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Personal Development & Growth

When S**t Happens, Answer These 3 Questions


This video offers you a different way to think about negative events in your life by proposing 3 questions to ask yourself. These questions are from Daniel H. Pink’s book, “To Sell Is Human.”

In answering them, Mr. Pink says you want to “…come up with an intelligent way to answer ‘no’.”

The questions are:

  1. Is this Permanent?
  2. Is this Pervasive?
  3. Is this Personal?

The reason you want to answer them is to develop what Pink calls “buoyancy”, which is a type of positivity we can use in the face of disappointment. Buoyancy helps us create a better emotional balance than the old-style “positive affirmations”.

I walk you through two scenarios to demonstrate how to work with the questions.

Try using them to process a negative situation in your life. Then, please leave a comment to share something positive you learned about yourself, having gone through the process.


Hi, I’m Doyle banks. I’m a life coach and I work with people who want to make deep transformations in their personal and professional lives.

Today, I want to share with you three questions that you can ask yourself and answer when the “stuff” of life hits the fan, or comes rolling downhill at you. You want to ask yourself these questions to help keep yourself out of the pit of negativity.

In his book, “To Sell Is Human”, Daniel H. Pink proposes these questions as a way to increase what he calls “buoyancy” in our lives. Buoyancy is a positive energy, a positive mindset, but it’s not that “stare in the mirror and shout affirmations at yourself every morning” thing. It’s more about striking an even keel and an even balance in the face of things that happen, that challenge us, and maybe knock us around a little bit.

So we want to take each of these questions and, as Mr. Pink describes, we want to come up with an intelligent answer to them, that is, a “No” answer. So let’s dig in.

The first example I’m going to use is of a broken romantic relationship.

Is this Permanent?

The first question to ask is, “Is this permanent?”

The useless answer, the “Yes’ answer would be, “Oh my gosh, yes, I’m never going to get over this heartbreak. I’m going to feel this way for the rest of my life.”

The useful answer is, “No, it’s not permanent. I can grieve my lost love and find healing and get over this and move on and not stay in this brokenhearted state of mind forever.”

Is this Pervasive?

The second question then is, “Is this pervasive?”

The useless answer would be, “Yes, I’m never going to find a partner. I’m never going to find true love. I’m destined to be heartbroken forever. This is going to happen to me every time I try to create a relationship.”

The useful answer is “No, this isn’t pervasive. It’s not universal in my life or in anyone’s life. Sometimes heartbreaks happen, romances don’t work out. We realized that we had different values and different priorities, and it’s best that we found out now so that we can each move on and find better matches for our lives.”

Is it Personal?

The third question is, “Is it personal?”

The useless answer would be, “Yes, it, it was my fault,” or, “Yes, I’m just not cut out for relationships. I have some kind of flaw that I’ll never find true love. I’ll never find the person I can stay with long term.”

The useful answer is, “No, this is not about me, or certainly not all about me. Yes, maybe I made some mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of we weren’t a match. And again, it’s best that we found out now so that we can find better matches for us better matches in our lives.”

The second example I want to share with you is back when I was trying to build my first website I ran into some obstacles. I had never built a website before. I had done some reading, looked around, asked some questions of people who had built websites, but I had never had the actual experience of doing it myself.

When I ran into obstacles, I could ask myself, “Is this permanent?”

A useless answer would’ve been, “Yes. I’m never going to figure this out. It’s just impossible. I cannot figure this out. I’ll never figure it out.”

The useful answer is “No, it’s not permanent. I can figure this out. I’m capable of learning and I can ask questions of people and I can get help if I need it.”

Second question, “Is it pervasive?”

The useless answer would’ve been, “Yes, this is just impossible to build a website,” which sounds kind of funny. If you think about it, there are probably times when you have that kind of irrational thought yourself. You’re so flooded with emotions around the obstacle you’ve hit and around what looks like failure, that the emotions take over and you just think everything is lost or it’s like this for everything.

So again, I could have had the thought, “Yes, it’s impossible to build a website,” knowing full well, having looked at thousands of websites up into that point, that it wasn’t impossible. You get the idea.

The useful answer I could give myself to the question, “Is this pervasive?”, is. of course, “No. Look at all these thousands, tens of thousands, millions of other websites that exist. And many of them include the feature that I’m trying to build into my website! So of course it can be done. It’s possible. I just have to find the explanation or get the help. I need to figure it out to be able to implement this feature on my website. It is possible. I can do it. I might need some help, but I can do it.

And then thirdly, “Is it personal?”

The useless answer would be, “Yeah, I’m an idiot.”

The useful answer would be, “No, it’s not about me. I’m a capable person. I was a straight “A” student in college. I have the ability to learn. I have a mind and a brain that work. So of course I can figure this out. Might take me some time. Might take me more effort than I had planned on. And that happens in life. So I’ll find the help I need or dig in and find the answer, the solution to the problem and get this feature installed or implemented on my website.”

So those are two examples that I hope help illustrate the value of these three questions.


I want to do a little “shout out” to Mr. Pink. He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him personally, but I really appreciate all of the wisdom that he has put out into the world and made available to all of us, particularly in that book, “To Sell As Human.” And I highly recommend that you read it.

It’s not just for sales professionals. It turns out that all of us, in every area of our life, need to do some “selling”, or persuading, or motivating of other people in different ways at different times. And his book is just chock-full of great tips and wisdom and insight into human nature. So, if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it.

Thank you for joining me today. Thank you for watching. Thanks for your support.

What I’d like to invite you to do now is to take these three questions and think of a situation in your life where you’re challenged, or maybe you’re stumped, or you’re stuck and you feel like the you-know-what is hitting the fan. Go through these questions and come up with an intelligent “No” answer for yourself.

Then come back, if you would, and share in the Comments section something positive that you learned about yourself in going through the process.

Again, thanks for watching. I send you wishes for peace and joy, and I look forward to being with you again in another video soon. Take care.

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