Questions are beautiful things. To some extent, they can be more important than the answers they elicit. This especially rings true when asking yourself questions to help understand who you are. Obviously, the answers matter. But what matters even more is that you're thinking about it. You've planted that seed in your head, and you've sent your mind on a little journey of self-reflection. You may come up with one answer, no answer, or 100 answers. They neither have to be right or wrong, nor do they have to be concrete. They can even change by the hour or the day.
Again, it just matters that you're asking. You're acknowledging the importance of the question's subject and you're drawing attention to that area of your life. One of the best ways to conduct a healthy self check-up is to have that little conversation with yourself and go over some of those essential talking points. Best case scenario? You're led to more questions. By thinking about those answers, you're allowing yourself to really explore different perspectives to help inform who you are and if you are where to need to be on a physical and mental scale. So to start, here are some fundamental questions you should be asking yourself every day.
1. What Do I Want Out Of Today?
This is one of the first things that should cross your mind before getting out of bed in the morning. Set that goal, visualize it, and store it in the back pocket of your mind to carry with you throughout the day as a reminder. Even if you don't really know what you want when it comes to those scary, big-picture things, it helps to start by picturing the type of day you want to have. As Frank Niles pointed out for The Huffington Post, using visualization can help you achieve your goals. Start small, and take it day by day.
Because you should be living each day with intention. Maybe you want today to be productive, and to finally cross those things off your list. Or that nostalgic bug bit you and you're feelin' some quality reconnecting time. Perfectly fine if all you want is to clear your head and do absolutely nothing — just channel that energy you wake up with to make it a day you want to have.
2. What Do I Consider In/Out Of My Control?
Mulling over this may actually help you realize just how in control those things you consider out of your control actually are. Or at least, it'll help you think of a creative work-around. Because there are things that will always be way bigger than us. As pointed out on Greatist, the art is in letting go of those things out of our power anyway, and mastering the things we can control. So to do so, it's important to evaluate those things and ask yourself what they are every day. Your answers may just change.
3. What Is Holding Me Back?
Think of what's keeping you from getting what you want, who you want to be, where you want to go, etc. Asking this will help draw attention to the issue and encourage a solution. Because in order to overcome it, you have to know your barrier. Certified trainer and author Shari Bench told Reliable Plant that a lot of the times, that barrier that holds you back is yourself. Even if it's an external factor, by allowing it to stop you, you're just helping it get in your way. Bench offered several ways you can eliminate some of those setbacks — from eliminating self-justifications to evaluating your relationships.
4. What Am I Grateful For?
Remember those things that make you lucky and just appreciative to be alive. This will help put things into perspective. When you think of all those things that make your life great, you'll see how little room there is for all the negative things that have been weighing you down. They have no place to waste space in your head. By feeling grateful every day, you become emotionally content and encourage overall lightheartedness rather than fear, as Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast said in his inspiring TED talk on being grateful. Hone in on the things you have that are valuable to you and remember that they're all yours.
5. What Made Me Happy Today?
It's so important to take note of all the positive. Not only are you remembering it and experiencing it again, but it'll help you continue to attract those things in your life. In fact, a Harvard study found that people who wrote down good things that happened to them every week showed significant boosts in happiness. Because by focusing on the positive, you remember reasons to be glad, just as with the things for which you are grateful. So ask yourself. And let that big 'ole smile happen. Because it will.
6. What Bothered Me Today?
Try thinking about those things throughout the day that made it a little less great. Consider how often they occur and when they happen. Unlike the things that made you happy, thinking about the annoying things obviously isn't as fun. But choosing to ignore and run away from your problems also isn't helpful. How else can you work out a way to solve them?
We should tune in to the painful feelings just as much as the good ones. Jennifer Kunst Ph.D. told Psychology Today that we need our feelings in order to find satisfaction, meaning, and pleasure in life. Tapping into the whole spectrum a little bit each day will make that relationship with ourselves so much better.
7. What/Who Is Important To Me?
Really take the time to soak in all that matters to you. Those things that did bother you will become that much smaller. Reminding yourself of what and who you really value every day will help keep you focused on maintaining them in your life. As Debra Smouse pointed out for TIny Buddha, identifying your values is so important because they are who you are, not who you think you should be/who you think you should be with. It's an important question that will give you that honest reminder you may need, for what it is in your life that you should be paying a little more attention to.
8. What Am I Doing Better?
From last year, last week, even yesterday. You are always improving. And especially when we've set these gigantic, long-term goals for ourselves, any trace of progress can be hard to see, which can be discouraging. According to a Harvard Business Review study on the power of small wins, ordinary, incremental progress can increase people’s engagement in work and their happiness during the workday. So don't discount the minor milestones.
9. The Most Important Follow Up Question: Why?
This is kind of like one of those dreaded "explain your answer" prompts on all those tests in school. Or when that five-year-old kid keeps asking us "why" after we've answered all 20 of their previous questions. We don't like it because it challenges us to think more, and sometimes we just don't have a clear answer. And according to Psychology Today, humans don't like not knowing things. Makes sense. But the thinking process it takes us on is so valuable.
Some of the best answers can be those next questions. You know? ...OK enough existential angsty musings for one day. I think it's time to go and ask myself why I still haven't cleaned my sad excuse of a room right now.