30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die.

{Via studioflowerpower on etsy}

{Via studioflowerpower on etsy}

“Rather than money, than fame, than love…give me truth.” ~ Thoreau
I woke up this morning and my life clock marked 30.

My first sleep-deprived idea was to pack a small suitcase, get on the first train, move to another country, change my name, change my hair color (or get plastic surgery if needed), and start from scratch. When I don’t know how to deal with life, I hide sometimes. And others, I fight it.

By now, I’m good at both: fighting and disappearing. I’m old enough to be acquainted with life’s darkest and most elevated places, and young enough to take more. But there’s no merit to either, fighting or flying, if they don’t come as a result of one’s deepest truth. When fueled by fear (a.k.a. lies we’ve been forced to believe before our reason kicked in) both responses are cowardly, both are equally wrong.

A true warrior doesn’t feel forced to do either, but moves through and with and for life, like water.  

So after I washed my face and considered the costs of running and those of fighting, I decided to do neither and have some juice instead. And I started contemplating a third alternative.

 

{Alkaline Espresso}

{Alkaline Espresso / Click for recipe.}

 

We are a constant process, an event, we’re change.

Our life is the house, the rest are just projections, shadows of the greater structure: even our deepest thoughts, beliefs, you, me and everything and everyone we’ve ever known, are subject to interpretation. All our constructions of reality, all the words and ideas we use to understand the world are fragile and temporary, they are a medium, they’re not the end, but just another way to understand the journey of Us.

As such, our smaller houses, our temporary homes can only be made of cards. And the I-don’t-know is the most powerful ground you could lay your house of cards on. Because it allows you to adapt to any unexpected changes and even to pick up those cards when the smallest, sudden movement, brings down any of your structures. 

Loving the questions means to love yourself. You are the biggest question mark the world (your world) has ever known.

I’m embarrassed about what different alien species might think of us from outer space. You know, if they actually watched Human Reality TV on their Martian screens:

“I don’t get this dramatic species, Rango,” says a green-skinned, 2.5 meter tall, half-lizard, half-nymph, flying-lady with robot voice and snake orange eyes. “They go to the bloodiest ends to come up with the most elaborate answers about life, yet they forgot the most basic, liberating act their 5-year olds still practice: the simple art of asking. The wonder, Rango, they have lost the wonder. They love to talk about life, as if this could somehow excuse them from living it.” Rango nods and snorts green cosmic powder. 

So here is an exercise we can do together: a tweak to your usual bucket list. Some 30 questions you and I should ask ourselves (hopefully) before we die. Grab your journal. Turn this into a self-inquiry practice. You will be surprised at all the subterranean world that comes out of you. And it might just save your life by bringing it into the right perspective: ahem…yours.

There is no truth other than your truth – as long as you exist. Somebody else’s won’t do. And you know how most doors are opened? Not by struggling to find the right keys. All you have to do is knock.

Today, 30 years after “I” started happening, I’d like to re-evaluate the meaning of life and knock on doors I don’t have a key for. Maybe my higher self will open and we will sit and chat, and in between one aha and another, we’ll have a sip of truth that feels like home.

Warning: You may have already answered or are in the process of answering some of these questions. If so, a bit of repetition will only help you get clearer with yourself. If not, they should be in our elementary school curriculum. But most of us get to 30, 40, 60… or even spend our entire lives as strangers to ourselves. So shall we get re-introduced?  

  1. How much have you loved? Count the people. Add it up. When it comes to love, I’ve always felt in red numbers. I’ve been so focused on the minuses — all of them based on the not-enoughness, the virus most of us suffer from, the glass half-empty, the “but” – the “won’t” – the “can’t” – the “don’t” — the “what if.”

     

    So if you’re in red numbers too, let’s put the ball back in our court. How much have you loved? Have you loved even when it hurts, when you can’t, when you shouldn’t, when you wouldn’t, when you didn’t – just because love is a verb, not a noun, and it’s the hardest, most beautiful gift of life? If so, you’re richer than you feel.

  2. What do you love doing that you aren’t doing? Furthermore, how could you get paid for doing what you love? Let’s brainstorm. It’s your right to be alive every second of the day. You’re not supposed to spend 8 hours a day in chains and the remaining 4 getting high on mental and physical distraction in order to cope with the depression of not doing what you should, what you really want, what you need to be doing.

  3. What person or type of person would you choose as a life companion? A witness to your life? Forget the shoulds / the can’ts / the won’ts / the impossibles. Who would you love and who would love you back if you could have a say in it? Because see, your say in this makes all the difference. When you say your dreams out loud, you turn on the engine. It’s like this whole unlived, abundant life is waiting to come rushing out of you and in wishing it — out loud — you open the gates and give it permission to happen.

