“Knowing the answer will help you in school. Knowing how to question will help you in life.” ~ Warren Berger
Would the world be a better place if we questioned more often? The case can indeed be made that it would.
The sad truth is much of society embraces the answer more than the question. Perhaps nowhere in the world is this trend more evident than in Western countries like the United States; where pretending to know the answer is sometimes enough to win people over.
Contrast this with places like Japan; a country where acting with humility, admitting you don’t know, and asking questions is highly respected. Indeed, it is a badge of honor.
Relatedly, many of us neglect an essential component of personal discovery: self-questioning. How many of us proactively self-question? Not many. In part, this is because society “grooms” us in a way.
Have you ever heard one of your teachers’ say: “Okay, class, we’re going to spend the next hour asking ourselves these important life questions…” Uh-uh. We pour hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into the educational system – and the vast majority of kids never learn the concept of self-questioning (or critical thinking, for that matter.)
So, what questions should we be asking ourselves? We can’t answer that for you, but we can provide some ideas.
For the ease of reading and avoiding overwhelm, we’ll break the following 20 questions into four categories: your person, your profession, your production, and your “other stuff.”
Here are 20 questions you should ask yourself in life:
Without question (no pun intended), examining your person – or what makes you, well, you – is the most vital component of self-discovery.
That said, it’s natural not to have a clear answer to these questions at times. Life has a way of throwing emotional curveballs … so please do not be harsh on yourself.
1. Am I happy?
2. Am I continuing to learn?
3. Am I where I want to be?
4. Am I living my life how I want to live it?
5. Am I giving and receiving love?
We spend about half of our waking hours on this Earth working – which may be good or bad, depending on your perception. We’re not all fortunate enough to work in a job that we love – but this ought not to be the focus here.
In truth, regardless of whether you do something you love or not, a job and an income are things for which to be grateful (see questions #2 and #4.) Further, you can always make a professional change for the better.
1. Am I doing something that makes me happy?
2. Am I making a difference in my chosen endeavors?
3. Am I choosing to stick with this career path? Why?
4. I am grateful for this job and income because it allows me to…
5. Am I making an effort to improve myself professionally?
‘Production’ in this context simply means things that you intentionally create. These things can be behavioral (emotions, actions, etc.) or something else (a product, a service that you provide, time volunteering, etc.)
In other words: What are you putting out into the world? (There’s a bonus question for ya!)
Production also describes how you manage your time and efforts – two things that are crucial to getting where you want to be – and leaving the world in a better place.
1. Am I giving something back to society? (Am I paying it forward?)
2. Am I properly managing my time and efforts?
3. Am I making a conscious effort to be kind, helpful, and generous?
4. Am I mostly engaged in life; or am I mostly adrift?
5. What do I want to leave behind for others? (What do I want to be remembered for?)
Your ‘Other Stuff’
Your ‘other stuff’ questions are inquiries arising from the depths of your soul. Questions that you – and only you – can ask and answer. For example, this writer subscribes to the school of thought that the Universe will query you from time to time – if you’re “tuning in” to it. (This is my view, which – in no way – is intended to influence anyone.)
In other words, there exist yearnings within the soul that require attention; and only through this attention can we tap into the immaterial – or what some say, the Universal – if such does indeed exist.
Though the nature of these questions is highly individualistic, here are some basic examples:
1. Am I am believer or destiny, fate, or free will?
2. Is the Universe capable of sending and receiving communications (e.g., signs)?
3. Is there more than one type of consciousness (e.g., collective consciousness)?
4. Is there a higher intelligence? If so, what?
5. Is there an immaterial component of the human experience?