What asking small questions does, it creates an environment for our brain to be creative and playful. When we have a large question or an extremely huge problem, fear comes, the fear part of our brain stops us. It gets in the way, and we start getting anxious and irritable. Asking small questions, diffuses the anxiety.
So a quick quote, before we get started, is this. “What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never think to ask.” Sam King. Now let’s say that again. “What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, we refuse to ask, or never think to ask.” Now let’s get into it. The brain loves questions, the hippocampus is located in the mammalian part of the brain.
The hippocampus main criteria is for the storage of repetition and memory. By asking the same question over and over and over again, it forces your brain to do nothing but to pay attention to that small question. Does that make sense? Let me say it again. That’s another reason why we said the quote again, so let’s say it again. “What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never think to ask.” So what the hippocampus does is it stores it in the repetition part of the brain. All right, so asking the same question over and over again. I’m repeating it just for a reason so it sticks into your head because what we’re saying is repeat over and over again. So I’m repeating it more than once so you guys understand that repeating something over and over again, then you remember it more. So again “What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never think to ask.”
What repetition does is it forces your brain to pay attention. If I say something once, you’re going to Most likely dismiss it. The Second time I say it, it’s going in your brain it might stay in there, but most likely, leave. But if I continuously repeat it, by the end of this you’re going to be like, “You know what? I get it.” It is said, it takes an average person 9 times before they retain information.
So ask small questions. So ask the same question over and over and over again. If you want to make a change, ask yourself small questions about the goal. For example, if you want to be healthy, ask yourself the same question every morning you wake up. “What can I do today to make myself healthy?” Or actually, start a little smaller than that, because ask yourself small questions. “What can I change in my daily schedule today that will take less than 30 seconds to help my health?
So now that’s a much more precise and it’s a smaller question. Ask the smallest question you can think of. Brainstorm, at first it’s going to take a little bit, because as you see, the natural progression of what I just did. What’s the first attempt “What can you do in the morning to change your health? Well, that’s a big question. Second attempt, “What can I change in my daily routine that I can change in 30 seconds?” Okay. Well, that’s grand, I can march in place for 30 seconds. Brainstorm, whatever it is. Now, you can also take that same small question and apply it to anything that you want to change. “I want to be more financially responsible.” Okay, so you wake up in the morning, “What can I do today to be financially more responsible?” Break down your list. Ask more questions. How many people have been around a little kid? Not the terrible twos, but more like the question threes, to where everything they say is, “Why? Why mommy? Why daddy? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?”
Small questions, each one of those small questions is what we’re doing right here. There’s a reason why kids ask, little people ask those thousand questions, a question for everything. Because their brain is constantly moving and learning, constantly asking questions is how they learn. And that’s why they’re asking. So what I’m challenging you to do is the same, ask yourself a thousand little questions. And what that will do is allow you to tiptoe past fear.
When a question triggers fear, it restricts the cortex. So let’s break that down a little bit. So like I said, we’ll go back to the bigger question. Like the, “I’m overweight,” or, “I’m poor.” That is a huge question. “How can I change this? How can I no longer be poor?” Or “How can I be financially secure, or the best shape of my life?” Because some people just will never get a six-pack, that just won’t happen. Some people, it just won’t happen. But the best shape of their life is, It varies for each person.
With a big question, it can be crippling, it can block you, and shut you down abandoning the creative part of your brain. It’s deer in the headlights, you’re like, “What to do? I don’t know.” And so by asking these small iddy biddy questions, we kind of tiptoe past the amygdala, the midbrain. We talked about that in the beginning part of the book. So by doing that, it diffuses us. So just try it one good time, So when you’re really, really stressed out and you’re like, ” I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for all these bills. I don’t know what I’m going to do, enter your problem ______.” Most of the time while we are in this stressful State we end up putting ourselves in a deeper hole. We tend to find things that distract us from our problem opposed to solving our problem.
I don’t know how many have done this, but I’ve done this numerous times, I’ll be stressing about something, and instead of just doing it, I end up doing something else that compounds the problem. It makes it even worse than what it was in the beginning. And if I had just slowed myself down, seeing this big problem like, “You know what? That’s impossible for me to think of right now. I’m getting stuck. So I need to ask for help. And I need to start asking small questions and turn that little three-year-old back on in my body.”
What I mean by the little three-year-old is the million questions to question everything, question the smaller questions, try to break it down. Because every problem is huge in the beginning, but then when you break it down and you’re like, “Oh, well, all right, okay. If I do this in the morning, then this is going to happen.”