  4. Where do you want to live? Are you happy with your life where you are? Could you be happier somewhere else? It’s true that you can be home wherever you are. But it’s also true that some places are more in tune with the kind of life that comes bursting out of you. There’s nothing more inspiring and motivating than good company and an environment that reflect and support your mission.

  5. What do you want to accomplish? And most importantly, why — what’s your motivation? Be unrealistic. Life itself is unrealistic. Your very existence is as random, impossible and unrealistic as it gets. Only unrealistic people accomplish extraordinary things.

  6. What do you want to be remembered by? Write it down. This is the man / the woman who _______________. Take your time. 

  7. What kind of life would “make you jealous“? And why? If you could start over, what would your life look like, right now? (psst…you can – but shh, don’t let your doubts in on this yet – they’re gonna’ ruin everything).

  8. What adventures do you want to have? Can you list five? Adventures aren’t just for children — or maybe the 10-year old in us never dies. And it’s that inner child that really loves and lives life for what it is: the greatest adventure in the universe. 

  9. If you had to add something to humanity, what would your contribution be? List at least one. The world doesn’t owe you. You owe the world. The good news is that whatever the answer to this question, you’ll enjoy doing it. Your mission is encrypted in your blueprint.

  10. What are your ghosts? Your unspoken demons? The stuff you keep in your closet under a lock? What are you most deeply afraid of? Say it out loud. Get real with yourself. It’s how you conquer them.

  11. What are your favorite memories? Can you picture four or five instances in your childhood you are fond of? Do you see a river running through them? What’s that river, that common denominator, the deepest statement about you and life that lies at the core of them? There is usually only one – or two life-altering statements that come up when you dig.

     

    Get to the bottom of it. How can you live from that same belief now? How can you transform your current experiences so they begin with that same idea – that fueled your most cherished childhood memories?

  12. Who do you love the most? What 10 people would you put on a lifeboat in case of a universal tsunami / asteroid / zombie attack or any other realistic end of the world? Make a list. You can have a million friends on Facebook, but at the end of the day, you’re lucky if you can find 10 people you would die for and who would die for you. Email them as soon as you can. Remind them that if the world ends tomorrow, they’d be on your lifeboat.

     

    Truth is…you never know if the world will end tomorrow. At least for you. And human beings are the most forgetful animals. Do you eat, drink and sleep every day? Then love everyday too.

  13. What worries you the most? Why? Worry comes from fear. And most fear is imaginary. Fear of the Thing is not the Thing itself. Learn to distinguish one from the other. It’s as simple as asking Why.

     

    So what are you worried about? List even the most trivial worries, they’re a projection of a deeper fear. And if any of these worries came true, do you think you could survive? And if the answer is No, then all the more reason to enjoy the world before it ends (and not worry about dead or dying ends).

  14. What type of people inspire you and make you come alive? What people — at this point in your life — add to the truest equation of YOU? Reach out to them, get closer, “touch” them, spend time with them, be around them, aliveness is the one virus you always need to catch.  

  15. What type of people bring you down and make you hate yourself? Break up with them. Today. It’s not rejection, it’s just selection. Life is short. You can’t invest your love in people who don’t want it and who use it to deplete you.

     

    Love is the most elevated, beautiful transaction between two creatures. But it’s still a transaction. The whole of nature is transaction: a give and take. When one is missing, the cycle is interrupted, the fire swallows all the oxygen and you burn out. We each have a choice – to give and to take love — and whether we are aware of it or not, we choose the people we give to and take from. You are responsible for your heart’s investments.

  16. Who are your mentors? What have they taught you? Can you make a list? If you know them personally, thank them? Writers, thinkers, teachers, people who’ve shown you the way at some point, and the beautiful mystery of life made sense in their hands. Inspiration is contagious. It fuels you up. You owe them a mention on your lips and in your heart; and you must pay it forward and become a way-shower to someone else.

  17. What is your cosmic elevator pitch? Not your job description, not your professional bio, not your resume, not your About page. But if you got in an elevator on a spaceship that tours the galaxy and you could say anything you wanted about yourself, what would you tell your elevator mates?

     

    In short, who are you – raw, unedited, wild, ordinary and extraordinary you? What does it come down to? And why? (Always, that goddamn solid why).

  18. What issues can you help with? We’re in trouble as a planet, as a species, as a global community, and as individuals. It’s not a choice, actually. If you want to live here, you need to pay the toll of helping out, or your so-called-living won’t be more than a selfish idea of living.

