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3 Questions to Improve Your Life

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3 Questions to Improve Your Life

By Matthew Solan, Experience Life

Who among us hasn’t searched for solutions on how to live a happier and healthier life? Little do we realize that in order to discover the answers, we must first learn how to ask the proper questions. Naikan (pronounced NI-KON) is a Japanese word that means “inside looking” or “introspection.” It’s also a structured method of self-questioning and self-reflection that helps stimulate a renewed sense of appreciation and insight about our circumstances.

Yoshimoto Ishin, a devout Buddhist of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan, developed Naikan in the 1940s. His strong religious spirit led him to practice mishirabe, an arduous and difficult method of meditation. Wishing to make such introspection available to others, he developed Naikan as a method that could be more widely experienced.

Three Easy Pieces
Naikan is quite simple. The entire practice revolves around three questions that engage strategically with your attention. Similar to logs that make up a raft, each is strong on its own but provides even more support when tied together with the others. The three questions are:

  1. What have I received from ______?
  2. What have I given to ______?
  3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused ______?

What’s special about these questions is that they provide a foundation for reflecting on our relationships with others. Whether it’s a parent, friend, teacher, sibling, work associate, child or partner, focusing on someone else enables you to develop a more holistic, realistic view of your conduct. It helps you appreciate the give-and-take that occurs in daily life.

Let’s take a closer look at each individual question and how they function within the practice as a whole.

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Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


+ add your own
1:41AM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

I really liked this article. I think I'll try this. I think it will really help in my life!

8:17PM PDT on May 27, 2010

Wonderful article. Thank you, Megan.

1:17AM PDT on Apr 5, 2010

Thanks for the post.

3:11PM PST on Feb 14, 2010

This is great, thanks so much! I'm definitely going to try this out!

8:29AM PST on Feb 6, 2010

thanks for sharing.. well said..

3:38AM PST on Feb 3, 2010

Reading the comments I saw that someone says that they give more than they receive. On the contrary, I believe that, not even in 1000 years, could I give, however selfless, to balance the things I receive and am grateful for. People are so different and for this so beautiful.
Secondly, the more Japanese methods I discover, the more interested I become in the Japanese culture and lifestyle. I thank everybody: Care2, Experience life and Megan, people who took the trouble to answer.

6:34AM PST on Feb 1, 2010

Lovely article- thanks!

12:00PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

Most people know this but don't have time to think about it :(

2:22AM PST on Jan 30, 2010

All said and done, if not done with wisdom can land in a whole lot of hot waters.
great article

10:50PM PST on Jan 29, 2010

Great article. Thank you.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Love pooches but my fav are mutts by a mile!

Thank You for sharing such important simple things =)

better get the exercises from a professional that adjusts it according to everyone's needs

my best frends mum just got a nearly new Mazda MAZDA3 Hatchback only from working part-time off a pc…


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