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28 Powerful Questions for a Happy Life

On June 13, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

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“Keep your head clear. It doesn’t matter how bright the path is if your head is always cloudy.” ~Unknown

This is an article I wrote for Tiny Buddha last year that was published January 1, 2013. If you’ve not heard of Tiny Buddha, I highly recommend venturing over there and taking in all the goodness.

Have you ever noticed that your biggest “aha” moment comes from someone asking a powerful question? Suddenly everything seems to make a little more sense, and you know what you need to do from that point forward, right?

That’s exactly how it is for me. Someone will ask me a seemingly trivial question and bam! I’m suddenly overflowing with answers, emotions, solutions—I’m practically made of clarity!

I remember a friend of mine asking me over coffee one rainy afternoon a few years ago, “What are you avoiding, Blake?”

“What? Nothing. I mean, I guess I don’t want it to fail.” I eventually replied.

“Yeah, and…” She quips back. “What happens then?”

I came to her because her willingness to face challenges head-on amazes me, and I needed her to facemy challenge and give me that sage advice I knew she could. I wanted to leave corporate America and venture out on my own, and I wanted her to somehow make that sounds less crazy.

I wanted to throw caution to the wind and follow what I most passionately believed in.

I wanted to be my own success story.

also wanted someone else to tell me it was going to work.

Calculating, weighing, analyzing—these things can only take you so far. I subconsciously needed something to get me out of my head and into some clarity. I needed that push.

We bounced back and forth for what seemed like eternity. When most people have conversations like this, one party inevitably snaps out of the pattern and either says something oddly profound, or simply gets frustrated and tells the other to bugger off.

I was lucky enough to receive the former rather than the latter.

“When do you stop calculating risk and rewards and just do it?” she asked. “Because it feels like you’re building a magnificent ship you’re too much of a baby to ever sail. What are more committed to, dreaming it or doing it?”

Holy cow, I was stunned. She was right. What was I more committed to? What a brilliant question.

As a coach (yes, I made the leap and ventured out on my own), I make my living asking these questions to help clients get out of their own way.

The beauty of these questions is there are no right or wrong answers. They are just meant to get your wheels turning, and maybe help you see the decisions you’ve been making, and the ones you’d like to make from now on.

These are 28 of my favorite questions:

1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you?

2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail?

3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength?

4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life?

5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it?

7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

8. What do you most connect with? Why?

9. What one piece of advice would you offer a newborn child?

10. Which is worse—failing or never trying?

11. Why do we do things we dislike and like the things we never seem to do?

12. What are you avoiding?

13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now?

14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

15. What are you most grateful for?

16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world?

17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you?

18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing?

19. What are you committed to?

20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things?

21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy?

22. Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one?

23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed?

24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

25. What permission do you need/want to move forward?

26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it?

27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world?

28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing for your story or for someone else’s?

Powerful questions can change the very fiber of our construction. They give us a chance to challenge our own ideals and perhaps shed some light on what we are and are not committed to.

It’s important to understand that we’re always committed to something. If it’s not success out on our own, it’s staying safe in the comfortable success of someone else. If we’re not committed to creating our opportunities, we’re committed to floating around, hoping, waiting, and wishing for circumstance.

Are you more committed to dreaming it or doing it?

Ask yourself some of these questions when you feel stuck. What comes up just might surprise you!

Peace, love, and a million successes to you, my friends!

Photo by Tobias Mandt

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