    Interdependence is the new Independence. In order to make it real, you have to help clean up the mess others have made. Don’t worry, so will others help clean yours. It’s how it goes with humans. They mirror each other, for better or worse.

  19. How can you express yourself creatively? Starting with the belief that we are all creative animals by nature, what’s your medium? Don’t think about profit, think only of how you can recycle your demons and become a channel for truth.

     

    Art (any kind) speaks directly to the heart. It doesn’t go through reason. They are two parallel languages. You need to speak Art if you want to understand Heart. So pick a medium and start practicing.

  20. How do you manage your time? What works for you? If you’re a mess, how can you get it together? Here are some creative tips on productivity. Can you make a schedule, write down your routine (to help you stick to it), come up with a productivity manifesto of some sort?

  21. If you were to leave the world today, what’s your manifesto? What would you tell your children if you were forced to abandon them unexpectedly? Tell them now (even if you don’t have children). You do actually, we’re all inextricably interconnected to each other – in ways beyond our wildest imagination, and every child born on this planet is also a bit yours.  

  22. What makes you come alive? What ignites you? What makes you forget time, and space, and love, and food and water and even why – if taken to extreme? As Bukowski put it, “Find out what you love and let it kill you.” (Or resurrect you.)

  23. What are your most painful memories? Are you still replaying them in your mind and using them as an excuse to fuel your fear of getting hurt again? Do you think they might be keeping you from trusting your heart again? 

  24. Why do you eat the way you eat and the things you eat? What do you think you should you eat that you’re not eating – and why? What can you put in your body that gives you pleasure and also respects and nourish it? If you don’t know, can you find out? Google it, read books, take a nutrition course, a cooking class, an online support program, hire a health counselor, do whatever it takes to get to know your body’s needs and then give it what it’s really asking for.

     

    Your cells are made from the very food you eat. What you eat is the most important physiological aspect of your aliveness. You can’t honor life through your work, mission, relationships (you name it), if you don’t eat what gives you life.  

  25. What ignites your brain? What turns your light bulb on? Can you add more of that to your everyday? Get smarter? Train your brain? Evolve? Don’t waste your precious time on meaningless entertainment that numbs your mind and makes you smaller. It’s later than you think. 

  26. What physical exercise makes you sweat it like you mean it and enjoy both, the process and the afterward feeling? If you’re not currently practicing it, can you read more about it, surround yourself with people who practice it, sign up for a class, do whatever will motivate you to practice it?

  27. What does your body need in order to function at its best? Can you make a list of what makes you feel healthiest and function optimally and try to practice it every day? If you’re not sure, start experimenting. Your 100% is just a little higher than your 80% but it makes a lifetime impact.

  28. What feeds your spirit? What gives you goosebumps? What makes you fall down to your knees in awe (and weep)? Is it god? Religion? The universe? Science? Starry nights? Philosophy? Nature? Music? Art? It has to be higher than a person (than you), and surpass your understanding. There is no awe without mystery.

  29. What are you proud of so far? What have you accomplished? Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be someone who’s done “more” and some who’s done “less.” But what can you, at this point in your life (your circumstances, your reality), give yourself a hug for? Do it.

  30. Fast-forward to your epitaph. What does it say? As a place-holder, let’s paraphrase Jack Kerouac: “They lived and loved and asked, blessed and adventured…and they weren’t sorry.”

Question 31 (I don’t like even numbers): What is the meaning of life?

To sit and have a drink with life, and ask her things, and hear your own heart (usually ignored) echo your larger-than-life answers in your chest? To realize that you’re rich solely because you have a universe inside you, that you can reach at any given moment – a world that will shrink and expand on your command? Yes. That.

There is no meaning outside of You that won’t take Your deepest, greatest truth in consideration. Fuck love, money or fame if they don’t come as a result of your life-driving truth – they’re the roof to your inner house, and to add a roof you must first discover, understand and create that house. And if you don’t know where to start building, just ask.

Life is an endless flow of questions – meaning is always in the making and it is constantly being created as we speak. The ultimate meaning of life then is the One that creates meaning: the traveler (not the journey), the subject (not its objects, ideas, circumstances, possessions), the lover (not the love), the wayseer (not the way), the warrior (not the battle)…

You.

 

*****

 

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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.

