Living with intent

The three most important questions you can ever ask

“Over the years, I’ve discovered that when you ask people what they really want, what they truly want, they usually answer with some variation of these themes: love, connection, health, purpose, inspiration, and significance.”

—Mallika Chopra

In her recent book, Living with Intent, Mallika Chopra begins by noting three questions that her famous father, Deepak, asked her to consider many times throughout the stages of her life: Who am I?, What do I want?, How can I serve? Truly, questions just don’t get any bigger or more important than those. Whether we pose them to ourselves, to a child, or to a parent they are also the first step in answering the question you asking right now: What next?

Who am I?

Mother, brother, friend, mentor, painter, expert, wiseacre, quilter, engineer. Get out a pen and write as many responses as you can, and then write some more. Keep going for 15 minutes, and list anything at all, abstract, concrete, whatever. Put in some adjectives and adverbs as well: funny, helpful, grumpy. Anything at all.

What do I want?

We think of the big things, but it’s important to think of the little things, too. To see grandkids more often. To see grandkids less often. To have a dog. To shop. To have a voice. To listen to the voices of others. To be part of a team. To love and be loved. Get out a pen and make a list and keep going even after you think you couldn’t possibly think of another thing.

How can I serve?

You don’t have to be Gandhi. We serve others every day, or we don’t. Letting a driver enter the lane in front of us rather than pulling ahead to block them. Smiling at the person at the check out. Listening. Reaching out to a friend. Starting a weekly snooker game. Playing piano and encouraging others to sing along. Volunteering. Offering an opinion on the upcoming election, and considering the opinions of others. Writing a letter. We all want to serve. List what you can offer, and then find a way to offer all those things, be they big, small, or in between. ♦

—Glen Herbert

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