What Is Your Basic Life Question?

Ever thought about thinking?  A funny question I know.  But that’s what thinking is.  Thinking is simply the process of asking and answering questions.

Thinking starts from the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we go to bed at night (and sometimes it stops us from going to sleep because we worry or think some more!).  Ever wondered how many questions we might ask ourselves in a single day?  I know it’s not the kind of thing that you’d normally think about, but now that I’ve asked it, what would you guess?  100 questions a day?  1,000 questions a day?  Maybe 5,000 a day?  While it can’t be empirically measured, Dr Wayne Dyer in his book, “Your Sacred Self” has estimated that we ask around 60,000 questions a day!

Now in that myriad of questions that involves both your conscious and unconscious thinking, there is one basic life question that keeps getting asked over and over again.  Did you know that you have a basic life question?  You may or may not know it, but you do.  You may not know it because it is generally asked so often in your head that you get used to it and probably do it so automatically.  What’s more, this basic life question influences and impacts everything that you do in life.  It impacts your choices, your behaviour, your actions.  It influences the whole of your life.

If it is true that we ask this basic life question daily and maybe a number of times daily or hundreds of times, and if it is true that this basic life question guides and directs our life, then maybe it is worth finding out what it might be.

Generally though, for most people, it tends to have a negative spin on it.  This basic life question therefore is a prime driver in our life (whether we are aware of it or not).

So, what is your basic life question?  What is the one question that you ask yourself daily?  What is the one question that directs the majority of your behaviour?  What do you consistently focus upon?  What is the question that has extreme consequences if it is not fulfilled?  This basic life question is one that is designed to assist you to avoid pain and gain pleasure.  The question often has survival implications attached to it and it is generally directly linked to your identity.  Finally, it has intense emotional impact.

For example, my basic life question for the earlier part of my life was, “Am I good enough?”  This meant that by continually asking this question throughout my day, everything was filtered through this question and I would generally act in such a way that I was good enough.  For example, I would work hard, be conscientious, get things right, be driven and strive in order to be “good enough”.  This often meant working long hours in the office and feeling “stressed” in order to produce and meet impossible deadlines.  Sometimes I would please others or not be sufficiently assertive so that others would like me and I’d be “good enough”.  Sometimes, I would not speak up so that I’d be “good enough”.

Do you get the picture?

This basic life question is generally one that you make up in your childhood as a way of surviving.  The only problem is that we hold onto it even when we are big people.

A colleague of mine said that his was, “What’s the matter with me that they don’t recognise how good I am?”  People in his church would overlook his products (eg, books, CD’s, tapes, manuals) and look elsewhere including overseas for speakers and information that he had provided right on their very doorstep.  He would get angry and depressed because others would not see his talents.  He had other life experiences constantly where he felt that he was not worthwhile and his talents were not identified by others.  On the other hand, his wife’s basic question was, “Who is going to take care of me?”  This meant that she was concerned that her husband produce, be the provider, and become wealthy so that later in life she could be cared for.  Of course, this put him under pressure and his identity was wrapped up in having to produce and provide.  If he was “overlooked” and he did not provide, it would mean that he would become depressed (and then probably later be angry).

Another friend confided to me about his situation.  After years of foolish philandering leading to financial failure, Ross could only ask, “Why don’t I ever get my fair share?” and “What’s wrong with me that I can’t keep hold of my money?”   Today, he is a competent coach and collaborates with other business leaders.  He has a long term marriage, financial security and many friends.  He tells me that his life changed because his Basic Life Question changed.  His basic question now is, “How can I help the next person get what they want out of life?”

Can you identify your basic life question?  What do you think it might be?


If you can, your challenge now is to re-make your question.

Your original basic life question is probably a negative one – it needs to be changed into a positive one.  How do you this?  You need to ask a better basic question that possibly preserves the initial positive intent behind your old original basic life question.

For example, a new basic question might start with, “How can I appreciate even more….” or “How can I express even more….”  In this regard, my new basic life question is, “How can I appreciate even more the gifts of God that flow through me”.

Check if the new question fits for you.  Does it feel right?  Are there any downsides or negatives to it at all?  If there are, change it and play with it until you are happy with it.  Remember, this basic life question is going to be with you a long time, and it has a profound impact on the whole of your life, so it is worth getting one that is a better fit you for you.