Why Not . . . Ask the Question ‘What If’?

Oct 26, 2016

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One of my many monthly rituals is sitting down to read the variety of magazines I subscribe to (take a look here). The beauty of subscribing beyond saving money is that you never know when they will arrive exactly, and therefore, when they do, it is a nice surprise to see in the mailbox at the end of the day.

One of the magazines I enjoy reading for staying on top of the most recent cultural news is Vanity Fair. The editor Graydon Carter always offers a letter full of intriguing ideas to ponder (did you read his most recent one in the November ’16 issue? yikes!), but I will admit openly I start in the back of the magazine. Readers of Vanity Fair will know exactly why I do this, and if you begin to read this magazine, I have a feeling you will make this a habit of yours as well. Why? The Proust Questionnaire. Every celebrity or person of interest has the potential to be tapped to answer the standardized list of questions, but as per expectation, they each answer it uniquely. (The Barefoot Contessa recently was the chosen for October’s issue as her new cookbook was about to be released).

The most recent person to answer The Proust Questionnaire was The Daily Show’s new host Trevor Noah, and it was his answer to the question, “What is your motto?” that struck me immediately and prompted me to write today’s Why Not . . . ? post.  His answer: “Everything is helping you.”

As I began to ponder this possibility, I came up with a question, “What if . . . ? and finished the thought with all of the frustrating, confusing and even uncertain (possibly good) events that just didn’t make sense as to why they happened. Then I found a positive reason each would be helping me as I navigate through life. Below is a list of a few of the full statements I came up with. I encourage you to share one of your own “What If . . . ?” statements in the comments.

What if . . . every time you heard “no” when you wanted to hear “yes”, it was enabling you to enjoy and partake in something even more in alignment with your definition of contentment?

What if . . . you weren’t meant to realize your dreams until later so that you might appreciate them all the more?

What if . . . the job interview you thought you aced actually was the warm-up to help you be über prepared for the job opportunity that would become available just around the corner and your previous experience enabled you to successfully acquire what you desired?

What if . . . the childhood you wished you had wouldn’t have given you the gift of becoming a better person to your own children?

What if . . . the pain you have felt has cultivated a well of empathy so vast you have become able to relate to anyone in any circumstance?

What if . . . you weren’t gifted athletically in order for your artistic talents to flourish?

What if . . . the life you thought you wanted hasn’t materialized because the universe knows you will be happier once you listen to yourself and follow the life that was meant for you?

What if . . . the unthinkable hurtful comments were made to help you recognize who truly believes in diversity, acceptance and equality?

What if . . . all the trials you have experienced were in fact “training” that you might be able to be successful against an believably difficult challenge you will encounter?

What if . . . the unexpected surprises and moments of luck were gifts made especially for you?

Now you try it . . .

What if . . . [insert anything that you have been pondering that you cannot make sense of: challenges, unexpected success, etc. and then describe how this event could possibly be helping you as you move through life]?

There are a variety of different ideologies any one of us may ascribe to when it comes to making sense of why what happens in our lives takes place, but I found Trevor Noah’s short and sweet life motto to be a breath of fresh air that I have chosen to carry with me. And each time I run this statement through my mind, my heart lifts a bit, the corners of my mouth begin to curl upward and I cannot help but think that this thing called life is a pretty amazing journey, and I am going to continue to strive forward toward my best each and every day. Are you with me?

 

~View the entire editorial with Eva Herzigova in Vogue Paris’ March 2016 issue here.



16 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Ask the Question ‘What If’?

  1. Thank you, Shannon, for this well-thought article. I found your blog some years ago and since then I adopted you as my fairy godmother. Your wise words helped me so many times it is almost unbelievable given that we never met and probably never will (I live in Slovakia, so the odss are really low on this one). I wish you all the best.

    1. Jana, I recently had my own experience with someone I also called a fairy godmother. Funny you should use that word, the woman will probably never know how much she helped me, but I will always be grateful for her help. Thank you for your kind comment. xoxo

  2. Articulate, eloquent, and timely as always. Shannon, I want to thank you for being such an inspiration. Listening to you and following you on your journey is not only helping me but it’s also helping me to wrap to my 13-year-old daughter to be more authentic in her life.

  3. What a beautifully written post. Your inspirational posts are the gentle guide to me pursuing an authentic life. Many thanks to you.

  4. I love this post and have probably experienced half of those “what-if’s” and at this point in my life understand the value of them. It reminds me of the saying “Life gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.”

  5. Shannon, just as your magazines’ arrival give you a surprised boost, your words have given me many; This week/month has not been “one to celebrate” for me; however I have gratitude for surviving more than I thought that I could! So
    kudos to us, everyone!

  6. What an incredible motto! Everything is helping you seems like such a simple sentence yet there’s so much complexity behind it. To think that every single thing in your life, good and bad, has happened to you to help you in one way or another is almost liberating, like lifting the burden of having to understand every bit of your life when it happens to you.

    I will be holding onto this quote for quite some time!

    Emily.

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