The Question Is ...

By Chris Chittenden

We invite you to take a little time out from the hurly-burly of what you are doing today, to ask yourself this question, "Do you love your life?".

The answer may be a resounding "YES". Your answer may also be a qualified "yes" and some of you may even say, "No!". How often do you ask yourself this question? How often do you take the time to reflect on the big picture of your life? If you are like most people, the answer will be "not very often". Yet simply by asking this question, we can enhance the way we feel about life.

Human beings tend to get caught up in day to day living. On occasions, we make life decisions, such as what job we will take, where we will live and so on. In between making these decisions, we do what we do. Go to work, go to school, go to the movies, do activities with our family and friends and so forth. We are inclined to live in the everydayness of our life. By doing so, we often forget what is important to us in life and what it is about life that makes it worthwhile for us.

As part of our coaching program, we ask participants to engage in the "stillness" activity that we spoke about in channelling SUCCESS some time ago. One of the interesting things that shows up for people when they report on this exercise is how something just shows up out of the blue for them. Even though they had not given the matter any real thought before, upon reflection, they find it is important to them and deserves their attention. The space created by their stillness allows important concerns to surface.

"Do I love my life?" is a reflective question that can create a similar space for us. When we consider this question, we must consider not only what is wrong with life, but what we are grateful for in life. Often our answers bring back to us a context that has been lost in our everyday living and which puts meaning back into what we do.

In our coaching work, many people talk to us about the difficulty they have in seeing the purpose behind what they do at work every day. As Julio Olalla has said, "Coaching is a love affair with questions". We grow up through an education system and a society strongly focussed on having the answers, not asking the questions. We are often blind to what an answer can mean for people - the end of the search. When we have the answer, we stop looking. We now know how things must be. So it is with life. It is very easy to be seduced into thinking we know what we want in life and to stop looking. Very soon, we forget our answer and live in monotony.

Questions on the other hand have the potential to take us somewhere new. If we live in questions, we live in a space of constant movement. This not to say that we should not have answers for our questions. Questions demand an answer or our movement in any direction will be erratic and short lived. However, great shifts in life begin with great questions, not great answers. For example, if Sir Isaac Newton had not asked himself why the apple fell on his head, he may never have developed the concept of gravity. As with all great ideas, it began with a question. This is not to say that the questions stopped with a great idea. Newton and others continued to ask questions in this domain and over time our story about gravity shifted to what it is today and still the questions are being asked.

Questions such as "Do I love my life?" allow us to listen to life. They create the space to develop new answers that may keep us on the same track or take us down a different path. Either way, such a question re-affirms meaning for us in life. So if you want to love your life, begin with a love affair with questions and see where they take you.

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© 2003 Chris Chittenden