post written by: Marc Chernoff

25 Questions that Provoke Thought


Questions that Provoke Thought

If the question makes you think, it’s worth asking.

  1. What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend that you aren’t dying?
  2. Do you believe in the death penalty?  What if someone murdered your mother in cold blood?  What if someone murdered a stranger’s mother, but saved your life the month before?
  3. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?
  4. Would you rather be rich and paralyzed from the waist down or poor and able bodied?
  5. What’s the most expensive gift you have ever received?  Is it the best gift you have ever received?
  6. When was the last time you lied?  Is it possible to lie without saying anything at all?
  7. Stealing is immoral, right?  But what if stealing was the only way to feed a starving child?
  8. If I gave you $20, what percentage would you – really – save?  If I gave you $200,000, what percentage would you save?  Should there be a difference?
  9. If someone could tell you the exact day and time that you are going to die, would you want them to tell you?
  10. If you found out you were going to die today, would you have any regrets?  Would you be happy with the way you spent the last 24 hours of your life?
  11. What’s your single greatest moment of personal failure?  Looking back on it now, did it make you weaker or stronger?  What did you learn?
  12. Do the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ mean not being persecuted or discriminated against, or do they mean doing whatever you please?
  13. Have you ever discriminated against someone?  Imagine that a street gang notorious for wearing purple shirts has robbed and murdered several hundred people in your town.  If a man wearing a purple shirt just rang your doorbell, would you answer it?
  14. Is it crazier to choose to be poor or to spend 40 years of your life hating 40 hours a week?
  15. Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time?  How many hours a week do you spend watching TV, or playing video games, or…?
  16. Do you ever celebrate the green lights?
  17. If you could be given another talent or ability, what would you want it to be?  Have you ever – really – tried to perfect this ability in yourself?
  18. No matter how bad things get, are you aware that someone always has it worse than you do?
  19. When you help someone, do you ever think, “What’s in it for me?”
  20. Joy is found with simple awareness.  What does your joy look like today?
  21. What’s the difference between ‘living’ and ‘existing?’
  22. Are you willing to sacrifice the life of your child or lover to support a war?
  23. Do you ask enough questions, or do you settle for what you know?
  24. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
  25. If your life was a novel, what would be the title and how would your story end?

Please share your thoughts, and additional thought-provoking questions, in the comments section below.

And check out these books for more thought-provoking questions:

Photo by: Rogilde

Download the ebook If you enjoyed this article, check out our new best-selling book.
Marc and Angel Subscription via Email And get inspiring life tips and quotes in your inbox (it's free)...

Enter your email address to get new articles delivered for free:



35 Comments

  • Amazing questions. These questions show how far I’ve come in the last 5 years. I began as a very unhappy person and have (according to me) really grown.

    I especially resonated with #3. Luckily I’ve learned to not be so harsh on myself. However, sometimes I can’t help it, which is very common I think. I do my best, which is enough for me ;)

  • great post! I’ve bookmarked it and will be coming back for the next 25 days to try and answer one question a day.

  • Is guilt to big a price to pay for happiness?

  • Wow! Thank you for compiling this! Questions that make you think are certainly worth asking.

    I especially like questions #3, #17, and #18. Really promotes positive thinking!

    Cheers!
    Gloson

  • I know that I never comment, but I love your blog. It is so eye opening and inspiring, especially this post. I have bookmarked it and will be sure to reread it from time to time. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sorry, but I feel the need to add to number 7. From The Simpsons:

    Tony: Bart, um, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?
    Bart: No.
    Tony: Well, suppose you got a large starving family. Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?
    Bart: Uh uh.
    Tony: And, what if your family don’t like bread? They like… cigarettes?
    Bart: I guess that’s okay.
    Tony: Now, what if instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away. Would that be a crime, Bart?
    Bart: Hell, no!

  • Thought-provoking questions are good to ask, especially moral dilemma-type questions — questions whose answers change overtime (if we evolve, that is), questions that make us confront our hypocrisy and double standards. Even better than asking them is answering them, truthfully. If we’re honest with ourselves, we move a little closer to enlightenment. If we’re not, my hope is it’s temporary and sooner or later, another question is asked that will not only provoke thought but will elicit the kind of in-your-face honesty that revolutions are based on.

  • #3 resonates for me and I’m sure a lot of other people. Isn’t this why we make new year’s resolutions - we’re not happy with ourselves? I’m feel like I’m always working on this one - the internal voice inside my head.

    #9 (about knowing when you’ll die) is one I’ve been thinking about since reading Flashforward (it is also a tv show). One character knows he will be dead 20 years in the future, and he spends all those years trying to prevent that from happening - instead of actually living his life!

    Thanks for posting such complex questions for the start of a new year.

  • Amazing!!! I think everyone should ask themselves and or live by # 10, 18, 20 and 21….if you always thought about others or the consequences of your actions prior to them would those actions and the way you live your life be the same?? This would go along way to making our lives much happier and this a better place for our children!!:) Thank you for this..I wish more people would ask themselves these questions!!!

  • Some of these really stumped me, and I consider myself to be a fairly introspective person.

    Thanks for putting these together. It’s an especially useful time of the year to sit with a question and see what it can do for your outlook on life.

  • Great questions…. especially “If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?” Powerful.

  • Wow were you depressed a little today when you wrote all these questions? They seem quite negative overall if you ask me. Useful, but VERY negative. I’d be asking questions that instill more confidence and hope to people to believe in the good things if I had 25 questions to ask.

  • Fantastic list Marc,

    I especially love number 2 as it’s a great question about perception vs reality.

    I also love number 15 and I was in the process of writing something about that.

    Awesome post that really got me thinking!

