Flower growing through a chain-link fence
Image by Szabolcs Molnar 

Narrated by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com

Video version

We go through life with so many questions. Some are simple. What day is it? What will I have for lunch? Should I have another cup of coffee?

Yet even the simplest questions aren't necessarily that simple. If we look at the questions I just brought up, the first one - what day is it - is rather straightforward... though it depends. If you're in New York and you're talking to someone in Australia, then it's not so straightforward because it could be a different day down-under.

But regardless... the other questions like what will I have for lunch may seem simple, but your body has needs, your body has requirements, your emotions have needs and requirements, and also your budget has needs and requirements. So what will I have for lunch is maybe not that simple. Same thing goes for should I have another cup of coffee. Maybe that's not as simple as it could be due to health reasons, stress levels, being rushed for time, or whatever.

What is my body trying to tell me?

One way we can use to answer our questions, is to check with our body: What is my body trying to tell me? I've noticed that when I'm paying attention, I can get the answer to a lot of questions that I haven't even asked.

For example: I may pick up something to eat and if I tune in and pay attention, I'll feel a discomfort in my stomach or a pressure in my head. This is my body telling me that this item is not good for me at that moment, in that it will cause stomach discomfort or a headache. It doesn't mean that it's never good for me - it just means that, at this moment, it is not in harmony with what I need.

Of course, there are more blatant ways that our body talks to us. We get a headache. Why? What caused it? Rather than running to the medicine cabinet and popping a pill to dull the pain, maybe we can first take the time to ask and listen:  What is the cause of my headache?

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The same process applies to stomach aches, backaches, nausea, feeling stressed, feeling tired, etc.  Everything that takes place has a cause. Listening to our body, to our aches and pains, to our discomforts, to our illnesses, to our fears, will tell us what the problem is and can help guide us to how to resolve it.

 So the next time you don't feel good, ask yourself: What is my body trying to tell me?

What needs attention?

In this world that we live in, we are so busy busy busy. We all have to-do lists, whether on paper, on our screens, or in our head. And it seems that the list gets longer, not shorter.

Perhaps rather than follow a to-do list, it would serve us better to follow our intuition. In his book, Wisdom from an Empty Mind, Jacob Liberman states: 

...when something enters our awareness, that's the moment to take care of it. Don't pay that bill tomorrow, take out the trash later, or make the bed when you get back. When you see it, do it! Don't prioritize anything -- life has already done that for you. Take care of what's in front of you, and the universe will take care of you. (Read the excerpt: Living in the Moment and Being Spiritual Are The Same Thing)

This is basically the meaning of living in the moment. We do what comes to our awareness at the time it comes to our awareness. If we are tired at 6 p.m., we go to bed. If we're tired at 2 p.m., we go to bed. If we are not hungry, even if it's noon or 6 p.m., we don't eat. 

We are best served by focusing on what needs attention in the present moment, not necessarily on what's next on our to-do list.

What do I really want?

Sometimes we go on automatic pilot. What this entails is that we're not in the moment. We're sort of standing outside of the present moment. We do things and make choices without really being aware of the choice we are making or the consequence of that choice.

We may choose to eat a certain food or drink a particular soda because we've always done it, rather than stop and ask ourselves: what do i really want. For example, if we really want to be healthy, we would probably choose to not eat two donuts every morning and drink a heavily-sugared drink.

And, there are the times when someone asks you to do something, or go somewhere with them, and you automatically say yes -- even when you don't really feel like it. This is an another occasion where we would be best served to ask ourselves: what do I really want?

I've found, and I'm sure you've experienced the same thing, that when I do things that I don't really want to do, I end up grumpy, tired, irritable --  and generally not very happy.

Perhaps a good way to start the day is to ask ourselves: what do I really want? And periodically throughout the day, ask ourselves that question again. This will help us to be true to ourselves and live the life that we are really meant to live.

What am I deeply grateful for?

We have so many things to be grateful for. Yet, perhaps the one thing that is the greatest is that every day we get a chance to start over. 

Whatever took place the day before, whatever we said or did, or didn't say or didn't do, the next morning brings us a chance to start anew. A bit like Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day who gets to repeat the same day over and over again until he learns the power of Love.

So while, for us, the next day may not be exactly the same as the previous day, it still has, probably, the same location, and the same cast of characters. So, if at first we didn't succeed, we can wipe the slate clean, and try and try again... And for this we can be deeply grateful!

And of course there's a long list of things to be grateful for everyday. The more we focus on these, the better our life will proceed. Focusing on the multitude of things to be grateful for will help us in creating the future we desire.

What is my heart saying?

The greatest guide we have is our heart. It can help get us out of whatever stresses and messes we have created, and guide us to be a "best version" of ourselves.

So whenever we find ourselves in a situation where we are uncertain, or caught up in old attitudes, we can ask ourselves: "What is my heart saying?" This is similar to What would Jesus do? or What would Buddha do?. We all have within ourselves that master teacher, that voice of wisdom, that inner guidance, regardless of what tradition we may identify with.

The inner guidance is not connected to any religion or belief. We know in our heart the "right" or "loving" way to be. The challenge is to choose that way even when we are headed in another direction.

What if I wasn't afraid?

One of the things that stops us from following our guidance, or living our dream, is fear. Whether it's fear of being ridiculed, or fear of rejection, or fear of failure, that fear is stopping us from being our true self... Which also means it's stopping us from being happy, from being playful, from being the unique being that we are.

There may be fears running our life that we are not even aware of. Make a list. Write at the top: I am afraid of... and then just write a list. No matter how silly the item seems, write it down.

And then go through the list, one by one, and ask yourself what if I wasn't afraid of... whatever the item is. For example: if you're afraid of being ridiculed, ask yourself what if I wasn't afraid of being ridiculed? Think of how your actions would be different, how your attitude would be different, how your thoughts would be different. Think of the freedom this would give you if you weren't afraid of the items on your list.

So the next time fear blocks your way, or trips you up, or stops you from doing or saying something, ask yourself, if I wasn't afraid, what would I do? And then if it feels right in your heart, go for it! Live the life you were meant to live. Be the person you are meant to be and that you truly are.

What's the most loving choice?

Of all the questions, this one is the most important: What's the most loving choice? Whatever we are doing, whatever we are planning. whatever we are thinking, our final decision should always be based on the most loving choice.

Just think about what the state of the world would be if all decisions were based on that question. Would there be starvation, would there be wars, would there be inequality? The obvious answer is that the most loving choice would never lead to any of those.

So while there are many questions. there is really only one answer. And that answer of course is: Love.  That includes choosing love for ourselves and towards everyone else. So, whenever we find ourselves seeking an answer, searching for a solution, or looking for a way to proceed, the best question to ask is: What's the most loving choice?

Article inspired from:

Inquiry Cards: 48-card Deck, Guidebook and Stand
by Sylvia Nibley  (Author), Jim Hayes (Artist)

cover art for Inquiry Cards: 48-card Deck, Guidebook and Stand by Sylvia Nibley  (Author), Jim Hayes (Artist)The deck that asks YOU the questions… because the answers…are INside you! A new kind of meditation tool. A delightful game to engage family, friends and clients in new ways.

We humans have a habit of looking OUTside ourselves. Especially for the big things, like love and power and answers to our most challenging questions. And that gets us into all kinds of trouble. The purpose of this deck is to turn that around and practice looking INside ourselves for answers, and in the process, train the mind to ask better questions.

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About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com