1: When Dr. Daniel Friedland would lead workshops, he would ask attendees to close their eyes and pay attention to the feelings in their bodies.
He would then “instruct them to say three firm ‘no’s’ silently in their mind, much like their parents may have told them as a child,” he writes in Leading Well from Within. “I invite them to notice whatever physical sensations, feelings, or thoughts they experience as a result.”
Next, Danny would have them set aside this experience and clear their minds. “Then I invite them to say three warm, affirming “yeses” and to notice what this feels like.”
“How can two simple words, within seconds, create such a different experience in [our] body, mind, and being?” he would ask.
“Much like chaos theory, where very small changes rippling through a complex system can lead to a massive change in output,” writes Danny. “Think how our no and yes ripple through the complex system of our brain, recruiting neural networks associated with each of these words to create our profoundly different experiences.”
2: Yesterday, we looked at the profound impact of asking ourselves the right type of questions. Danny stopped asking himself, “What’s wrong with me?” and asked instead: “How can I find my way home?”
When Danny “chewed on” the first question, he was priming “all its associated subconscious circuitry, which ultimately resulted in a painful threat response,” he writes. “In contrast, when I asked, ‘How can I find my way home? ‘ my brain recruited. . . neurons and networks that lead [me] toward creativity and fulfillment.”
“In other words, I was framing my question creatively rather than reactively, and it made all the difference in my experience,” he notes.
Asking inspiring questions “establishes neural grooves that become [our] neural destiny,” writes Danny. If we repeatedly ask, “What’s wrong with other people?” we are likely to become more cynical and reactive.
In contrast, if we repeatedly ask, “What does this challenge have to teach me?” we “will more deeply establish [a] growth mindset and become a more creative person.”
3: At the time Danny had this insight, he was one of the leading experts on evidence-based medicine (EBM). He was convinced he was on the wrong path professionally. He felt a strong calling to pursue his passion for helping others navigate stress and lead more meaningful lives.
Another thought struck Danny. The EBM framework he’d been teaching helps healthcare providers ask better questions. That same circular, four-step, scientific decision-making process also applies to navigating uncertainty in our lives:
Step 1: Ask the right clinical questions . . . becomes: Ask better questions.
Step 2: Find the best available scientific research in computer databases to answer these questions . . . becomes: Find more inspiring answers.
Step 3: Evaluate the research with a series of study assessment guides . . . becomes: Evaluate our answers to ensure they feel right.
Step 4: Apply the research to make the best possible healthcare decisions with the patient . . . becomes: Apply the answers by taking purposeful action in our life.
The EBM questions became the basis for Danny’s “Ask, Find, Evaluate, and Apply” cycle, which ultimately became the heart of his work. The four steps “form a spiral of mindfulness-based inquiry and action that transforms [our] internal dialogue to catalyze [a] growth mindset,” Danny writes.
“I then saw the congruence and meaning in my journey. EBM was not the detour I had initially thought; it was, in fact, the path I was meant to travel,” Danny reflects.
“Each step of the EBM framework helps us both navigate external uncertainty with science and our internal uncertainty with inspiration,” he writes. “It unifies science and spirituality on our journey to health and wholeness, which, for me, is the concept of ‘finding my way home.'”
Reflection: Consider a current stressful situation. How might I: Ask better questions, find more inspiring answers, evaluate the answers to ensure they feel right, and apply the answers by taking purposeful action in our life?
Action: Journal about my answers to the questions above.