I kind of got my drinking down. I struggled with alcoholism a lot when I was in my twenties. I was drunk every day. I was like, “Yeah. Let’s party.” But then as I’m getting older, I’m trying to take that out of my life, and cigarettes and everything else. So I’ve got this nice little lovely thing called sparkling water. So asking small questions. So the big question is, how am I going to stop my vices? So the very first thing with the drinking, I didn’t tell myself I’m going to stop. Because that’s an all or nothing statement, and that’s very difficult to maintain in the beginning. It really, truly is. Even when you tell yourself, “I’m just going to stop doing it,” that’s almost saying that you’re going to fail, because you’re not giving yourself any bit of leeway. So stay away from making statements Like, “I’m never going to… I hate this,” or, “I’m never going to do this ever again.” Because you might in turn lower your self-confidence, but WHY? When you make definite,or all-or-nothing statements and you break them, you’re breaking your own self-confidence, you’re breaking your own integrity you start distrusting yourself. My first approach was asking small questions. “Well, how am I going to slow myself down?” Seltzer water, I just picked it up from the store. I was like, “I’m going to try this.” And in a weird way, it’s starting to work because of the carbonation. What I noticed is at the end of the water, it doesn’t taste the same as beer, but it serves the same purpose. I’ve had a couple of beers. I’m not saying that it’s perfect, I have stopped everything in the world, but I’ve slowed myself down just by doing something small. Asking a small question on a habit. The small question, how am I going to solve this problem?
Now, by doing that, you’re seeing the small little things like the habit of grabbing a beer and drinking it. So knowing that I have the habit of actually drinking, is a habit, how are you going to break that habit of drinking beer? So then I replaced it with water. I didn’t want to replace it with soda because then eventually I’m going to have a different problem. I’m going to have a sugar problem, and then a terrible teeth problem.
So I don’t try to substitute with something negative. Try to solve your problems in a positive way. If it’s with money, saving money, well, how can I do that every day? Matter of fact, buying water has saved me quite a bit of money. By default, my goal wasn’t to save money by doing this. My goal was to slow down on drinking alcohol, but by default, it’s helping other aspects of my life. Does that make sense?
So asking small questions, you can kill two birds with one stone. Does that make sense? Every morning, ask the same thing, look at the problem that you have and then break it down just a little bit, because… Like a big rock, a big boulder. If I were to tell you to move this from here to here, and it does not matter how you do it. Now, the first few people’s reaction is, “Oh my God, let me try to push this big boulder.” It’s not going to happen. But now I gave you some tools, I gave you any kind of tool that you can think of. Well, if you break that rock down, then you’ll be able to move it faster. You’ve got a rock chisel and break it down, take it piece by piece. And so that’s the same thing, it’s like asking small questions for the grander problem, the grander thing in life, the grander rock it is. And ask a small question, “Well, how can I break this little piece off of this rock and bring it over? How can I break this little piece off and bring it over?” Ask small questions and you have a higher success rate of accomplishing your goals.
Fears tend to sort themselves into two major categories. The fear of not being worthy, “I don’t deserve it.” And the fear of losing control, So think about that again, the fear of not being worthy and the fear of losing control. Now, to break those into manageable parts, what would you do?
If your overall goal on “a fear of not being worthy” is getting a job promotion, what would you be doing differently today in order to deserve it? Make sure you ask a positive question in a positive manner not a negative question. If you ask a negative question, you’re going to go backwards, not forwards because you’re questioning yourself in a non-productive manner. It’s the same as if you say to a little kid, “Don’t be bad.” Well, nine out of 10, they’re going to be bad because they heard the word bad. But if you tell them, “Be good,” I don’t know why it does it and what it is. I forgot what doctor or what scientist came up with this, but it’s true. So you have a higher success rate if you keep it positive. If you say positive words, opposed to negative words. So the fear of not being worthy, “I don’t deserve it,” or, “Why me? Why am I not good enough?” Well, switch that question around and be like, “Why am I good enough? And what is it that I need to fix in order to show my positive sides?”
Let everyone see why you do deserve it, right? Because the same amount of energy that you’re putting into thinking of why you don’t deserve it, is the same amount of energy you can think on why you do deserve it. It’s the same amount of energy, it’s going to take the same amount of time. Just one’s positive, one’s negative. One’s going to get you what you want, the other one’s going to continuously get you where you are. And I say that as serious and nonchalantly as possible, but you’re actually regressing. You’re not progressing, you’re regressing if you think negatively.
Because something that does not progress, something that stays stagnant is going backwards. So if you’re losing control… Well, before you even have that. “Well, what if I like him and he leaves me?” Was first, is this the right person? If you have the fear that this person’s going to leave you for something, well, why don’t you ask yourself the first major question, “Is this my ideal mate?” Because the fear of something happening, that can be a huge fear. And then that can dictate what you do, what you say, how you act, how you dress, everything. How you smell, everything. What job you get, that can dictate everything just to appease somebody else. But what if… Ask yourself the question, “What do I want?” And you might find out that the person that you’re so scared about leaving you or losing control, you don’t even really want. It doesn’t even match up with what you want for yourself. But if you don’t ask these small little questions of yourself, then you’ll never know. Then the whole time you’re going to have this fear of someone leaving you, when the entire time you never even wanted to be with the person in the first place. You were just so scared of them leaving you, that you were doing everything in the world to make sure that they didn’t leave you. I hope that makes sense.
