Discovering Your Dominant Question
"The questions you ask yourself will shape your life."
The process of thinking is nothing but asking and answering questions. Our thinking changes the shape of our lives, so the questions we ask ourselves matter, whether it’s “how can I learn this?” or “how can I get healthier?” We’re asking ourselves questions all the time, but we’re often not conscious of them and how they impact our behavior. Used properly, questions are a useful tool to take the knowledge and turn it into action.
In this episode, you’ll hear from my friends at the Mindpump Media Podcast and how you can uncover the questions you might not have been aware you were asking yourself, and how to use them to effect change in your life—and.
We also talk about how our brain chooses what subjects to focus on, how our memories work, and quick tips for learning and notetaking. I’ll take you through 3 quick questions to help you turn knowledge into action, then explain how you can work out what the dominant question in your life is.
HOW THOUGHTS SHAPE YOUR LIFE
- Jim’s sister started sending him emails and cards with pictures of a pug dog—she wanted one for her upcoming birthday. After that, he started to see them everywhere.
- Where were they before? They were always there, he just didn’t notice them.
- At any given time, there are 2 million stimuli we could be paying attention to. The brain is primarily a deletion device, it’s trying to keep noise out because if we focused on everything we would go crazy!
WHAT DETERMINES WHAT WE FOCUS ON?
- We can only hold 7 (plus or minus 2) bits of information in our memory at a time. This number was devised by George Miller’s 1952 study at Harvard University.
- We’re constantly ignoring distractions in order to focus on this limited amount of information.
- When we’re reading, there are “pug dogs” (distractions) everywhere!
RETAINING INFORMATION: NOTE-TAKING
- The left side of the page: take notes, capturing, to-dos.
- The right side of the page: make notes, creating. Write down your impressions of what you’re learning.
- Jim’s goal: take knowledge and turn it into action, because our life changes by doing something new.
- Everything we do is habitual. We have 60-70,000 thoughts a day, but 95% of those are the same thoughts we had yesterday.
WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS?
- We ask ourselves questions all the time, but we’re not conscious of it.
- The process of thinking is nothing but asking and answering questions.
- A friend’s repetitive question was: “how do I get people to like me?” Based on this question, what do you think her life would be like? You can learn so much about a person just from one question.
- What is your dominant question? What’s a question you’ve been asking yourself since you were a little kid?
- Jim’s was: “How do I make this better?”
THREE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
- When you’re learning something, ask yourself obsessively “how can I use this?” This will prompt creative ideas on how you can use the information.
- “Why must I use this?” This goes back to human motivation, we want to have agency and control when deciding to do things. One of the best ways to help you remember names is to ask: why do I want to remember this person’s name?
- “When will I use this?” The most powerful productivity tool we have is our calendar. We don’t treat our self-development like we do other things in our lives. People don’t schedule workouts then wonder why it gets cut at the end of the day when they have no energy. Self-love and self-care is not selfish.
What is your dominant question? Some examples might be:
- “How do I learn this?”
- “How do I make sure my family is okay?”
- “How do I get healthier?”
2 WAYS TO FIND YOUR DOMINANT QUESTION
Listen. Reflect on your thoughts, listen to your inner talk. Sit in silence. Silence isn’t empty, it will be full of your own questions.
Journal every day. Review and record your day, and you’ll start to notice patterns skewing towards the things you find important in your life.
- Don’t forget to take a screenshot of this episode, tag me on social media (@jimkwik & @kwiklearning) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 77: How To Turn Knowledge Into Action
Episode 63: The Power of Questions with Cal Fussman
Episode 101: 4 Keys to Changing Your Behavior & Habits
Episode 130: A Fail-Safe Tip to Creating a Habit with Ryan Levesque