoiding that I can do today?

    What are your favorite empowering questions? Please share!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are Ultimate Goal Setting Guide, How to Write a Book in 60 Days or Less, Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?, and How to Be a Great Salesperson.

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    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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