89 Comments

  • selfxt commented on July 17, 2013 Reply
    Thank you Andrea: I have noted the list and your thoughts and I will work on them as I progress through my own quest….I live in the desert to experience ‘death” and answer the questions such as you have described above. This will take a few years as I have only just begun compiling my notes. As I write I will post you corresponding thoughts on your list. Is that okay…it’s a long haul; at least in the desert the going is soft. Be well
  • Dania Laubach commented on July 17, 2013 Reply
    I just love this so much and needed to hear these words echo in my head and to roll them across my lips and brush them lightly on my soul’s surface. I will take my time, but intend on answering each one. Thank you for asking.
  • Mamaste
    Mamaste commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    I would put you in my lifeboat. Happy Birthday. xoxo ~Mamaste
  • karl saliter commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    An excellent article, Andrea. Really well-considered and delivered. Thank you.
  • Victoria Erickson commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    Boom. Perfect timing, perfect everything.
  • Braja Sorensen
    Braja Sorensen commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    This, THIS, is the best thing you’ve done…it is so powerfully focused, it has depth, meaning, intent, direction, courage, honesty, braveness, truth, and hope, and all those things could be similarly applied to the one lovely creature that is Andrea….I love this, I love you. Absolutely brilliant…oh, and the article is great too :)) All the very best to you on this landmark birthday, the big 30…love and blessings and prayers and hugs and more…. ♪♫ ✿ *•.。.☆•*¨*•.¸¸❤¸¸.•*¨*•☆.。.•*✿ ♫♪✿ *•.。.☆•*¨♪♫ ✿ *•.。.☆•*¨*¸❤¸¸.•*¨*
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on July 22, 2013 Reply
      Coming from you, I believe anything. :) Love you back. Just danced to that music at the end of your comment.
  • Bob Weisenberg commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    Enjoyed reading this, Andrea. Bob W.
  • Genevieve DuBois
    Jennifer Hillman commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    Wise beyond your years… thank you.
  • SR Atchley
    SR commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    Stellar. Thank you.
  • Pab lo commented on July 18, 2013 Reply
    o happy thirty… thanks for the cake. “May the Love be with you”
  • Asifa commented on July 20, 2013 Reply
    What a wonderful gift to give to the World on your birthday! I want the whole world to ponder your questions…I have already begun. Thank you. A very happy birthday to you!
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on July 22, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so much for reading and for all the kind feedback. Trying to restore the Art of Asking.
  • Kathryn Turney commented on July 22, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so much for your gift of wonderful words and making me think even harder about life decisions I have made lately and am trying to make, even as I write this. I will read this over and over and use it as the template for my life. You are inspiring, Andrea.
  • Tramp McLEan commented on July 22, 2013 Reply
    <3 <3 <3
  • BronkyBBear commented on July 22, 2013 Reply
    Fabulous.. Wonderfully written, thank you. Its important to keep asking the most effective questions.. ones that challenge our own thinking and others that makes us strong in our authenticity..
  • Jay Becker commented on July 22, 2013 Reply
    There is no meaning to life. Socrates said that wisdom cannot be taught anyway, that we get by and learn by asking questions, and that the answers are there, we just have to discover them by asking the right questions.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
      Yes – that’s what I’m trying to suggest. :) The meaning is moving as we are, the meaning is constantly being made through us, there is no ultimate meaning – aside from Us, as meaning-makers.
  • bill66912 commented on July 23, 2013 Reply
    Absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing, and for the inspiration!
  • Bob Marsh commented on July 24, 2013 Reply
    Fun. I would have worded it a bit differently, but fun. Good list. Rock on!
  • Debbie Happy Cohen commented on July 24, 2013 Reply
    This is Debbie’s fiancee, Willy, Andrea, just wanting to say I loved your piece here, and want to encourage you to consider turning it into a book. Really. This is the stuff that gets folks thinking from the ground floor of their Being. And we all know this world could use more o’ that! ;-) I’ve been blessed to have a successful career as a freelance book editor for the past 14 years (2 clients have won national book awards and many have signed with top lit agents and publishers), and I would feel honored to work with you to bring this material into the hands & hearts of the masses via a published book. If you’re interested in having a conversation about it, you can reach me through Debbie. Again, GREAT stuff, Andrea! Best wishes to you & all the Rebelle Society writers! Cheers, Willy
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much, Willy! I’m up for that convo. I’ll be in touch through Debbie. Glad you enjoyed it.
  • JSJack commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    yeah yeah yeah… I’m also one of those 30 years old child addicted to feel good subject “how do I improve my life?” Thank you for that post anyway. xx
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
      :) Is there a better place to start than with that question? :)
  • Debbie Happy Cohen commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Happy Birthday Andrea!
