In a way, the questions can be used as a method for decluttering our lives and focusing only those things that fuel passionate, joyful living. When you consider that everything in your life is there because you put it there or choose to keep it there, then you're responsible for anything in your life that drains your energy. Additionally, anything missing that you wish you had is missing because of you, too. So if there's a need for a shake up in your life, put the things you focus on and the things you're considering introducing into your life to these four questions:
• Does it support my comfortable survival? At the most basic, you need water, shelter, food, general health and wellbeing to survive comfortably. If you're short on any one of those things, your focus on the pursuit of passion in your life will be challenged. And by comfortable, I don't mean material comfort in the sense of living plush. I mean the mental and physical ease that takes the focus off survival and allows you to focus on adding a layer of joy on top of that survival. Whatever those things are, be grateful for them because they make you more fortunate than many in this world.
• Does it support something I'm passionate about? Lots of people have less than fabulous jobs. But if that job is bankrolling top-of-the-line scrapbooking supplies so you can spend time every day or every week scrapbooking your heart out, then it supports something you're passionate about. If you work too many hours to ever enjoy a minute of scrapbooking, however, then you need to question why you continue do it. A lesser paying job may give you the time you need to pursue your passion.
This isn't just about your job, though. When you consider your relationships, thoughts, commitments and other obligations in life, hold them to this test. People and obligations—and especially thoughts—that drain you take you away from your happiness. And if your thoughts include how much you hate the job that is bankrolling your scrapbooking habit, then you need to change those thoughts, too. Gratitude for what you have is the fastest way to get what you want.
• Do I do it out of love? Sometimes we do things we're not passionate about and don't support our survival, but we do it out of love. Speaking to your daughter's class on career day is one of them. Going to Open Mike Night to watch your husband play the same song you've been hearing all week is another. Picketing a local chicken farmer to promote animal rights is another. And, frankly, doing things like working out and eating tofu is another. There are things you do out of love—for someone dear to you, for a cause close to your heart or for yourself. Those things also fuel your passion for life. If you're doing something just because you have to—or if you act obligated even though it's serving a passion—you're not doing anyone any favors.
• Is it something that makes me happy? This is probably the best and easiest reason to do something. And it includes things that might look silly or that others might think strange or out of character for you. One thing I do that makes me happy is to howl at full voice with my dogs from time to time. The neighbors think it's weird, but who cares? I also watch a lot of TV and never read books, which many find unusual for a writer and deep thinker. Those opinions mean nothing to me. I only get one opportunity to be me and I'm not going to spend it conforming to make others happy.
So those are the questions. If you can answer yes to any one of them, then it's worth keeping. But if you can't honestly answer yes to any questions—or if something you think you're doing out of love, for example, is really being done out of obligation—kick it to the curb. Someone else will pick up where you left off. Life is too short to clutter it with anything that doesn't support happiness and inspire your soul.