I recently went on a kick and checked out every book in the local library by Wendy Watson Nelson, President Nelson’s wife. I found a beautiful and insightful book called Change Your Questions Change Your Life. It’s life coaching in an eye-catching coffee table book. I ordered it for myself immediately and recommend it to you.
You can tell the premise of the book from the title, and as a life coach, that is what I strive to do – to ask questions that will allow you to change your life. Sister Nelson explains, “Great questions can motivate us to change because they invite us to reflect. They help us to see some part of ourselves or others or a situation we’ve never been able to see before!” (p. 6)
When we choose to receive any ordinance, what happens? We are asked questions. Before we get baptized, we are asked questions. Before we go to the temple, we are asked questions. Look at Alma chapter 5. As Alma is preaching to the people who belong to the church, he asks many, many questions. Each of these opportunities to answer questions “invite us to reflect upon our standing before the Lord and increase our desire to change and to be better – all through the use of great questions!” (p. 7)
Are you aware of the questions you are asking yourself daily? Are your questions encouraging or discouraging you? Do you ask yourself, why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I even get ahead? Why do I always have to be the one to get this done? Why don’t my family members help out? Why don’t I get my goals accomplished?
Do any of those questions help you? What if you change those questions?
Would any of these be more useful questions? What can I do to learn from this experience? How have I seen the hand of the Lord in my life or my children’s lives today? What does the Lord want me to see in this situation? How can this situation help me? What one thing can I do today that will move me towards a solution? Am I sacrificing my happiness by holding on to a perceived problem?
With better questions, you get better answers, and you can “un-stick” your brain and allow it to look for better solutions. Your brain is created to answer questions. It always looks for a solution to whatever problem you pose to it, so offer your mind better questions.
Are the questions you ask others lifting them up or putting them down? Do you ask your children, your spouse, your co-workers, your friends, why did you do this again? Why don’t you listen? Why are you always late? Don’t you care how I feel? Why didn’t anyone clean up? Why can’t we communicate better?
Those questions invite defensiveness. They direct you and the person to whom you are speaking to look at the negative and instinctively defend it.
What if instead, you asked questions like: How could we work together to make sure this doesn’t happen again? How can I help you in this situation? What if this doesn’t have to be a problem at all? Or ask yourself, how would I react differently to this situation if I assumed the best instead of the worst? Is my reaction part of the problem? How can I show more love in this situation?
Again, different questions provide different answers, and that can change the whole focus and outcome of a conversation – whether it be a conversation in your head or with another person.
Two questions are probably more important than all others. Jesus posed a question to Peter, and it is a question we all must answer, “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16). We, too, must decide who we think Jesus is.
The other question that we each need to answer is, “Who am I?” There are so many labels we can give ourselves. We need to choose which we will claim as our identity. We learn so simply and early in Primary that “I am a Child of God,” and as the Young Women’s theme so beautifully states, “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents.” You can choose to claim that as your true identity.
These two questions are profound in determining how we live our lives. The questions we ask others are important because they can affect our relationships in positive or negative ways. Questions we ask ourselves affect the way we face our days. There are many vital questions in life, and our brains want to seek answers. Let’s do our best to improve the quality of the questions we allow our minds to contemplate. As Sister Nelson put it, “If you want to change your life, change your questions! If you want a great life, ask great questions!” (p. 12-13)
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