Beautiful questions

A new friend of mine wrote a wonderful blog entry about asking beautiful questions. As a researcher and Professor of Sociology, questions are critically important in her field. The beautiful ones, she broke it down for us, will always lead to more questions.

“That is the beauty of such a question, it doesn’t stop. A beautiful question asks everyone who comes into contact with it to respond. Not everyone will respond of course, that’s free will. Beautiful questions don’t rest, but rather are generative. These are the questions that create more than they stay still. Beautiful questions inspire discussion, debate, engagement, inquiry and reflection.

“Beautiful questions are also really HARD.”

Tonight, about a week after being introduced to the concept of beautiful questions, another friend asked a group of us one of the most beautiful questions I’ve ever heard.

Silhouette of a person standing with ther arms behind their head

©: iStockphoto / simonmcconico / confused




What would your life be like if you said to yourself:

“I am enough.
“I do enough.
“I have enough.” ?




What did you just feel? What did you just think? How long did it take before the inner monologue protest started?

“I would be lazy and unmotivated, never striving for better.” No, it’s not a temporal question. Because nothing is permanent. Things are always changing. It is not possible to stand still.

Is it a question of self-trust? What if in each and every present moment, you are, do, and have enough?

What if you entered each present moment with that feeling of wholeness and worth? That you are enough, do enough and have enough? What if you had the self-trust to know how to handle each present moment?




What would your life be like if you said to yourself:

“I am enough.
“I do enough.
“I have enough.” ?




It is similar to another question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” but better, because you don’t have to get caught up on the word “fail.” The inner Ego dragon can take that “fail” word and sling it around like a burst of fire from its snout, singeing everything.

But when you begin to speak the affirmative “I am enough” – the Ego dragon pauses. Head cocked. Whisp of smoke curling from its nostril.

These are Ego dragon-taming questions.

I have an amazing group of friends. We meet routinely to explore topics like this. It used to be that we struggled to make time to get together. But now a pack of wild dogs couldn’t keep us away. Because we share our vulnerabilities with one another. We gain insights and strength from one another.

We help each other see that we are enough.

One friend weighed in with the experience from a financial planning seminar she attended this weekend. She said that we often approach things “have, do, be.” If I have this equipment, this job, this thing, then I can do this other thing and then finally; then I can be what or who I am supposed to be.

When really, we do much better approaching it the other way. I am, I do, I have. Having comes as a result of being, then doing.

Now, when we talked last evening, we had the benefit of an opening reading that set our dragon Egos at ease. Because it allowed us to compare our imperfect selves with an imperfect world of other imperfect selves.

Let me begin by telling you a little about yourself. To one extent or another:
You are self-conscious about your appearance;
You feel guilty about things you have done or failed to do;
You sometimes have a hard time accepting or forgiving others;
You are insecure sexually;
You are less than perfect parents and/or less than perfect children of imperfect parents;
You are frustrated husbands, wives or partners, or frustrated not to be husbands, wives or partners;
You have secrets, which you might betray or might betray you at any given moment;
However successful, you are a failure in ways that matter both to you and to your loved ones;
Beyond all this, your life is stressful, your happiness fleeting, your health insecure;
You worry about aging;
You sometimes worry about dying;
More than once your heart has been broken by betrayal or loss;
And however successful you may be, however deep your faith, when the roof caves in, you shake your fist at Heaven, the fates, or life itself;
You beg for an answer to the question, “Why?” — “Why this? Why me?
Why now?”
You wonder what your life means
Forrest Church, Lifecraft

Ask again –




What would your life be like if you said to yourself:

“I am enough.
“I do enough.
“I have enough.” ?




Would you be less likely to get offended?
Would fear have less of a hold on you?
Would failure cease to be a threat?
Would you procrastinate less?
Would you take leaps of faith more?
Would you get angry less?
Would you be content more?

How would the world be different if everyone told themselves that they were enough, did enough, and had enough. What would happen to the giver and the receiver of the meaning in the quote below?

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Race Exhibit Banner - Racism is not about how you look. It's about how people assign meaning to how you look.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Exhibit Race - Are We So Different? Racism is not about how you look. It's about how people assign meaning to how you look.

If we each individually believed in our own wholeness and worth, what would happen to intolerance based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age? What would happen to bullying? Road rage? Heart ache? What would we set ourselves out to do?

“…[W]e need to teach the joy of a good question, and to encourage more people to start playing with questions, talking about them, and trying to figure out pieces of them. We need more people who believe that it’s OK not to have the answer, that in fact, they’re doing it right if they are concerned and confused, if they’re not sure what’s coming next. I don’t think we can adequately prepare for a world of uncertainty and challenging social issues until we decide that it’s ok to ask deep questions and not know the answer.”
– Beth M. Duckles, Asking Beautiful Questions

Silhouette of a man standing under a sunset sky with arms outstretched.

©: iStockphoto / Firehorse / Enlightenment

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One thought on “Beautiful questions

  1. Pingback: Sustainable Birthday | renewable enthusiasm

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