Friday, March 13

Who? What? When? Where? Why??

Questions are an essential part of learning things about life.  If no one ever asked questions, no one would ever pursue answering them, and there is a possibility we would still live in a world with no wheels, no electricity, or even no cell phones!! All great things started with a quizzical thought that provoked a person to find out an answer.  March 14th is National Ask a Question Day, a day to find the answers to your most urgent questions.  People ask questions for many reasons, and here are the top 12:

? To gather information
? To learn and teach
? To think clearly, critically, and strategically
? To challenge assumptions
? To clarify and confirm listening
? To stimulate productive conversation
? To build and maintain relationships
? To reflect and build awareness
? To solve problems and make decisions
? To set and accomplish goals
? To negotiate and resolve conflicts
? To create and innovate new possibilities

I would say the most common reason is to gather information.  These kinds of questions are asked every day in the classroom and in the business world.  These questions lead to the questions that help us learn, teach, and develop critical thinking skills.  In almost every class that I have been in, the teacher tells his students "there is no such thing as a stupid question."  This statement lets people know that all questions are appreciated and encouraged because it is very likely that someone will have the same question as you.  Teachers want their students to ask them questions because they will never know if they are getting the material across in an effective way if no one is responding to them.

I'm sure many of us have learned the hard way that if we don't ask questions, the teacher may decide to call on a random person to answer a question of his choosing.  In these scenarios, teachers have an uncanny way of sensing the least prepared person to answer their question.  This person may be sleeping, texting in class, or just full on spacing out, but when they are called on they have no idea what to do.  There is usually a deer in the headlights look, a few moments where they are wondering "what do I do??", and then they will finally ask, can you repeat the question? It has happened to all of us.

The next most common questions asked in everyday life would have to be the ones that challenge assumptions.  I remember clearly, when I was little, asking "why?" about 50 times a day.  When I learned that word, it unlocked a world of learning new things.  Every time I asked it, I got answers to things I had no knowledge of before.  It was amazing!  The downside to asking why so much, was when you hit a road block.  Your parents got tired of answering all of those questions, so they would cut you off with the infamous "Because I said so" or even just "Because".  That was the worst.

Questions can also help stimulate productive conversations that help people build relationships with others.  Imagine meeting a person for the first time and neither of you ever asking a question.  It would be very awkward and unnatural.  Both of you would be standing there, waiting for the other to say something about themselves that may provoke a thought for you to share.  Thankfully, humans are a curious species and we ponder things constantly.  There are the essential 'getting to know you' questions one asks like, "what is your major?" or "where are you from?".  But once people get to know each other better, they can get into some deep discussions from just one thought provoking question.  

In honor of this perplexing day, take the time to find answers to all of the questions that pop into your head tomorrow.  Look up words you don't know in the dictionary, ask someone you see how they are doing and really mean it, or type some questions into Google or Cha-cha for the heck of it.  Your brain has an endless capacity for use it!

Dream as if you'll live forever...

James Dean once said, "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."  This is one of my favorite quotes.  I first heard it when I was in elementary school--my friend had a poster in her room with a picture of James Dean and that quote on it.  I didn't really think much of it at the time but now I realize how much meaning it has.  Wednesday March 11th was "Dream 2009" Day; a day to think about your dreams and how you can make them a reality.  It is so important for people to dream.  Dreams can be conscious wishes or subconscious desires brought to life in our sleep.  Either way, it is a way of expressing our true desires and aspirations in life.

People have been analyzing dreams for centuries, trying to figure out their true meaning and picking apart every detail of them to look for what each piece represents.  Back in ancient times they used to believe that prophecies were sent to people through their dreams.  People would come flooding to the kings and tell them of images they had in their dreams, in hope to becoming an assistant to the king because they had helped him.  The ancient Romans and Greeks believed dreams to be messages from their gods and often brought dream interpreters along to battles.  Some even believed that the dream world was even more important than the real world because we have no control over what happens when we dream.  

Although I believe dreams that happen when we are sleeping are very important insights into our inner thoughts, in my opinion conscious dreams are the more important of the two.  Whether it is a "daydream" or a dream you write out on paper and put on your mirror to be reminded of every day, these dreams are what keep us going.  Dreams are the open-ended version of goals.  A goal has a set deadline and a specific line of tasks that are to be accomplished in the process of achieving it.  A dream, however, can be as broad or as specific as you want it to be.  When we are young kids we dream of being a ballerina or a firefighter because when we are just learning things about the world, those are the most impressionistic figures in our lives.  As we get older, we dream of being things like teachers or astronauts.  And when we are older still, we realize which of those things are the most important to us.  

Dreams are the first step at becoming who you want to be and what you want to achieve in your life.  There are no limits to how much a person can dream.  So dream big.  And more importantly, don't give up on your most important dreams; make them happen.