The Best One Word Question

I realized recently how much I do out of routine.

The routine of my own habits.

The routine of other people’s expectations.

So I started asking myself a question every day.

Many, many times throughout the day.

It’s the best question ever.

And it’s only one word.


Why am I about to RSVP to this event?

Why am I setting up this meeting?

Why am I feeling bummed out right now?

But I don’t let myself end there.

I’ll follow it up by asking again: “no, really, why?

If it’s a complicated why, sometimes I’ll draw it out – create a little diagram that looks like the expanding roots of a tree. I’ll keep asking myself “why?” until I get to the real answer.

My questioning of myself isn’t about passing judgment. It’s about understanding motivation.

Because understanding motivation is the key to helping me separate out what’s truly important from what’s not.

8 thoughts on “The Best One Word Question

  1. Miss Tuggy

    Very true. Here’s another one I like:


    How did I get this way? How do I approach this problem? How do I fix it? How do I want to make decisions?

  2. “My questioning of myself isn’t about passing judgment. It’s about understanding motivation.”

    Hmm, I have a tendency when practicing metacognition to pass judgment rather than simply understand my own motivation. I very much like that you differentiated between the two.

    • jessicahlawrence

      It’s not easy – I definitely catch myself passing subtle judgement all the time…but each time provides an opportunity to realize that and scale it back.

  3. A very very effective and rational method to keep monitoring your smallest activities; because if all the activities are in co-relation with ultimate goals/purpose-only then they are worth doing. By shunning all the useless and worrisome things in our life, we can work wonders. Great post, I guess, I will also start up this exercise of asking myself this ‘one-word question’ now?

  4. very cool to see others concerned about the root cause of their day to day actions. it took me a long time to see the importance of this value, it actually makes live simpler and happier.

    • jessicahlawrence

      Absolutely…I’ve always been someone who thinks a lot…but someone boiling it down to one question makes it even more effective…

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