  • industrialping commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Nice list … but definetly first world problems
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
      How do you suggest that we break free from the “first world” mentality, unless we understand what our problems are? And how will we understand our problems if we don’t understand ourselves? Maybe if we stopped being strangers to ourselves – at war with ourselves and as such, with everyone else, by getting to the core of our own issues and the root of our fear, we could become more sensitive to the suffering of others. And then there wouldn’t be a “first” world to begin with, but only one world… In any case if you have a better plan for humanity that doesn’t involve getting to know ourselves first, please do share. I’m always curious for alternatives. :)
  • Tanya Lee Markul
    tanya lee markul commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
    Hanging this on my wall sister. xoxo
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
      Oh no, next thing you know your whole house will be full of post-its and you’ll be swinging back and forth in the existential chair. The truth shall get your rocking. :) xoxo
  • Emer commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
    Such clarity in one so young – fabulous.
  • Howard commented on August 1, 2013 Reply
    This is wonderful. Am I a better person for knowing you? The answer is an unqualified yes.
  • Lucien Zell commented on August 1, 2013 Reply
    “If I’d never met you, I would never miss you. But if I’d never met you, I would miss myself.” from my novel The Salmon Café Another question parallel in spirit to the many exquisite questions you’ve asked: IF YOU SPOKE AT YOUR OWN FUNERAL, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on August 4, 2013 Reply
      Love that quote Lucien! Must check out your novel.
  • Irmie commented on August 11, 2013 Reply
    I disagree with the ‘break up with them’ comment. I’ve read The Divorce Remedy and the science there seems to support working through issues in love, not in breaking up with someone and expecting/hoping to do better the next time around. I did like the list in general, but as it’s a common theme to give advice to cut people out of your life that bring pain/not a fair emotional transaction, it’s worth helping to educate people that leaving is not always the best solution. Learning is.
  • Kathryn O'Gould commented on August 13, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for reminding all of us to BE the unlimited potential that we ARE! Or at the very least to question ourselves as to why we aren’t! We are here to be happy and to soar, and we are all created with equal opportunities to do so…nothing stops us…except us!
  • B.Turner commented on August 19, 2013 Reply
    Yes, all fine. But I live by the way my immediate family live. Not the way I want to live, but that is the way I have to if I want to keep the peace and stay there.
  • bob commented on August 22, 2013 Reply
    kerh
  • Dawn commented on August 24, 2013 Reply
    Beautiful! Will live with these questions as Rilke so beautifully put it & love them as I ponder… Thank you :-D
  • Lisette commented on August 26, 2013 Reply
    Thank you, simply inspired by this list of questions–lots to chew on and ponder for years ahead. I love thinking about the kind of life that would make me jealous and questioning–can I create that life for myself? I may direct lots of my therapy clients to these 30 questions as they do indeed make you dig deep. Again, so appreciate your writing and putting this list together with such finesse.
  • Carly chichester commented on August 27, 2013 Reply
    Brilliant. Terrifying. Thank you.
  • Kimberly Ann Pine commented on September 8, 2013 Reply
    This feeds my soul. The big ‘A-HA’ for me is this one… What do you want to accomplish? And most importantly, why — what’s your motivation? I desire to be published by my favorite publishing house- possibly penguin group. I desire to be on the new york times best sellers list for weeks and weeks at a time and have my book in the hands of young adults all over the world. Why? Because my mission here is to write spirit into form. My mission is so simple and to have it pulled out in such a clear, succinct way is really moving to me. Thank you <3 <3 <3
  • Stacie commented on September 24, 2013 Reply
    Thanks, I am 51 and feel that this is one of the better lists I have read.
  • Dawn Herring commented on October 1, 2013 Reply
    Andrea, This is one powerful list of questions to ponder in our journals. I love several that speak to my particular mission in life which is to work with folks to find their Authentic Refreshment and love themselves from the inside out: What do you love doing that you aren’t doing? How do you express yourself creatively and what makes you come alive? These are questions that can help you get to the heart of what I term Authentic Refreshment which helps you discover who you really are. We need to take the time to determine these answers and then do these things! It can make all the difference in our life experience. I also appreciate What’s your motivation? and What worries you the most; that can give us deep insight into who we really are and perhaps why we’re here. As host of #JournalChat Live for all things journaling on Twitter, I have chosen your post, 30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 10/1/13. I will post a link on my website, in Refresh Journal, and on the social networks to share with my journaling community. Our topic this week on #JournalChat Live is Your Journaling: A Mindful Mission; you’re welcome to join us on Thursday, 10/3, 5 EST/2 PST. I appreciate this list; it is certainly food for thought…and action! Be refreshed, Dawn Herring
