“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people we will become.” Leo Babauta
It is one of the first questions we learn.
“Why, mommy?” we ask as toddlers – wanting to know, understand and see how we fit into the world around us. And while it might have served us in finding our place in the world early on, “why” can be one of the more debilitating questions we can ask ourselves. When you train to become a life coach (at least my training), the first question they tell you to avoid is “why”. As an attorney, that seemed so foreign to me because “why” was always a big part of figuring out my case or telling my story to the jury. And while I have stayed away from that question in my coaching out of respect and a basic understanding that it was just an invitation for engaging in our gloomy stories, it finally hit me this week how much that question can really keep us stuck, feeling like a victim or blaming others for our situation. This week, I sadly learned that a woman that I had the pleasure of spending three fun evenings with over the last five years died suddenly. She was 44 – my age. She was full of life, fun, loved by so many, inviting and had a killer smile that warmed up the coldest space. She had so much to live for and so much more life to live. The only words that came to mind were “it’s just so unfair.”
Often when we experience a loss, a death, a breakup or dissatisfaction we ask, “Why. Why did this happen?” As a believer that there exists a bigger truth than we can see – a universal hand – a plan, I have often tried to explain tragedy in terms of trusting the Universe or believing in something we can’t see. Maybe, we say, “it was just her time”, or “this will lead to something better”.
But, the reality is that sometimes we just have no explanation.
As a mentor once shared with me, sometimes things happen and while we may look for a bigger explanation to make sense of out of it, there is nothing that will ease our pain. When we ask why, what we are doing is looking for someone to blame and that ultimately leads to anger, frustration, or feeling like a victim. The more we ask why, the harder it is for us to receive the gifts of our current circumstances. All we can feel is pain and disappointment, leaving no room for happiness to return.
The truth is, bad things happen. Bad things happen to good people. And while it may be inevitable that we feel the unfairness or ask the why, understand that repeatedly looking for the “reason” behind our circumstances will merely leave us stuck exactly where we are.
Instead, we may want to ask ourselves “how can I use this circumstance to empower me?” or “what can I learn from this circumstance” or “what is the wisdom or lesson available to me now?”
Each of these questions enables us to move forward and open a door to where everything we want awaits us: prosperity, love, peace and yes, happiness. And despite the injustice of it all may remain in the form of pain, we gain access to something bigger – an opportunity to grow and evolve.
When I look back over this past week, I am deeply saddened by unimaginable loss, but am also awestruck at the lessons and legacy one person can leave behind for all of us to carry. Instead of asking why, when I asked what is the lesson or wisdom available, I discovered that a simple smile can really change lives. I learned that opening your heart and extending your hand to someone else is never forgotten and can make a difference that affects more lives than you can even see. Instead of spiraling into an unanswerable question, I found myself rising up to the occasion this past week – wanting to be better and embody the qualities this beautiful woman so generously shared with others. I smiled more at others. I shared how I feel and I tried to help where I could. I also learned to embrace more deeply my own unique qualities and focus on the things that make me happy. And while the lesson of “why” resulted from something terribly tragic, it is important to remember that even when we deal with the small stuff, “why” can really rob us from our destiny and our right to be happy.
So, as you travel forward this week (and beyond), simply notice when and how you fall into the spiral of “why”.
Each time you become aware of your internal dialog, simply shift and ask yourself any of the following questions:
- What lesson or wisdom is available
forme from this circumstance?
- How can I look at this differently?
- How can I use this circumstance to empower or change me?
- What am I willing to do differently now?
As someone recently shared with me, each time we find possibility in the dark, we allow the canvas of opportunity and possibility to be cleared for something new.
Are you ready to find your happiness?
Sometimes, happiness feels just beyond our reach. I know, I lived so much of my life feeling like happiness belonged to others, was just around the corner or had to be deserved. But, it doesn't have to be that way. Happiness is all of our right. If you are ready to make a real change toward long lasting happiness, join me for a free discovery session!
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