All right, on to more of the negativity, negative questions, toxic mental brew. “Why am I a jerk? Why could I be so stupid? Why is everyone else’s life easier than mine?” Your brain is going to continuously work. And if you keep asking yourself negative questions, then you will get negative results.
Think of it like this. You have a finite amount of energy to expend in a day. And let’s say it’s a number of a 100. So if you spend 99 out of a 100 thinking negatively, or, “Why am I such a jerk? Why am I so poor? Why is this person’s life better than mine?” Well, then you’re only spending one point thinking how that you can actually solve these problems. These are the problems that you want solved. The, “Why am I such a jerk?” Well, if that’s what you keep asking yourself that question, then the complete opposite of that is, “How can I be nice?” So instead of thinking, “Why am I such a jerk?” Think, “How can I be nice?”
If something continuously happens, then you’re obviously doing something, you’re missing something that you should be seeing. So look at the positive. All right. Well, find out exactly what it is. I don’t want to touch that, it will mess it up. Find out exactly what it is that’s not working. Ask yourself the questions and move forward. The small questions to progress you into a positive socket. “How come everyone else’s life is easier than mine?” Well, why are you so focused on everyone else’s life, instead of yours? If you focus on your life, ask yourself, “How can I make my life better every single day?” Instead of asking yourself, “Why is their life better?” Well, “How can I make my life better?” it’s the same thing. It’s just transferring the energy from a negative into a positive.
If you’re unhappy but aren’t sure why, try asking yourself this. “If I were guaranteed not to fail, what would I be doing differently?” The next one. If you’re trying to reach a specific goal, ask yourself every day, “What is one small step I could take towards reaching that goal?” The next one. Often we focus our attention on what people we think are most important. A key employee, the problem child, or our mate, leading us to ignore others who may have valuable insights for us. We’re so used to asking advice from the people that we’re used to getting advice from. Our mom, our sister, our brother, our co-worker, or whatever. If you want to change, well, then change your perspective. Ask somebody that you’ve never asked before, get their perspective on the same situation, and see maybe that they’ll enlighten you to something different, to see something different in your life that you’ve never seen before. And that information could spark your cortex to be creative and playful. Like we said, asking small questions.
If you tend to feel pessimistic or negative, try asking yourself the question, “What is one small thing that is special about you, or your spouse, your organization?” And then ask yourself this every single day until it becomes second nature. And instead of you being negative and pessimistic, you’re starting to be positive, and you’re starting to think positive thoughts about yourself.
Instead of being like, “Well, why am I so ugly, and why am I so fat?” Start thinking of one positive thing for yourself.
For me “Why am I out of shape?” Or, “Why am I fat? Why am I so lonely?” whatever it is. Instead of asking myself a negative question about myself, I have to in turn, switch that around and start thinking of something positive. “Well, I help a lot of people. I can give great advice. When friends come to me, they feel that they can get great advice or they can get advice that can give them a different perspective on looking at things.”
So by looking at that, I’m positively reinforcing my self-confidence and my personal aura about myself. And that’s what we’re trying to do is with the FYMM way, we want to change ourselves, by small, little steps. So this particular one, by asking small questions, we’re diffusing the midbrain and the fight-or-flight. And by doing that, we’re giving ourselves a better percentage chance in order to achieve our goals. So I hope that you’ve learned something from this, and I didn’t confuse you too much. just ask small questions and repeat over and over, and over, and over, and over. And then after you’re done doing that, redo it again.
So every morning, it all depends on what it is that you want to change. Ask yourself every morning, “What’s the smallest thing that I can do today?” And then once you got that down, start working on the next smallest thing that you can do, not the biggest. Most of the time, we’re always trying to conquer a huge problem. Something that takes hours upon hours, and days upon days, trying to solve it. Always start with the next easiest thing you can do until it is done.
This morning, I was like, “Okay, what is the one thing that I can do?” Well, I can get the studio setup. It’s not the greatest of studios but the filming location is set up. And then I sat down, and then, Okay, well, what’s the next smallest thing that I can do, where I can get my phone situated? All right. Well, what’s the next smallest thing. And then 30 minutes later I was in business. By asking myself the smallest questions and “what it is I needed to do this morning”. By asking myself the small questions, I diffused the amygdala and I gave myself no other choice but to sit down and do it. Does that make sense? See the process?
But by forcing myself to ask small questions, “What’s the next smallest thing?” Not the next biggest thing. Not like, “How am I going to get this done today?” I didn’t ask myself how am I going to get this done today? I said, “What’s the next smallest thing I can do?”