I'm reading How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J Gelb. It was recommended on one of the forums I frequent. It's a book about living from the inside out.
One of the exercises the author suggests is to write one hundred questions that are important to you and do it in one sitting. They can be about anything. How can I make more money? Why doesn't my significant other understand when I talk about a particular subject? How did my mother survive what she survived? What is the meaning of my existence? From the banal to the profound, write them down.
The author says that the first twenty or so will be "off the top of your head." But in the remainder, themes start to emerge. And in the latter part of the list, you might discover some pretty interesting stuff.
It took me a surprisingly short period of time to complete the exercise, maybe thirty or forty minutes. The author predicted I'd repeat myself: same questions worded differently, several times in the session. That happened, but I didn't realize it until I went to the final step.
There are a couple of other steps that the author leads you through, but you end up finding your themes. I feel like I know myself well, but I was fascinated to complete the exercise. The issues that trouble me in the lonely hours of sleepless nights were as plain as the ink on the page. I just hadn't taken the time to put them into words. I found five questions, that I turned into five statements, about my life.
1. I want to interact with others in an authentic and genuine way.
2. I want to bring joy and meaning to my life in every activity I do.
3. I want my own opinion of myself to be more important to me than the opinions of others.
4. I want to recognize and minimize when fear is playing a role in my life. This is fear of anything: getting published again, other's opinions, being lonely, aging.
5. I want to be aware of when my own emotional intensity is skewing my judgment and correct for that.
I felt good about doing the exercise this week. And I've referred back to my insights when I've felt myself getting fearful, angry or flippant.