Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Are Questions Your Answer to Happiness?

Access Consciousness founder Gary Douglas explains how turning the standard self-help formula on its head could actually be a lot more helpful.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.

Take a walk through your local bookstore and you will probably find a self-help section. And more than likely, it’s fairly large. The global self-help industry is reportedly worth around $11 billion per year and a quick online search of “the answer to happiness” will reveal nearly 5 million results. People are obviously looking for it. But how many actually find it? Look around. Not much happiness is abounding.

Perhaps that’s because we have it backward. We keep looking for the answers that will create happiness. But what if they don’t exist? What if there is no secret to life? And, what if the willingness to ask questions actually opens the door to the happiness you seek?

3 Top Tips to Finding Happiness

1. Recognize that there is nothing wrong with you.

The reason the self-help industry fails most people is because they start with one subtle-yet-damaging conclusion: that there is something wrong with you. Most programs ask the individual to acknowledge what is wrong about them and then take steps to fix, improve, or neutralize those issues.

What if there is nothing wrong with you? What if buying into the idea that you are damaged and somehow in need of being fixed is what keeps you stuck in unhappiness? Always searching. Never finding.

A healthier and more effective approach to self-help is to give people the awareness that nothing is wrong with them and that they need to stop making themselves wrong. All that is required for positive change is a more open mind.

If you have lived your life believing that you are wrong and that you need to be fixed, start asking this question, “What’s right about me that I’m not getting?” As you ask this question, the negative thoughts and feelings that keep you from happiness start to dissipate and you gain a sense of the gift you are.

See also Feeling Stuck? Try Self-Inquiry for Resistance

2. Curiosity is key.

Research has shown that curious people—those who are constantly asking questions and looking for new possibilities—tend to enjoy higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being.

Take kids as an example. In case you haven’t noticed, they tend to have a higher level of happiness than most. They play. They imagine. They explore. They ask questions. They are curious.

Each one of us has an innate awareness of what decisions will bring us the best of love, life, health, finance, and business. The trick to revealing this unconscious wisdom is to keep your mind open to every possibility—to never seek an answer to anything. To forever and always ask questions.

3. Practice asking questions.

Most of us have spent our entire lives looking for the answer. Not just any answer—the right answer. Recognizing that questions are what catapults us into the life, the joy, and the satisfaction we desire is a start. But, if asking questions is new to you, it might take some practice. Here are a few typical answers or conclusions you may be familiar with and questions you can ask instead:

  • Rather than saying, “This situation is so bad” or “Wow, this situation is amazing,” ask “How does it get any better than this?” This question triggers your unconscious self to make an unpleasant situation better and an uplifting situation even greater.
  • Instead of believing that you are a victim of life and that happiness is given or taken, ask “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?” This question empowers you to realize that happiness is a choice and can be called upon at any time.
  • Instead of saying “I am stuck” or “I quit,” ask “What else is possible that I have never considered?” This question triggers your unconscious awareness to look for the various solutions and possibilities available to you.

Happiness is available to you. Recognize that you are not wrong. Have a sense of curiosity about everything that comes your way. Ask questions rather than seeking answers and coming to conclusions. Happiness is just a choice. What choice can you make today?

See also A Meditation Practice To Let In Joy + Happiness


Gary Douglas is a bestselling author, business innovator, and founder of Access Consciousness®, a set of simple-yet-profound tools currently transforming lives in 176 countries. He has authored or co-authored 17 books including the Barnes and Noble #1 bestselling novel, The Place. An avid investor and entrepreneur, Gary is a vocal advocate of Conscious Capitalism and benevolent leadership. He co-hosts a weekly radio on Voice America and has featured in numerous TV shows, print media, and online publications around the world. He is renowned for his unique insights on love, relationships, money, business, aging, leadership, and emotional freedom. For more information on Gary Douglas, visit