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WWJD: What Would Joshua Do?

Recently, a friend of mine stood in her local grocer’s checkout line, fumbling with her wallet’s zipper, preparing to make an impulse purchase. But then, suspended in the queue, she was given time to question the item she was about to buy. She pondered the item carefully and asked herself a question: What would Joshua do?

If I were there in her shoes, would I make this purchase? No, she thought, and promptly returned the item to the shelf.

When she told me about her experience, she joked she should buy one of those WWJD? bracelets—the ones so popular in the 90s—to help her avoid compulsory consumption. I laughed, but then I realized I, too, could benefit from making more frequent use of this question—and so could others.

I don’t expect, or even want, anyone to walk around asking themselves, What would Joshua do? Please don’t. At least not aloud. Rather, it’s a question I should ask myself: What would the best version of me do in this situation? Likewise, what would the best version of you do? What would Chris do? What would Katie do? What would your best self do?

Would the best version of me put off writing until tomorrow? Would the best version of you sleep an extra hour and skip the gym? Would the best version of me eat the frosted donut? Would the best version of you lie to your boss? Would the best version of me procrastinate, buy things I don’t need, or ignore a friend in need?

Perhaps this question, when employed habitually, can help us change our priorities. It’s certainly a question worth asking.

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.