5 Questions I Would Like To Ask Presidential Candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

1.      How do you find joy on the campaign trail?

2.      Where do you notice beauty in the world?

3.      What would you tell a group of first grade kids to look forward to in their future?

4.      What are five things you truly admire about your opponent?

5.      If you are elected president, how will you role model joy and happiness for our nation and the world?

Game of the Day

What questions would you like to ask Mitt Romney and Barack Obama?

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Ten Happy Questions to Ask Yourself and Others

These Happy Questions can focus our thoughts and conversations on Happy Topics.  Have fun asking them!

10. What are five things you love about your life?

9. When have you felt happiest during the past week?

8. What makes you laugh?

7. What makes you smile?

6. What hobbies do you love?

5. What do you love about your friends and family?

4. What do you love about the space in which you live?

3. What do you love about the city, town, or countryside in which you live?

2. What do you love about your dreams?

1. What excites you as you look forward to the next year?

By asking Happy Questions, may you receive many Happy Answers.

Game of the Day

How many of these questions can you ask yourself and others today?

Create your own Happy Questions.

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.

Hi! This Is A Conversation

I’ve noticed that sometimes lately upon walking into a store, when the sales person says “Hi,” I immediately just ask them for the product I want to buy.

It occurs to me now that this is a bit strange.  Would I do this at a party?  If someone I have never met said “Hi,” would I immediately ask, “Do you know where the food and drinks are?”

Of course not!  This approach is no way to make an acquaintance, let alone begin a friendship.

So why when I walked into the office supply store just an hour ago and one of the people who worked there said “Hi,” did I immediately ask if the office chair I wanted was in stock?

For all I know, the worker (I don’t have the faintest idea what his name is) could have become a great friend.  Instead, I began my exchange with this man in the same way I begin my exchanges with Google, by asking for what I wanted.  If this is the type of exchange I have with Google (no offense Google), why am I having it with people?

I realize that I need to make an effort not to make my Face Time be like my Google Time.  (Gosh, I never thought I would come to a point of writing about Face Time.  I feel so twenty-first century and yet somewhat nauseous all at once.)

When a person we don’t know says “Hi”, it is an opportunity to start a conversation.  (I know.  Social interaction Pre-101, but I think I need a refresher.)

Conversations needn’t be long to be a conversation.  I think one reason we are afraid of beginning a conversation is that we think it could or should go on and on.

A conversation can be short and still celebrate who someone is.  For example in the office supply store, I could have started a short conversation by offering the person assisting me just a simple expression of appreciation.  Something like, “Thanks so much for being here today.  I really appreciate your assistance.”

Interestingly enough, I had just come from the grand opening of a dance studio.  Now if some men have two left feet, I quite possibly have two left feet, to left hands and to two left elbows (can a person have two left elbows?)  At least this is my assessment of my dancing talent in my mind.

Yet, I danced West Coast Swing and Tango.   Was I dancing like a pro, a semi pro, or even an advanced beginner?  No, I was dancing like an extreme beginner.  AND having an advanced amount of fun!

It occurs to me that when we meet someone and only have time for a short conversation, we can dance into that conversation like an extreme beginner.

Will we ever know the perfect way to begin a short conversation with someone we don’t know?  Probably not!   When we meet anyone for the first time, we are learning to dance in conversation with him or her and they are learning to dance in conversation with us.

Each conversation we have with a person we have never met is a dance into an unknown.

Sometimes, we may feel like we have two left elbows, but when we dance in conversation with people we have just met even for only a minute, we are dancing, celebrating that we are human and they are human and the joy of being alive.  And who knows what will happen.  Great friendships and advanced fun can begin with a short conversation.

Game of the Day

Time to practice your dance moves.  Begin a short conversation with at least three people who you would usually have only a transaction with (think people working at the places you shop and eat or people at your place of work who maybe you have never talked to.)  Have advanced fun being an extreme beginner in these conversations.

Creating A Helpful Conversation When A Friend Is Going Through A Rough Time

For the sake of today’s blog entry, say you have a good friend named Jake who you have known for years.

Your friend Jake calls you at four in the afternoon barely able to get out the words, “I just lost the job I had for twenty years.  Five months ago we got a new boss and he never liked me.  He called me into the his office and said I had to go because I was not keeping up with my paperwork.”

You switch off your computer monitor and the thought goes through your head, “How in the world do I help my wonderful friend?”

