Research (and common sense) suggests that thinking about the future—a process known as prospection—can help us lead more generous and fulfilled lives. Mindfulness is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Focusing on the moment can improve our well-being, foster compassion, and help our relationships.

In the natural unfolding process of life, we set about answering four questions basic to how we live. We do this without even thinking about doing it. We develop answers, then we develop better answers, then we develop even better answers… and so on and on for life.


  1. WHAT do I want to BE?
  2. WHAT do I want to DO?
  3. WHAT do I want to HAVE?
  4. HOW will I accomplish these objectives?

Since we do this unconsciously all the time, why not take charge and formalize the process?

Indeed, we might be better off if from time to time we sat down, took the time to formerly ask and answer these questions, took some notes along the way, then talked about our answers with people who care about us. Yup, yup, yup.

Talking about our lives with people who care about us, what a concept.

Think about it. The greatest form of knowledge is knowing ourselves. Knowing ourselves starts with knowing our thoughts. Our mindset is nothing more than a compilation of our thoughts. Our thoughts have incredible power to shape our life and the lives of others, because our thoughts and interpretations of circumstances directly influence our beliefs, and ultimately, our actions.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or cannot, you’re right.” In other words, what we think is what we get. That is why it is critical that we know our thoughts.

We all draw into our life that which we constantly think about—good or bad. If we are always thinking about why we can’t seem to get a break, or when the next shoe will drop in our relationship, or why we don’t get as much recognition as our colleagues, then we are programming our mind (and those around us) to turn these thoughts into our reality. Negative thoughts are landmines along the pathway to being our best. Fortunately, the reverse is also true. If we consistently and intentionally nurture positive thoughts and expectations, we paint a picture of future success on the walls of our mind.

Some people ask, “How can I be positive when negative situations are a reality—they just show up in everyday life?” Bad things do happen, and they sometimes just show up. However, it is our interpretation that makes a situation negative. A situation doesn’t drag us down or lift you up, but the way we think about it does.

The great news is that we are in control of what we think. Yes, we are. No one else has this power unless we give it away. We are the conductor of our own thoughts.

The most important and pervasive source of input is each of us alone. No one is with us as much as we are. We have an opportunity every day to consciously give ourselves positive input and reinforce our own positive actions.

A friend of mine has a practice of giving herself mental high fives. That is, she frequently tells herself (often out loud), “Great job, Julie!” We all talk with many people each day, but the most important conversations are the one we have with ourselves. Our mind can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy. Input from others, the world around us, and ourselves plant expectational seeds of success or failure in our mind. Seek positive inputs and we will improve our chances of producing positive outputs and responses. The choice is solely ours.

For the best possible life keep asking yourself the Four Life Generating Questions.