All of us have heard this adage. Most of us recognize that unless you know yourself first, you really can not achieve much in life. We also realize that we each have the potential to make amazing things and find lasting happiness.
And yet ....
Most of us have not even scratched the surface of knowing who we really are, let alone figure out what we have the potential to be. We are so confused that we continue to oscillate between overconfidence and low self-esteem. One minute we are filled with a definite purpose for our lives and subsequently totally deserted. How can people expect to find lasting happiness in this country?
In my search for clarity, purpose and self-growth, I came to realize that asking the right questions, sometimes in itself the answer. Here is a list of 20 questions to get started the journey of self-discovery, releasing potential and consequently trapped in finding lasting happiness.
Who are you?
1. What is one thing that makes you special and unique?
No one else on this planet quite exactly like you. For a moment, stop focusing on what you do not, what you want to be, or what other people expect from you and find out what is the one thing that you have that makes you special. Identify your "special"-ness, acknowledge, respect and make it central to how you carry yourself.
2. How do people see you?
Do people see you for who you are that special person? Do they appreciate your unique abilities? If not, why not? How can you change it?
Perhaps a quote by Henry Longfellow - "We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have done." - Have the answer? How can you bridge the gap between what you're uniquely able to be and the person you currently are?
3. If money is not an obstacle, what would you do with your time?
Writing a book? Become a singer? Grow a beautiful garden? Spend more time with your family? Take your time. Feel free to daydream. Once you have a vision in your mind, think about what is the one thing you can do right now to move one step closer to that vision. When you have a vision and begin to take action, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
4. What do you do for a living?
There is nothing profound about this question. It really is as simple as it sounds. If your answers match (or will lead you to) what your answer to the previous question, you are on the right track. If you answered "Being a writer" on top and "I'm an engineer" on this one, you need to figure out how to bridge the two. Maybe you can start a technology blog. Or series (blockbuster) adventure book about vampires engineer or engineer. Whatever. Picture it.
5. What are you thankful for?
How long do you have to think to answer that question? If you do not answer directly - if the images of family and friends, your health, your ability to see, hear, walk and talk does not come to mind immediately, you should start looking into developing an attitude of gratitude. Remember the quote - "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."
6. If you died tomorrow, you will be happy with the life you've lived?
I do not want to sound terrible, but it's true - you really can die tomorrow. Are you live well? Did you leave good memories for your children last a lifetime? Do you forgive all those who have wronged you and you have to ask forgiveness from all those who have done wrong? If you have not seen it, I would highly recommend watching the last lecture by Professor Randy Pausch.
7. What is one movie you do not mind watching over and over again? (Or you could read a book a few times?)
The human mind responds to a strong narrative, so that the story touches you the most is the one that can tell you a lot about yourself. Or one that you aspire to be like your life. What is the story that you do not mind watching / reading again and again? What is the underlying theme / premise of the story?
8. If someone made a movie of your life, what would that be like?
Everyone has a story - what is yours? Is your life story is filled with melodrama, self-pity, resentment, anger or frustration, or will the story of inner peace, happiness, love, growth, joy and transcendence? If you are happy with your answer, keep doing what you are doing. If not, quote by Maria Robinson might be able to help - "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."