Is This Helpful?

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Lisa Bennett

Tavis Ford @Flickr Tavis Ford @Flickr

Yesterday, not for the first time, I was absorbed with unproductive questions about my life. These tend to be “why” and “what if” questions—about a certain relationship, work project, my relationship to money, and my love of writing.

Why is X the way it is? What if I did Y differently? Would Z really change things?

They are circular, dead-end questions that get me nowhere; and they remind me of something I once heard the Zen teacher John Tarrant say in response to someone who shared a similar semi-scolding inner dialogue:

Is it useful?

If we tell ourselves we are not good at something, when that something is important to us, is it useful? If we tell ourselves others are better than us; we should have done something differently; we need to be other than how we are right now—is that helpful?

Put another way: Are the stories…

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