Ask Your Main Question

We all have questions. Some of those questions suck.

When I was at the deepest levels of my depression, I had a depressing question. “How can I make this pain stop?”

Above the questions that we deal with from day to day, we have a MAIN question. It’s THE question we spend our whole day with.

“How can I put a man on Mars?”

“When will I find the one?”

“How do I not mess my kid up like I am?”

Our MAIN question is like a pair of glasses we see the world through. Elon may see the world like a launchpad. Kids see a playground, and parents see a petri-dish.

So, 

My main question of “How do I make this pain stop?” may seem useful to ask…but..

What you focus on brings more of what you focus on. 

As if M. Knight Shyamalan was narrating my life, an unexpected twist came from pondering my main question 24/7. 

By continuously asking, “How do I get rid of the pain?” I kept REMINDING MYSELF of the pain I was trying to escape. All. Day. Long. (and all night).

I was focused on pain, So I stayed in my pain and remained depressed. And so, I fell deeper into the hole.

Getting out would take calling someone I hope you never need to talk to but who I fully support you talking to. -I’ll tell you at the end.

So, enough sad talk; how did I get out of it?

With the coaching of someone else, I changed my question. 

“So, Jeff, how would your life feel if you weren’t depressed?”

Step One: 

I thought of what my life would be like If I could get out of the pain of depression. What were sone of the things I would do if I felt this way?

  • I’d be full of joy! 
  • I’d be able to make people laugh again.
  • I’d get in shape.
  • I’d do something off my bucket list! (Like audition for a play)
  • I’d conquer my fear of heights.

Step Two:

I started doing those things I would do if I wasn’t depressed. Just a little at first, but as I began to notice how good it felt to live again, I filled more and more time with doing things I yearned for.

My mornings started earlier and were filled with great books, coffee with friends and people I wanted to learn from. 

My evenings became filled with learning new skills, exercise, and anything but sitting on the couch staring at my phone. I was on a roll.

Step Three:

I got the fuck out of depression without drugs. 

  • I started testing jokes on my friends; some killed, some sank, and either way, they all made people laugh.
  • I applied for and accepted an invitation and delivered a TEDx Talk.
  • I auditioned for the musical Spamalot! Instead of writing about it, I published my journal entry about it. It was the most shared and viral piece I’ve ever written, and it was literally my journal.
  • I started going to my local climbing center. One night, we did a night climb: no lights, only headlamps, and you’re 40′ off the ground. I made friends while learning to climb, and I had a great time. I did almost pee myself a few times, but no one could tell.
  • I started writing my soul instead of what SEO templates wanted me to write.

The more I lived as if I weren’t depressed, the depression lifted.

It’s like that with a lot of things.

Instead of: “How do I lose this weight?” 

It’s “What would I do if I lost it already?” Then, do more of it. 

  • Work out, even for 20 minutes, a few times per week. 
  • Pick up a new sport. 
  • Hire a coach. What is the #1 difference between champions and novices? Champions have coaches.
  • I’d talk better to myself.
  • I’d meet someone and not be worried if they’re judging me.
  • I’d smile a real smile in photos because I know where I’m going.

Our questions guide our focus. 

We get more of whatever we focus on.

So why am I telling you this?

Cause it can change your life. 

It’s been years since I called the suicide hotline, but when I did, I didn’t get the person telling me that life is always worth it. I got someone who asked me better questions than I had been and encouraged me to keep asking. 

It was the most impactful few minutes of coaching I’d ever received.

If I ever find her again. Or, if she finds this… I kept asking.

So today, my question is: “How can I inject more of my unique gifts, passion for all things laughter, and a little more meaning into the lives of others?”

P.S. If you’ve ever called 988, you should be damn proud. 

We all have questions. Some of those questions suck.

But all of the answers are there; focus on the answer.

Have fun,

J

TLDR:

Stuck on something? 

Ask what you would do if you had already solved it.

Start doing some of that and check in with yourself. What’s changed? It could be everything.

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