Lesson # 561- Ask the question, What if…?

What if…? A question commonly applied to past events, “What if she would have left 5 minutes later?”, “What if I would have gone back to work after having a baby?”. There is no benefit gained from these types of questions. They are neither helpful or healthy and will only foster negativity as there is no way to act on the past. But, what if you asked “What if?” right now? Would it give you time to pause and assess your behavior so that you can make better choices? Does it offer you the chance to be more present rather than five steps ahead of where you are supposed to be? Can asking that question affect other people?

It might just be me, but sometimes the words that follow that question induce fear. Perhaps that is why we never ask it when we need to. It opens up both possibility and uncertainty, making those who ask vulnerable to the monster inside our heads that tell us that we can’t or we will fail anyway. Can we flip it though? Can we hit the mute button on that monster and use that question to discover more of what we are capable of? Through possibility springs hope and I would like to think that by asking myself “What if?” I will give myself the opportunity to achieve something greater than what I initially thought possible.

What if…? Asking this question implies that you are aware that there could be different outcomes for any given situation. Awareness is the key word here. Give yourself a moment to determine how present you are in your daily life? Me, well… cue embarrassing anecdote: I was on the phone with my friend and at the same time walking out the door to pick up my son at school. Getting into the car I thought to myself, I forgot my phone, so I preceded to go back inside and spent the next couple of minutes looking for my phone. Can you catch how far gone I was? Yep, I told my friend that I was looking for my phone and then realized that I was talking on it. The scary thought is that I was getting into my car to pick up my son and I was not even aware of what I was doing. So now I ask myself, “What if I put the phone down and paid attention to the road in front of me?” Possibility #1- I will be a safer driver; Possibility #2- I will be aware of what is going on around me; Possibility #3- I will keep my son out of harms way. All of these are achieved because I ask myself one question before I act. It really is acknowledging the intricate nature of cause and effect and how to make decisions based on the options you open your eyes to.

Give it a try, ask the question. I realize that this requires some change, so start small. Maybe you can ask, “What if I drink 5 glasses of water today?” or “What if I gave that guy holding the sign $5 instead of ignoring him?” See what you are capable of just by asking one question before you act. Right now I ask myself, “What if I wrote a blog that inspired people to make better choices merely by becoming aware of their possibilities” I hit mute to the monster and am hopeful that this will help in some way.

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