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What stands between you and what you most desire?

Your answers might relate to a lack of money, time, support from family, or all of these. Obstacles can seem so numerous, so obvious, and so tough to change.

You can relate to obstacles in many ways. Typical responses are to explain them or resist them.

Both responses take a lot of time and energy. And both anchor you firmly in the past, keeping your focus on areas of your life that are not working.

To immediately generate alternatives, remember this simple analogy:

Imagine that you’re driving down a scenic highway. Suddenly, you come to a huge rock in the middle of the road.

At this moment, you have several options. You could try to explain how the rock ended up there. You could also go into resistance mode, complaining about the carelessness of highway construction or the lack of state funding for rock removal.

Or, you could bypass all this negativity and remove the obstacle from your life at once. Instead of explaining the rock or resisting it, just drive around it.

When faced with obstacles, people often respond with questions based on explanation and resistance, such as:

Why am I so alone? 
Why does this always happen to me?
Why am I such a failure?

However, you always have another option. You can ask questions that help you drive around any obstacle in your life.

Questions have uncanny power. Questions direct your attention and, along with it, how you think and how you feel. If you want to create different thoughts, feelings, and results into your life, then ask different questions.

Start now by skipping the why questions and begin asking what questions:

1. What’s the lesson here?

There’s an old saying about learning from experience: Beware of the person with twenty years of experience. This may consist of one year of learning and nineteen years of repetition.

The point is that experiences do not come prepackaged with empowering lessons. Everything hinges on how you interpret experiences, and your interpretations can change over the years.

A single event can take you a step closer to emotional contraction or expansion. It all depends on how you interpret that event.

Psychologist Martin Seligman has made a career by studying how human beings interpret their experience. He notes that each of us has an explanatory style. People who chronically feel helpless tend to explain events in ways that are:

  • Permanent: “I always get confused when trying to learn something new.”
  • Personal: “I’m just no good at meeting people.”
  • Pervasive: “I’m just the kind of person who fails to follow through, no matter what kind of goals I set.”

Optimistic people use a different style. They explain events in ways that are:

  • Temporary: “When I feel confused, I ask questions that lead me to understanding.”
  • External: “I find it hard to talk to people in bars, so I invite them to quiet restaurants instead.”
  • Specific: “I find it challenging to meet long-term goals, so, for now, I will focus on achieving short-term objectives.”

You should interpret these obstacles as yield signs rather than stop signs.

These are signals that the world is expanding to accommodate your growth. Instead of resisting a challenge, just lean into it. Ask yourself: How can I interpret this event in a more powerful way? What’s a positive lesson that’s waiting here to be learned?

2. What’s great about having this problem?

There’s an easy answer to this question: “Nothing!” However, looking beyond that knee-jerk response can quickly open up your perspective.

Tony Robbins offers an example in his book Awakening the Giant Within. He recalls a time when he’d been on the road for nearly 100 days out of 120. Returning to his office, he found a stack of urgent memos and a list of 100 phone calls that he needed to personally return. Before making these discoveries, he was tired. Now he felt exhausted.

Tony managed to shift his internal state simply by asking: What’s great about having this problem? He then realized that just a few years ago, he would have been grateful to get calls from twenty people—let alone one hundred people with national reputations.

This insight was enough to break his pattern of frustration. He found himself feeling grateful that so many people he loved and respected were willing to connect with him.

3. What’s my next action?

This question shines a spotlight on solutions. No matter what happens, you can choose what to say and do in response. Rather than manifesting resistance or explanation, you can choose your next action.

Successful people hold a bias for action. Add inspiration and intention to the mix, and you gain an unstoppable momentum.


As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and speaks around the world on this subject. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!