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much, Dawn! I wish I’d read your comment sooner.
  • Jackie Pontzious commented on October 2, 2013 Reply
    Great list to use as I journal. Nice outline of thoughts to guide my thinking. When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I remember the teacher assigning us a project which was going to be based on our hobby. We were to write a short paragraph about our hobby and bring in a sample of it. I sat there and drew a blank. No one else seemed to have trouble with that assignment. Everyone started packing up to go home because it was close to the end of the day. I can remember looking around the room at the class clowns, the ones who always disrupted the class, the quiet ones tucked away in the corners…..and I thought, “Seriously? All of you have hobbies?” Maybe it was because I had never thought of what I loved to do as a hobby. Or, maybe I was basing my line of thinking on some television show that featured someone a lot older who collected stamps or made strawberry preserves. Not one person in my class raised their hand and asked, “What do you mean by a hobby?” And, in third/fourth grade you didn’t dare ask the lone question at the end of the day! WHOA. My point in bringing up this scene is that when I read the list of 30 Questions to Ask Yourself, I had that same exact reaction. Drawing a blank like someone turned on my motor at the beginning of my life and failed to give me proper instructions or a good hard push! Probably because my thinking is usually pretty energized, can bounce around quite a bit (ahhh…that’s why I like meditating and listening to music…..hobbies, heh, heh, heh) and my thinking can often feel as thought it has no lines of division at all. That’s why I enjoy journaling so much…..another hobby :). It guides my thinking and channels it in one direction at a time. Thank you for the list. It will be used as my thought shepherd. I love this website!
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
      Thanks for sharing your story Jackie. That’s a great example. I also feel that part of the reason why we don’t ask more is because we haven’t been taught to ask…because asking has often “ignorantly” been paired up with ignorance. Yet the art of asking is lies at the bottom of all knowledge and prompts our learning and experience – and it’s something we already come equipped with – see any 5-year old… And I’m with you on the journaling, it saves lives.
  • Terri Spaulding commented on October 13, 2013 Reply
    Awesome. Inspiring. Useful. Perfect. Thank you.
  • Josh commented on October 14, 2013 Reply
    Just my opinion and not meant to discount anything expressed here: I feel that these 30 questions mostly complicates life and places conditions on happiness and fulfillment. It’s all going to end the same; we’ll all die. I don’t really care, one way or the other, if I accomplish my goals, or if I get to travel to all those places I want to. It would be nice, and I’ll certainly enjoy my career, family, travel, etc, but it is not necessary if I don’t succeed in certain ways or am able to carve enough notches to signify my mastery of anything. It is the absence of striving for anything that creates the most happiness for me.
  • Marisa HarNadh commented on November 14, 2013 Reply
    brilliant as always <3 thank you <3
  • Karma commented on November 14, 2013 Reply
    Thanks for giving me a gift on your birthday. :) Wish you joy….
  • adriana commented on November 14, 2013 Reply
    Amazing website and this article made me SMILE. I feel I have lived life (so far and will continue to do so) as ‘listed’ . I was lucky to find ‘someone like you when I was 21…several moons ago…who opened my mind to this ‘thinking’ and it paid off with dreams coming true. I feel your articles are like ‘JUICING’ for my brain since I started thinking these thoughts at a time when no one around me was into these types of questions. I do forward your articles to friends & feel they can make a difference for those who seek awareness and happiness in this very short LIFE. p.s. I do Juice every morning too :)
  • adriana commented on November 14, 2013 Reply
    I do care about ‘seeing the World’ & I have done this for 20yrs (entered an industry that allows me the opportunity to Travel which for me was MUST NOT A MAYBE). Money did not give me this, my career choice did.. I am now in my 40’s & survived a brain aneurysm in my early 30’s. What more of awakening can one get to prove that ‘LIFE IS SHORT’….
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
      Thanks Adriana! Gotta love that juicing. Glad you find this helpful. xoxo
  • Lissa commented on November 15, 2013 Reply
    Andrea, I just discovered this article and it really moved me. It’s simply brilliant and I want to curl up with a journal and a glass of wine and ponder each fully. I have spoken a number of times on goal planning and how important goals are, but after reading this, I find my guidance has always been more pragmatic, while your work is so much more insightful! The one common element we shared was the epitaph. I now want to indulge in every article you’ve written, as the writing was very powerful, as was the content. You have a great talent and I’m better for having found your work today! As I scrolled through the comments, I saw Willy’s suggestion to turn it into a book. I will tell you a resounding YES – I would buy that book! Best of luck to you on your journey and thank you again for helping me with mine.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much, Lissa. Deeply grateful and glad my words have resonated. That book is in the making. Sending you a big e-hug.
