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Big Questions

If you have ever pondered questions like, "What is the meaning of life?" or "Why do we feel motivated to do good?" you may have noticed that doing so really takes no more brainpower than balancing your checkbook. And although you are more likely to be satisfied and certain with the result of the checkbook balancing, thinking about these things is not just good brain exercise. This kind of thinking gives you insight and perspective.

But how do you think about the big questions of life? What do you do to get more deeply into them and develop a more profound understanding? Try one of the easiest and most effective ways: Do like children do and keep asking simple questions.

Why? What? How? - The Big Questions

Perhaps a child has challenged you with this game of questions. She might start by asking why you have to leave. You say, "To go to work," and then she asks you why you have to go to work. You answer, "To make money," and she asks why you have to make money. You answer, "To pay for food and a house and clothes," but of course it doesn't stop there. Let her, and the child may lead you right up your hierarchy of values to the meaning of life itself.

If it is a "what" question, you (or the child) would continually define each new explanatory word as it was used. "What is happiness?" might be answered, "A feeling that everything is all right," and then you ask what a feeling is and what "all right" means. Define "all right" to mean "as it should be," and you are heading for the question, "What is the meaning of 'should'?"

This repeated questioning that children use is great for creating an explanation, and also good for pointing out assumptions that we may not have previously stated or been aware of. For example, you might arrive at "Going to work makes me money which buys things we need which will make me and my loved ones happy," or the shortened version "Going to work makes me happy." Unfortunately, explaining things and making assumptions more conscious isn't necessarily very educational or useful.

How then, do we increase understanding, and to point out possible errors in thinking? We can start with this questioning technique to outline the logical chain of ideas in our explanation. However, that's just a start. Then we need to challenge each of these ideas to see if there is a better perspective or an error in our thinking that we can correct. Using the above example, we can ask "Does going to work actually make me happy?" or "Is there a better way to make money?" Now let's look at another example.

Assuming you do, why do you want to do brain exercises? "To be more intelligent," you might answer. And why do you want to be more intelligent? To solve problems more effectively, perhaps, and you want to solve problems more effectively to have more control over your environment, to make more money, or to improve your personal situation. Why that? Maybe to be happier?

Look at each of these steps in the reasoning and you can identify a number of assumptions - which may or may not be the best ones available. For example, it might be a valid question to ask if exercising the brain actually improves intelligence, or if only certain kinds of mental exercise are effective. You could ask if being more intelligent really helps you solve problems more effectively. Maybe learning specific problem solving techniques is more important than your IQ level.

Challenging any and all assumptions is the second step in this process. Then you look for new perspectives and approaches by moving up the hierarchy to see if there are other ways to re-create this logical chain of ideas. If the end result is supposed to be happiness, for example, what other approaches make more sense than brain exercises? Or part-way up the hierarchy, what about the idea of having more control? Are there specific actions you could take that will get you there faster than just generally increasing your brainpower?

This three-step process will give you new insight into any of life's big questions or even not-so-big ones. You create the logical chain of ideas first, by asking those "why," "what" or "how" questions repeatedly - write these down for best results. Then you challenge each assumption, and look for better ones. Then you look for other ways to get to each point in the hierarchy of ideas that you created.

Big questions are a regular feature of The Mind Power Report.

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