Jake’s focus is naturally on the shock, anger and frustration about being unexpectedly fired.  So the best place to start helping Jake is probably right where Jake is focused.  As the conversation progresses, you may be able to help Jake broaden his focus so that he feels more in control and better about the whole situation, but at this moment Jake needs to talk about the loss of his job.

Simply, repeating back to Jake as much as you can remember of what he just said can show Jake that he is being listened to and also have a calming effect. You could start by saying something like this, “So you got a new boss in your office five months ago….” and continue on to repeat the rest of what he said.

Or you can let Jake know that you are listening closely by delivering the content and emotion of what he said back to him but not using his exact words.  In this case, you might say something like “So you are saying you are very frustrated.  Your boss let you go today because he said that you didn’t complete paperwork when he wanted you to.”

Whether you choose to repeat what Jake said back to him or to paraphrase what he said or employ a combination of the two techniques, you show Jake that you heard him and also allow him a chance to slow down his thoughts, which could well be racing, and rehear what he just said.

Once you understand what Jake is dealing with and he feels that you have listened to him, you have an opportunity to begin conversing with Jake in a way that shifts the conversation.

Your purpose in shifting the focus of the conversation is to help Jake feel strong as he deals with this sudden crisis in his life.  So you can begin to remind Jake of the strengths he has.  You can do this by saying something like, “Wow you have twenty years work experience and are well-respected in the field.  It sounds like you would be a good catch for a lot of companies out there.”  Or you can invite Jake to create his own list of strengths by asking the question, “What are your major strengths as you apply for new jobs?”

To end your conversation with Jake consider asking him to reflect on the positive part of his week. Jake presumably had some good things happen in his week before his boss fired him.   Maybe say something like, “I understand that you are thinking a great deal about the news you got today about your job, but aside from that what has been nice about the past week?”  This question gives Jake a chance to enjoy his life again, and to remember more of his strengths.

 Game of the Day

In the next conversation you have with someone who is dealing with an area of struggle try the following practices:

 1.  Repeat or paraphrase what the person says so that you show them that you are listening closely and also allow them a chance to slow down their thoughts.

 2.  Once you understand what they are dealing with and they feel that you have listened to them, shift the focus of the conversation to the person’s strengths by making an observation or asking a question.

 3.  Finally, ask them to reflect on the positive part of their week.  This question gives them a chance to enjoy their life again, and to remember more of their strengths.

Beyond “What’s Happening?”— New Questions to Create Richer Conversations

                                    

If you had asked me “What’s happening?” or “What’s up?” or “What’s new?” at about 11:30 last night, I would have told you a sad little tale about parking my car in a bike lane which I didn’t notice, and having a sizable parking ticket when I returned to my car. I would have also told you about how I didn’t think the bike lane was clearly marked, but that I wasn’t going to appeal the ticket because it would be a lengthy process.  In addition, you would have had the opportunity to hear about how frustrated I was by the whole experience.

From there, the conversation could have progressed into swapping other frustrating parking ticket stories, before branching into talking about our general frustrations with life.

On the other hand, if at 11:30 last night, you had asked me, “What was the most amazing thing that happened in your day,” our conversation would have been different.  I would have answered excitedly by telling you about a birthday party I went to with my good friends Patricio and Michael.  I would have told you about our drive up into the mountains north of San Diego, where our gracious host lived high up with a pool right on the edge of a ridge.  As I was floating in the pool, I could gaze out and see orchards and gorgeous misty mountains in the distance.  Then after swimming and an amazing dinner, I would tell you of going for a walk to see a majestic avocado grove on the side of this mountain.

From there, you might well start telling me about the amazing places that you had been.  Our conversation might then naturally drift towards wonderful experiences we had enjoyed and amazing people we knew.

As you can see at 11:30 last night, based on the question asked, we would have had two completely different conversations.

When we ask each “What’s Happening?” or “What’s up?” or “What’s new?” or some variation there of, I’ve noticed that it is human nature to start talking about what is wrong with life.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to begin our conversations with richer questions that immediately place both speaker and listener in a positive frame of mind.  There are many variations of richer questions.  I’ll list just a few examples:

 “What is a great thing that happened in your week?”

“What are you most excited about today?”

“What do you love about your life?”

 “How have you felt strong this week?”

These questions naturally turn us towards having conversations in which we talk about our strengths and the things that make us happy.  These are highly enjoyable conversations to have!

Game of the Day

Today, begin three conversations with a richer question than you usually use to begin conversations.  Choose a question from the above examples or invent your own.