The correct questions

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Do you guys remember this episode of X-Files? The usual “truth is out there” title was replaced by these three words. It was all my friends and I could talk about the next day at school. I had never heard of these words before (with the exception of deceive) but I remember loving the sound of them. They sounded and still sound so deliciously sinister, especially obfuscate. For those who need a refresher of what the words mean:

inveigle – manipulate      obfuscate – confuse, puzzle

And I think this is precisely what some questions serve to do.

Questions like:

“What is your life passion?”      “Should I quit my job?”     “Should I break-up with him?”                 “Are you happy? 

At a basic level, we ask questions because we don’t know something and we need an answer. But these questions are too grandiose and complex. They are overwhelming and you usually don’t know the answers to these questions and even if you did answer them, they give you little hint that there might be a problem or what the problem might be.

In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell speaks about Professor Gottman who has managed to predict with 90% accuracy whether a couple will stay married 15 years later based on observing them talking about a contentious issue within their marriage. He says he doesn’t ask them point-blank questions about the state of their marriage because most of the time, they might not know or they’ll feel awkward about telling the truth. Instead he comes at the issues sideways which he has found is “a lot more quicker and efficient path to the truth.”

And I realize that is true for most situations in life as well.

When I was thinking about what my next step at work should be, for a long time I was paralyzed between the questions, “What is my passion?”, “Do I like my job?”, “Should I quit my job?”. These questions didn’t provide any insight for me. And I just felt more stressed about the fact that I couldn’t answer these questions?

But some other questions which had nothing to do with work at all or that was asked in a different way, nudged me towards what I was actually feeling. For example, “Are you living your life wholeheartedly now?” “Are you feeling energized?”, “Do you want to be excited by the job you are doing?”, etc. The best question though came quite unexpectedly from my now ex-boss. And it was work-related. One day he suddenly  asked me “Where I hoped to see myself in a year’s time?”

He was asking this in context of my job, about how I wanted to progress, etc but I had an immediate response to this question (which I didn’t articulate) but the response was clear and unambiguous – “Anywhere but please, not here.” And this response didn’t change at all when I asked myself the same question in the following weeks. This was my first clear indication that although I loved my colleagues, that although I thought my job was interesting and knew I could progress forward, this was not what I wanted.

Other people have other sideways questions.

One of my closest friend Carlene says that when she’s faced with a big decision, she often asks herself “What would the me 10 years from now do?” And I was reading a post from this guy, Mark Manson who has given a whole other set of questions that you could ask yourself as opposed to “What is your life purpose?” I don’t think they all make sense but maybe some of it will make more sense to you? Happy reading.

7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose

By the way, do you have any questions that have thrown you closer to your truth? Let me know what it is? I’d love to find out.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Latika says:

    These sideways questions are indeed thought-provoking because they aim to provide you information about what you value the most. These are some of the questions I sometimes ask:
    -“If someone who loves you/knows you very well, what advice would they give you right now?”
    -“If you were at your 50th birthday party, what would your partner/friends/family say about the choices you have made in life?”

    Thanks for this article, Shoba!


    1. shobaharidas says:

      Thanks for reading Lat. And thanks for the questions. Gonna keep that. Btw, I really liked Lowlands. Its been a long time since I was absorbed in a book and it’s characters.


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