Life—our lives are made of series of questions we wake up to answer every day. You are asked different questions by life and your redemption comes from how well you answer these questions. The problems of our lives are solved when we get the answers to these questions life put to us right. In “Man’s Search For Meaning” Viktor Frankl said, “…each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life, he can only respond by being responsible.”
Your answers to these questions may differ from my answer, but in the end, we are all answering for our own lives and the type of answers we give to these questions will determine the quality of life we live.
#1. Are You Good at Maths?
Maths is very difficult. At least, for me. In school, I seemed to understand it clearly anytime the teacher was teaching. It only became a problem when I was asked to do it on the board or when I was asked in an exam so I assumed the teacher always solved the cheaper maths problems and gave us the harder ones. But in real life maths is easy.
This is Maths in real life; find your plus, your equal and your minus. That’s all you need to do. Your plus is someone you could learn from. Someone who adds value to who you are and ensures you move to higher heights. And then you find your Equal; someone who can challenge you—challenge you to be better than who you thought you could be. Don’t move with chickens. You’ll never fly. Move with people who will push you off the cliff so you can discover the strength of your wings. And finally, you find your Minus; Someone you can teach what you’ve learned to. You don’t forget what you know when you teach it to others.
#2. Who is Your Neighbor?
Your Neighbors are people who live close to you such that the kind of life they live can have an influence on your own life. In a way, our neighborhood shapes who we become. Left to our will, we all will choose the kind of people we want to live in our neighborhood but life doesn’t give us such luxury.
That notwithstanding, there’s something we can do to have the perfect neighbors we’ve always dreamed of. Robin Sharma said, “One of the things I’ve done along my quest for self-knowledge is to make a list of all the people I wished lived next door to me.” You can also do same.
In my list, I have James Altucher, American Investor and author of Choose Yourself, I have Steve Jobs, the former Apple CEO, I also have Pastor Mensah Otabil, a teacher, and a great Entrepreneur, Chalie Chaplin, a comedian and actor, Evans Atta Mills, Ghanaian former president, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Etc.
It’s not enough to just make a list of people you wish to live with. It’s everything to know their lives and the qualities that made them who they are. That way, you can learn their ways and allow yourself to be influenced by the kind of life they lived. Whenever I’m going through bad patches, I ask myself “What will Mahatma Gandhi do?” I’ve read a lot of his biographies so the answers come to me in a snap.
#3. Are You a Magnet or a Piece of Wood?
In “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” John Maxwell states that “who you are is who you attract.” That’s the law of magnetism. A magnet attracts its own kind. A piece of wood attracts nothing.
You can’t win alone in life. You do it with people and or through people. You’ll only win when you’re able to attract the right kind of people to yourself. But first, who are you?
a) are you someone who does things for others without expecting a reward.
b) are you someone who’s able to stick to his/her core values without swinging just to please others?
c) are you someone who takes delight in finding solutions and not complaining?
d) are you likable? Someone others feel comfortable to be around with to pursue common goals?
e) are you ready to offer a compliment where a compliment is needed?
f) would you say thank you when someone does something for you?
These characters are the magnetic fields that draw people into you. If you have these, you’re a magnet. Watch as you attract other magnets to your side. You can only win with other magnets.
#4. Is This Really Important?
We don’t have to waste our lives on things that are not important. We are not going to be here for too long. We ought to spend the little times at hand on things that are important. Richard Carlson said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” Our lives are filled with many things that don’t deserve our time—the small stuff. Usually, they appear as urgent and take our attention away. But the fact that it’s urgent doesn’t mean it’s important. Your phone notification might sound urgent but it might not be important?
How do you differentiate what’s urgent and what’s important?
“The result of urgency should be when you do it, and the result of importance should be how long you spend on it.” Chris Croft says. Look for what is important to you and spend a lot of time working on it to get it right. But how do you know the important stuff from the unimportant?
Richard Carlson answers it this way; “If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.” The important questions to ask are these;
a) Will I miss it if it’s taken away from me?
b) Will it matter in the next year or two?
c) Will I regret it someday if I don’t do more of that today?
If the answer to all these questions is no, then it’s not important. Move on to other stuff that will matter to your life in the near future.
#5. Do You Know You’re Dying?
Your answer to this question determines how serious you’ll take your life now. We started dying the very moment we were born but usually, we look at death as something that’s far away from us. We feel uncomfortable when someone broaches the topic of death to us. We are dying but we pretend not to realize. So we waste the time available to us until there is no time left within us. In “Memento Mori,” Muriel Spark said “It is difficult for people of advanced years to start remembering they must die. It is best to form the habit while young.”
Remember you must die and start doing what you ought to do. There’s no time—there’s no time because our tomorrow is not assured. Live your dream today. Pursue your passion. By all means, do whatever gives your life meaning and do it now. There’s nothing to lose when you fail. There’s everything to lose when you don’t try. In “How to Live Before You Die” Steve Jobs said “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Whether you win or lose, someday it wouldn’t matter.
Start forming the habit of remembering death—your death. It will come when it will come. Nobody will escape this final call. We only act surprised when death comes knocking because we didn’t anticipate it. Somewhere, we knew it’s there but we ignore it until it comes for us. Mike Robins believes “Contemplating death in a conscious way doesn’t have to freak us out. Knowing that our human experience is limited and that at some mysterious point in the future our physical body will die, is both sobering and liberating.
Do you Know you are dying? So…
#6. What’s Your Message to the World?
When one day you take the final bow, what would you like the world to remember about you? What is your message to the world? Mohandas Gandhi was asked this same question and he responded: “My life is my message.” He lived his life the way he wanted and allowed the world to be the judge. When the works of your life are good, you’ll need not to explain yourself any further. The world will see it as it is and you’ll become what your work portrays.
When tomorrow comes and you have life, live it the way it sends out your message clearly. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity. When you love someone, let them know. When you have something to say to someone, say it loud and clear. Don’t presume they’ll figure it out. Presumptions distort one’s intentions. Live your message clearly and leave no doubt on the minds of people with regards to your intentions. That way, they’ll get it. That way they’ll know your message.
Are you good at maths? Who is your neighbor? Are you a magnet or a piece of wood? Is this really important? Do you Know you are dying? What’s your message to the world?
READ ALSO: I Failed. I Found My Plus. Now I’m Here
These are the questions of our lives. There are more but I chose to look at these because they are very critical to me. Your life’s questions might be different but there’s only one thing we both can do; answer to life. We better not get it wrong. We ought not to put away these questions as though they don’t exist. Then our sufferings will persist until we find the right answer. “…we can only respond by being responsible.”
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