Toddler Tactics & Mind Gymnastics

I love to be asked a good question, don’t you?

Have you ever been in the proximity of a 3 or 4-year-old child whose every sentence or thought was a question? Or how about this? Have you ever been in a meeting or with a group of people discussing ideas or problems, and to your surprise noticed the most obvious question(s) were left unasked?

Here’s the deal, from my perspective, it seems that living a meaningful life begs us to question…everything! Socrates said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Those are strong words, but they may be worth considering when life feels like its ‘off course’.

Honestly, the longer I live the more I realize how much I don’t know about anything. And yes, I realize that some things in life are meant to remain as mystery to us. But as long as my thinking processes are in tact, I will question, question, question.

“To the question of your life you are the answer, and to the problems of your life you are the solution.” ~ Joe Cordare

Sometimes I think the reason we struggle to live peacefully with ourselves and others is that we fail to question the constructs of our own status quo. I wonder if we could eliminate some stress and unfulfillment from our lives if we practiced asking ourselves (and appropriate others when necessary) the right questions on a regular basis.

“Questioning is the ability to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.”  ~The Right Question Institue

I wonder if we could help ourselves learn to question more readily if we gave ourself permission to think like a toddler and, “Question everything!” What might we discover about ourselves and life in general if we lived like life ran on questions and not answers?

“If I  had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes dertiming the proper question to ask for once I know the propert question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
~Albert Einstein

Here’s a list of five questions I came across in my readings from a couple years ago. They are meant to help us ‘examin’ our life on a regular basis. These are merely beginning points of inquiry which could quickly lead to many more meaningful questions.

Q1: What is my intention today?
Q2: Why am I doing this?
Q3: Why am I eating this?
Q4: What am I sharing?
Q5: What am I proud of?

“What have I always wished I’d done that I might try in some way now?”
~Dr. Phil McGraw

How will you know if you’re asking the right question? Perhaps when you run out of questions. Or perhaps if you don’t like the answers you’re getting. This may seem like circular thinking to you, spend some time with toddlers or pre-schoolers. This age group can teach us all how to practice this fine art of mental gymnastics. Now what would you like to know?

 

Which One Am I Feeding?

Okay, I’ll admit it…I’d like to lose a lousy 5 pounds. No more, no less. Honestly, that’s it. I know better than to be fixated on the numbers on my scale. I’m a personal trainer and health coach. And I’m always telling my clients how those scale numbers are not nearly as important as their body composition (% of fat and muscle) numbers. I say these things so often they are now cliché training-speak. I am not proud to admit these things, I am no different, no better than any one else I train. I have a love/hate relationship with numbers; they attack my logical brain and leave no room for reason.

Imagine my surprise on the day I contemplated my 5-pound conundrum, when a thought  occurred to me:  How can I help my clients to eat mindfully when I don’t always manage my own mindless eating? I only want to lose 5 pounds, I don’t need to lose 5 pounds, I just want to. And I have a hunch (okay, I KNOW) these last 5 pounds are not going to budge unless I make some changes in my way of eating. Why? Because I have a cheat. I have caloric wiggle room because I exercise a lot…every day…it’s my job and I love it. But it does not exempt me from the law of calories in = calories out.

I don’t know why I had this thought the other day, but that’s the nature of thoughts after all. Thoughts are like feathers blowing in the breeze, floating here and there waiting for us to give them a place to loft so as to entertain our attention. Once we attend to a thought, it may grow upon us and in us.

Now some thoughts are more entertaining than others. And depending on our current state of mind, we may or may attend to any given thought. But one thing is true, certain thoughts are better left for dead. Unattended if you will. Intuitively we know which thoughts make us feel happy or sad or encouraged or angry or defeated or motivated or lazy. So maybe this is why I gave that thought some attention the other day; because it made me think.

What we say and do is based on what we have already built into our minds.
Dr. Caroline Leaf

Actually the thought made me question…myself. And the question it asked was this: What is your intention regarding the food in your hand or on your plate? Are you feeding  yourself in response to bodily hunger or emotional hunger? What would your diet look like if you only ate with an intention to nourish your physical body rather than your emotional body?

Okay, so that was 3 questions. But the initial thought surprised and intrigued. Have I really been so un-intentional, so question-less in my eating? Yes, more often than I would care to admit. Yet here’s the irony of my thinking and believing: I say (I believe) my goal is to train my body for health and physical performance, and yet I eat food which I know will make my body (head and/or stomach) hurt. Really? Really!

Should I expect to reach my  fitness goals when I eat without intention? If I eat because it’s a reflex and not an answer to a question, then I may not be nourishing my body after all but rather my emotions.  So tell me something I don’t know…duh! And this double mindedness intrigues me…

Now that you have more information about me than you needed, bare with me one moment longer. Because I’m just going to put one little question on the table, before you and before me. For the next few weeks (until the end of September), before I put food in my mouth, every time, I will ask myself a question: Is this food you are about to eat for your body or for your emotion? Then I’ll wait for the answer. And if the answer is the one which will help me towards my goal…I will eat…and if it is not…???

So here’s to a half month of research. I’d love to have you join my little research project…if you feel so inclined. I’ll report the results in a post around the first week of October. Here’s to our thoughtful eating…cheers.