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By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

While we are transitioning into this New Year, why not try adding 5 truly essential questions to your life? Dr. James Ryan, former Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, offers us these 5 questions plus one bonus question at the end. You can watch the video below to learn more:

  1. Wait… what? (At the root of all understanding) A very effective way of asking for clarification which is crucial to understand. It’s a question you should ask before drawing conclusions or before making a decision.
  2. I wonder… which can be followed by “why” or “if” ? (At the heart of all curiosity)  Asking I wonder why is a way to remain curious about the world and asking I wonder if is a way to start thinking about how you might improve the world.
  3. Couldn’t we at least? (At the beginning of all progress) This is a question to ask that will enable you to get unstuck as they say; it’s what enables you to get past disagreement to some consensus. It’s also a way to get started when you’re not sure where you’ll finish.
  4. How can I help? (At the base of all good relationships) How we help matters as much is that we do help. If you ask how can I help you’re asking with humility for direction; and you are recognizing that others are experts in their own lives and that they will likely help you as much as you help them.
  5. What truly matters (to me)? This is a question that forces you to get to the heart of issues and to the heart of your own beliefs and convictions.

If you ask these questions regularly, especially the last one, you’ll be in a great position to answer the bonus question, which is, at the end of the day, the most important question you will ever face:

And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so? The “even so” part of this captures perfectly the recognition of the pain and disappointment that inevitably make up a full life, but also the hope that life, even so, offers a possibility of joy and contentment.

If you regularly ask these questions, when it comes time to ask yourself, “but did you get what you wanted out of life even so”, your answer will be, “I did”.

What did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel beloved on this earth. To feel beloved is to feel not only dearly loved but also cherished and respected.

If we all follow the advice of Dr. Ryan and start asking these questions more regularly, is it possible that we can all answer “yes” to the bonus question? We may be able to answer even more than that if we all give it a try!

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, social media and programming specialist for OneOp. The OneOp team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about OneOp Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.