A Guiding Word

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(Lose the Net by Rasmus Faber Courtesy of Epidemic Music)

How amazing it is that good questions lead us so naturally to good answers, and how beautiful questions lead to even better answers! When we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we’ve opened the doors to discovery and wonder and greater understanding.

I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that matter every day.

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This year’s Beautiful Question newsletters and podcasts will be a bit briefer and hopefully more concise and more clear.

Join me this week as we consider choosing a single word or short phrase to guide our actions and thoughts and choices as we move through the coming year. Stay with me.

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photo: Scott Lennox


As the new year begins, I think about where we’ve been and where we are and ponder where we’re going. I also ponder how we’ll get there, and as always, I have a few ideas about that.

In the same way a good compass keeps us heading in the right direction, its needle always pointing to true north, a carefully chosen thought can help us stay “on course” as we take ourselves where we want to go. And when we’re really listening, that same thought can also keep us from going where we don’t want to go.

For example, imagine you’ve been harsh with someone around you or with yourself, perhaps. You didn’t mean to be critical or judgmental or dismissive. You didn’t mean to be hurtful or unkind. Afterward, you try and convince yourself that the words just slipped out, but you know better. The truth is that you did what you did because you weren’t being mindful in that moment. You weren’t allowing your own wisdom to guide your actions.

So, let’s look at that scene again, but from a very different starting point. Just as before, you feel stirred up or agitated by what’s happening. In fact, you feel so frustrated or angry that your first impulse is to say something critical or lash out. But this time, you remember the thought you’ve chosen to guide your actions this year. This time, you pause long enough to hear yourself whispering something useful and healthy in the back of your mind. This time, the words you speak are measured and clear and honest without being harmful. This time, you speak your mind and heart.

So, what made the difference?

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It’s so simple, and yet so effective. As the year began, you mindfully decided on a single word that would be your guiding thought for the next twelve months. Like a compass needle, you chose a word that would serve as your inner reminder to think and act in ways that keep you aligned with who and what you really are.

As you remember that word, perhaps quietly whispering it to yourself from time to time, you find it easier to let your agitation drain away. And as it does, you return to a sense of clarity and balance. You relax and you return to thinking and behaving like your truest self.

Let’s say your guiding word is “Allowing,” as it is for a friend of mine. Remembering that, you don’t lash out or speak impulsively. Instead, you remind yourself, “I’m allowing this person to be as they are. It’s not my place to change them.” Or, “I’m allowing myself to stay calm and open right now. I don’t have to lash out.” Or, “As I allow myself to take a step back from this, I’m allowing myself to stay peaceful.”

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As another example, let’s say that you’ve been self-critical for quite a while. You might even have a hard time remembering a time when you weren’t unduly harsh or judgmental with yourself. You can believe me when I tell you that it’s not the authentic you. It’s something you learned.

But this year, remembering your guiding word, “Allowing,” you stop yourself in mid-thought and replace self-criticism with thoughts of self-acceptance and self-kindness. This time, you remember that you have chosen to allow yourself to be as you are and to grow in new and healthier ways. This time, instead of demanding that you think or speak or act perfectly, you allow yourself to be a human being among other human beings.

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The choices for a guiding word are almost endless.
Consider these possibilities. Allowing. Acceptance. Open. Free. Loving. Peaceful. Gentleness. Balance. Kindness. Healing. Strength. Tenderness. Integrity. Relax.

Because this can be such a valuable and personally rewarding thing to do, I invite you to spend a while choosing a “verbal compass” that will help you get where you want to go in this coming year.

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This week’s Beautiful Questions are crafted to help you do just that, guiding yourself in rewarding ways for the next twelve months, one day at a time. After you’ve pondered them, write and tell me about what you decide. I’m listening.

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Question One: What happens when you behave impulsively with nothing to consciously guide you from the inside out?

Question Two: What clear and simple thought—perhaps a single word—would redirect your actions in healthier and more effective ways?

Question Three: In what ways will you remind yourself of that word, repeatedly bringing it from the back of your mind to the foreground of your awareness?

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As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!

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I’m happy we can engage this way as we consider things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And at thebeautifulquestion.com, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement and peace out into the world.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

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