  • Agus commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    THANKS…THIS ARTICLE CAME AT THE PERFECT MOMENT!!! I HAVE MANY TIMES ASKED VARIOUS QUESTIONS POSTED HERE, AGAIN, THANKS! =D
  • joanna commented on December 28, 2013 Reply
    sooo many deep questions… #9 I owe the world a light lavender painting with a gold cloud. the painting has been in me for a year now. The question brought it up…
  • pattychapman62 commented on December 28, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so much for this, it is beautifully written.
  • Grant commented on December 29, 2013 Reply
    I am almost sorry for my thoughts on this. I want to be positive but these are questions that you can afford to ask because of where you are born. Somewhere in the world someone is waking with the question of where their next meal will come from, or thinking about the 10 kays they have to walk to get clean water. My question is this: what are you doing for these people? 80% of the worlds population lives on less than $10 a day. Ask yourself if you have loved enough if you want, but ask yourself if you have contributed to the people that need it most.Thanks for writing this – it made me realise I have to do more for those that truly need it.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
      MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, THEN. (See Question #9 and Question #18 – I’m glad you read the article). We all carry geographical and cultural baggage, surely. It’s very easy to notice a problem, but unless, as Thoreau put it, you “strike at the root of evil” little can be done to really change things. The reason why 80% of the world’s population lives on less than 10$ a day is because of our selfishness, lack of empathy, understanding, and love. If this issue exists it is because SOMEBODY is causing it, it isn’t natural, we are stealing from these people every day, through our repetitive actions and way of operating. I choose to believe that we can’t have empathy, love, respect and awareness for others, if we don’t cultivate this for ourselves in the first place. Most of us live as strangers to ourselves, distracted by everything that isn’t life, and as a result of that, we inflict pain and suffering on others. The greatest part about getting to know and helping yourself is that it automatically makes you be more aware of the suffering world around. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything, we are all one, there is no third world, there is only ONE WORLD, and one person’s suffering is also my suffering. “No man is an island.”. I can’t, however, in one relatively short online article, provide a solution for all the philosophical, psychological, spiritual, sociopolitical and cultural issues of life and fix it all. In this one, I chose to focus on just one aspect of finding meaning, on the most accessible person you can have a direct power over and the only individual you can change: you.
      • Valerie Roy commented on March 7, 2015 Reply
        great conversation. But it is not in other countries it is a world wide epidemic. Greed or Lack keeping the fear machine running. Example- the United States is no longer the richest country in the world or the freest. The disparity is obnoxious at times and the top down control and wastefulness of the haves making rules that they don’t even abide by is making me cranky. The media has forced many people to forget they have ability or knowledge of real choice — ACTIVE CITIZEN verses stupefied consumer. Different then choice of variety according to Marion Nestle’s Food Politics. — In 1999, U.S. food companies spent an estimated $33 billion on marketing. and in 2009 food manufacturers introduced nearly 20,000 new products to the grocery shelves. True sustainable outcomes only occur when PEOPLE PLANET & PROFIT are all equally valued in a system – and most people use the word sustainability as a buzz word not as a practice of discernment.
  • zenbcb commented on December 29, 2013 Reply
    No comment, but another question (I am the curious sort): As you have made several posts since this one, WHY have you stopped responding to comments made here?
  • Pat Craanen commented on December 29, 2013 Reply
    Wow, what a bunch of self-absorbed hooey! Get married, have a kid or two or adopt, get involved in your community and then get back with me in a few years. Get out of yourself. In the grand scheme we are really not as important or as “in touch” as we think we are.
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
    THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ AND COMMENT. I deeply appreciate all your feedback and exchange of aliveness. Here’s to digging deeper and creating more meaning in 2014. A Socratic mantra: “Know thyself.”
  • april commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
    This is brilliant. I’m going to go through this list as an end of year exercise. Thank you!
  • William-Arleen Brice commented on December 30, 2013 Reply
    Your thoughts are inspiring, and I had to share them with my sisters. I am 62 and trying to finish my life with genuine happiness. Thank you for the questions to ask yourself. Sincerely Arleen
  • Andrea Finlay commented on December 31, 2013 Reply
    I really enjoyed reading every word! Thank you Andrea :)
  • Mike commented on December 31, 2013 Reply
    I wrote this in a reflective period in the 70s. My answer to question 31. The meaning of life Is in a child’s face It is with us To keep a smile in that place.
  • Angela Roberts commented on December 31, 2013 Reply
