Kenichi Ohmae in his classic book, “The Mind of a Strategist”, on organizational strategy, poses a very important question. While the book is devoted to strategies for solving organizational issues, the question he poses is pertinent even in our daily lives. This question that Kenichi Ohmae poses to us is this: Are the questions we ask designed to address the symptoms of a problem or are the questions so framed so as to point to possible solutions? In most cases, he says, we err towards asking questions that try to remedy particular symptoms.
This is what this post is going to focus on. There is an art to questioning. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “I would prefer a man who asks the right questions to a man who knows the right answers”. With regard to happiness, we should not ask ourselves “Why am I unhappy?” rather we should ask ourselves, “How can I make myself happy?”
The former question tries to focus on our laundry list of problems. Each of us will always have a set of pet peeves in life. Such a question will only bring forward all our miseries in life. It could be not having the right job, not getting a promotion or people not subscribing to your point of your view. Whatever may be the reason, when we ask ourselves “Why am I unhappy?” we are setting ourselves for further unhappiness by dwelling on our problems in life.
The problem with the earlier question is that while it focuses on the issues in our life it does not point towards any solution. We will just be turned towards many things that are not in our control and we will feel helpless.
Rather the right question we should put to ourselves should be “How can I make myself happy?” With this type of questioning we are forced to look for constructive ways out of our present unhappy state. The answers could be as simple as starting a reading habit or it could be starting on some creative endeavor like painting, poetry or photography. Others may find peace in doing random acts of kindness.
So our strategy for happiness should be based on the right questions that we pose for ourselves. The art of asking the right questions actually goes beyond personal happiness. It can be used as an effective way of solving our daily problems in life.