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What Asking Questions Does For The Brain And Well-Being

Your Brain On Questions

Did you know the question mark was created in the 8th Century? that guy right there. Along with the first use of the heavy plow, iron horseshoes, and the invention of the harp. While the Vikings were invading Europe, this curious little mark, made its mark in our discourse. It cemented in writing a practice we’ve been doing for long before that.

The asking of a question.

It is theorized that we started asking questions pretty much when we became sentient millions of years ago. It’s hard to fathom being human without this ability. We all have it, but I question (wink wink) if we use it enough.

Philosophers across millennia have used the power of questioning to take our species into the cosmos, into the depths of our minds, and to expand our knowledge in ways that have given us so many valuable advances in life. From medicine to physics, to religion, to technology, to the creation of societies, down to what the heck is on our to-list for today?

He who asks a question may be a fool for five minutes. But he who does not ask a question is a fool for life. – Chinese Proverb

It is my belief that life becomes more fulfilling not by doing more, but by asking better.

Perhaps it’s worth a reminder of what sages and the first sapiens have known all along.

That questions are good for us! 

Thankfully, science has given us more clarity as to why (in case you weren’t convinced already).

Here are 3 reasons why questions are good for you.

Stops multi-tasking in its tracks!

According to a Fast Company article, there were studies done on the effect of questions on the brain. And there is an interesting insight I’d like to point out. Questions force the brain to STOP multitasking. So if the flood of To-Do list thinking is plaguing you, questions stop it in its tracks. “Questions trigger a mental reflex known as “instinctive elaboration.” When a question is posed, it takes over the brain’s thought process. And when your brain is thinking about the answer to a question, it can’t contemplate anything else.”

Questions increase intentions

“Behavioral scientists have also found that just asking people about their future decisions significantly influences those decisions, a phenomenon known as the “mere measurement effect.” Back in 1993, social scientists Vicki Morwitz, Eric Johnson, and David Schmittlein conducted a study with more than 40,000 participants that revealed that simply asking someone if people were going to purchase a new car within six months increased their purchase rates by 35%.” Source: Fast Company, “Want To Know What Your Brain Does When It Hears A Question?”

So if there’s something you want to do or a goal you want to reach, ask questions around it first and you will increase the chances you’ll do it!

Calms the brain

In this article the Neuroscience of Asking Insightful Questions: “When you ask a question instead of giving the answer, the entire brain gets active as it reflects, releasing serotonin (allowing it to relax). This encourages gathering intelligence from all areas of the brain, allowing for more insight than would happen if you provided solutions to others. New neuronal connections begin to be made as the brain moves closer to finding solutions.”

Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, even asking “why do I feel overwhelmed?” will help you.

How to make asking questions a part of your life

I start my day with a question. That’s a practice of mine that has really helped me set the tone for my day. A question that isn’t “what do I have to do today?” or “where did I put my glasses again?”. I’m taking real solid, thought-provoking, positively framed questions. I write them down and put them on post-it notes so I can see them and remember them. If you’re interested in what specific questions I ask in the morning you can go here to learn more.

The point is to not ask questions later! Ask questions first and give your brain and well-being the calm it needs.

To learn more about Cristina DiGiacomo, Thought Council Executive Leader and Philosopher-in-Residence for the Women’s Leadership Council, go here.

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