    I was really liking this especially the elevator pitch. I immediately thought about who I am and my faith, and in the next sentence I was saddened to see a word in that paragraph that disrespected it. You seem like a deep thinker, and one on a quest for life’s discoveries. Just know that those who see a big part of their identity through God, have a hard time with such words. And, even if such a faith is not your own, no need for words about God that seem hostile. I had to let you know that for some people in this world, words matter profoundly. One such poet knew this. Emily Dickinson wrote these words. If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on January 20, 2014 Reply
      Thanks for your feedback Angela. Emily Dickinson is one of my favorites as well. It is not my intention to disrespect anyone’s religion through this article and I’m sorry you took it that way. Far from it. I think there is some truth in every faith or every way to understand “god” or whatever other higher power we believe in. It is true words are powerful. But it’s also true that their meaning cannot be taken out of the context in which they are written / said.I am by no means using “goddamn” in a religious connotation. I am just cursing, like I often do in my writing – and conversation. I realize this will be offensive to some people who choose not to use these words, but I’d like to stress the importance of not taking them out of the tone, context and attached meaning the author gives them. Glad the main point of the article resonated, nonetheless.
  • Marie commented on December 31, 2013 Reply
    It was an interesting read but I took just one thing from it that I wish for everyone – Life is short. Speak your mind. And don’t let others criticise you for doing it.
  • Rachael commented on January 7, 2014 Reply
    I’m 40 and this is the best article I’ve ever read of its kind. Thank you so much for writing it. “It’s later than you think” was like a little punch in the gut.
  • Marlynn Bourque (@marlynnbourque) commented on January 9, 2014 Reply
    Brilliant way to approach living!! I hope it’s ok to quote some of it on JoyAwareness Radio tomorrow?? http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/75111/unbelieve-and-know-what-is-true
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on January 20, 2014 Reply
      Thanks Marlynn! By all means! Quote away. :)
  • Jeff D. Huddleston commented on February 11, 2014 Reply
    Sadly “Where will I spend eternity?” wasn’t one of the questions. The one reference to God that I saw, was spelled with a lower case “g” and jumbled together with other generic concerns. Make no mistake about it folks, “Where will I spend eternity?” is the only real question you need to find an answer to before you leave this planet, if you answer nothing else. There are no second chances: “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
  • Steve commented on March 13, 2014 Reply
    I just now came upon this List of 30 Questions. The wisdom in your words and the eloquence with which you speak/write is remarkable. I read many of the questions out loud; they speak to me deeply. I’m glad you’re alive!
  • Ali Davies commented on July 17, 2014 Reply
    Loved your post. For me, the key to a fulfilling life on your own terms is to design it around your core values and your own definition of success. Then every day is lived, worked and loved on your own terms.
  • Mona commented on January 13, 2015 Reply
    Andrea, you inspire me like nothing else. It’s funny to think that a complete stranger can speak to parts of myself that I haven’t listened to. It does something to the pit of my stomach, like butterflies, but better. Reading myself alive. Thank you for all you heart, patience and passion in all that you do.
  • Dave commented on January 14, 2015 Reply
    In the meantime, while you are gazing into your navel and answering these breathless question, life is passing you by at 1,000 miles an hour. I am 61 years old. I will not add anything to my life by answering these questions. There is no point to any of it. None. Nada. Nights. Zilch.
  • Leopoldo commented on January 20, 2015 Reply
    It’s going to be end of mine day, but before ending I am reading this impressive piece of writing to improve my know-how.
  • Emmy commented on February 12, 2015 Reply
    Heck yeah this is extacly what I needed.
  • Valerie Roy commented on March 7, 2015 Reply
    thanks for the great list – I’m going to work on it inside one of my journals ! I love this especially – “The wonder, Rango, they have lost the wonder. They love to talk about life, as if this could somehow excuse them from living it.” I never loose the wonder. it is one of the things I love about me. It is the duration of one wrong turn that turned into one wrong turn after another now I am in a black forest of brambles in the dark. At the same time trying to be responsible and not a victim, taking action in finding the path to the other side and only finding more wrong turns. I am so anxious to find the path to traction again.
  • Joe commented on March 19, 2015 Reply
    I think these are some very crucial questions. Every day is another breath before the plunge into Eternity; no one knows when their next breath will be their last. Step out of your comfort zone. Be thankful to the Creator of Life: Jesus Christ. Consider His life and blood that was spent on your last breath. Use the opportunity of the breath you take right now to make someone else’s life extraordinary.
  • Conor Neill commented on April 27, 2015 Reply
    Wow, stops me and makes me think… now to take out the journal ;-)
  • ashutosh samal commented on May 1, 2015 Reply
    brilliant piece , read this too http://pal4articles.com/
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  • regula rx commented on July 2, 2015 Reply
    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It’s always useful to read through articles from other authors and practice something from their web sites.

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