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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


November 12th, 2019


The ability to form a question is our most vital tool.  It might even be our only real tool from which we derive every other tool we’ve created.   Everything we’ve created has stemmed from some version of


how would I do this?




what can I do with that?


Each step in the process is usually a new question about what we are doing.  And when we find ourselves stuck in the process, one useful thing to wonder is whether or not we have the best question in hand in order to proceed forward productively and efficiently.


This isn’t something we necessarily pickup naturally, but the ability to ask:


Why am I asking and pursuing this current question? 


Can save us loads of time that would otherwise be wasted.  We sometimes catch ourselves in this circumstance.  We’re wrapped up in our thoughts, perhaps we’re looking for something around the house that we’ve lost, but in the process we find something else we forgot we owned, and we notice that it’s broken, but easily fixed, and before we know it, we’ve spent twenty minutes tinkering with it, when suddenly we step back from what we’re doing and ask: what am I doing wasting my time with this?  Wasn’t I looking for something?  Oh yea…..

We can replicate this sort of reboot by having some meta-questions on hand:




Why am I trying to answer this question?


How am I trying to answer this question?


Should I be trying to think of a better question?



It’s helpful at this point to remember how Tinkered Thinking defines a question.  A question is an open-ended concept that creates forward momentum.


In that framework, just about everything we do can be viewed as stemming from some sort of question.  You go to your job in the morning because at some point in the past you asked yourself: how am I going to make money?


Perhaps it’s time to revisit that question.  For example, we can apply that third meta-question to this query about money.  That is: Should I be trying to think of a better question?


A potential example of a better question with regards to making money might be:  Am I aware of all the different ways that people are making money today?


This is essentially asking:  is my information about the world up-to-date.


Perhaps we apply that third metaquestion again:  Is there a better question?


And we realize that we can energize our thinking about new, potentially better questions by using another metaquestion:


Why am I trying to answer this question?


Essentially, why am I trying to answer this question about making money?


The logic is pretty simple:  So I can eat and pay rent and all that stuff.


But like a child equipped with a Why-Shovel, we can keep digging:


What’s the point of paying rent and eating, why am I trying to make those happen?


The answer here seems obvious but people often don’t face it fully.


The answer is, so you can live.


But living really refers to time well spent, not time grinded up at a day job.


So now we can return to the original question: How am I going to make money?, and rephrase it in a much deeper and potentially life-altering way:


How am I going to spend the time I have alive?



Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 576: MetaQuestions

Tinkered Thinking

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