  • @Mike King:
    I don’t think any of these questions are negative. Some of them involve the harsh realities of death and wasteful living, but I think they raise important points about life, passion, and the importance of spending our time wisely.

    @Everyone else:
    Thanks for the positive feedback and the added insight. I’m thinking of putting some more thought-provoking questions together sometime soon.

  • These are some very powerful questions that require honesty and really make you think. So many of us are continually working to make progress in our thinking and our approach to life. I think we have to ask these thought provoking questions of ourselves from time to time and really analyze our responses. It is how we live and learn. Thanks for compiling them and I look forward to the next group of questions you mentioned you would be putting together.

  • nice post :)
    here is my personal thoughts about question 2
    the person who is hung for killing someone would prevent 1000 similar crimes because other people will think many times before killing somebody. without death penalty what would prevent the guy who hates you from killing you now?

  • Wow! Just came across your blog whilst aimlessly looking on the net.

    It’s the perfect tonic to what has been a somewhat depressive start to the New Year and I realise that only I have the power to change (might sound cheesy to some but you know what I’m looking to make 2010 as cheesy as possible)

    Great blog - am looking forward to reading regularly!

  • I’m going to be completely unoriginal here and say that #3 and #9 were the two that resonated most for me. Excellent list of questions.

  • Wow, these are some difficult questions.

  • I really like this post.

    @#25, I don’t know the title yet but I definitely know how it will end: A list of “Thank You”s.

  • These are some great questions to ask yourself. The one that really sticks out is what’s the difference between living and existing. This is something I asked myself a long time ago and took time to answer.

    It’s all about enjoying life and doing the things you want to do. Don’t simply live to exist, but instead test yourself and do everything you possibly can : )

  • Translated questions and added to my blog with link to your article. If it’s not a problem ;)

  • Wow!. inspiring, joy and confidence building for me. A bit shaking up as well so thanks a lot!!

  • This was a great post. Some of the questions I really had to think about, some I honestly couldn’t answer (I’ll have to keep thinking about them) and some I answered very quickly and intuitively. Definitely the most interesting post I’ve read in a while.

    My favorite question was, “21. What’s the difference between ‘living’ and ‘existing?’” I answered that with, “Happiness.”

  • I think that this list has been pretty thought provoking but I answered all questions honestly. Then I hit #22 and thought to myself that this question is not a logical question. It assumes that your child/lover dies in a war then it assumes that you had a choice in that decision. I had a child in Iraq and I had no say in the matter, she made that decision and I supported her. I would sacrife no one on my behalf for any war. If I was of the age, I would go to fight myself.

  • # 3, 8, 17, and 22. I think these questions are essential to everyone.

  • The internet is so vast. I too stumbled on this…From the “stumble” web site. This is the 2nd blog I have ever seen, yesterday was my first. thanks for this post. valuable and thought provoking indeed.

  • These are some great questions to ask yourself. The one that really sticks out is what’s the difference between living and existing. This is something I asked myself a long time ago and took time to answer.

    It’s all about enjoying life and doing the things you want to do. Don’t simply live to exist, but instead test yourself and do everything you possibly can : )

  • This is a very AWESOME list of questions. I have number 26!

    Suppose you work with someone you are very close to. One day you come into work and find a problem. You tell your supervisor, and he/she fires the person responsible. You find out that it was your friend who got fired. Would you tell them that you were the one that alerted the supervisor of the problem?

  • “Would you rather be rich and paralyzed from the waist down or poor and able bodied?”

    my father, whom I love with my entire heart & soul, is a quadriplegic. he is able to provide me with love and support in an emotional/intellectual/physical/monetary sense, and go way beyond. & he has a similar relationship with my mother & younger sister. I am appreciative of everything he does for me and I try to reciprocate those feelings back, and I carry those values with me when I interact with other people.

    I think the question could be answered with another question…but are you loved (in either situation)??

  • I’m going to answer your questions because no one else did.

    1. I dont, I live my life.

    2. I dont support people killing each other, and I wouldn’t kill someone that kills a mother because that wouldn’t change anything,

    3. They wouldn’t be my friend, I hate the way I think already.

    4. Poor and able bodied

    5. I dont know, I dont like gifts

    6. I dont really know, I dont like to lie

    7. Stealing from people is wrong, stealing from stores isn’t.

    8. $20 - put gas i my car, $200,000 - a lot

    9. no.

    10. Half of my life would be a regret.

    11. Getting robbed because of my ignorance, it made me stronger.

    12. Freedom is knowing you are human and fully capable of doing anything within limits of the human body and mind.

    13. clothing dont make people, people make people

    14. I work 40 hours a week so I already hate my life

    15. TV rots your mind, I never play video games, I make music.

    16. WTF is green lights?

    17. I can already play guitar so not that, but I would like to be better on drums.

    18. Obviously.

    19. Not really.

    20. The weekend.

    21. Living is living you’re life, existing is not living you’re life just taking up space.

    22. I don’t support war and neither would m child or lover. (which I have neither)

    23. Both, I’m very opened minded

    24. Well I cant, so probably not because I wouldn’t be who I am today.

    25. I WRESTED A BEAR ONCE, I die.

  • It was a good day for this one: “If you found out you were going to die today, would you have any regrets? Would you be happy with the way you spent the last 24 hours of your life?”

    I just spent the last 24 hours conquering my fear of roller-coasters. I still don’t find them exactly enjoyable, but I didn’t die, and I even went on the upside-down ones.

    In the previous 24 hours, I was recovering from a hangover, due to a birthday party. With a pony. A real one. I pet it.

    In other words, I’ve spent the last 48 hours like an ill-supervised 10 year old. Tomorrow, I’ll be driving an hour to work in a town I hate, and taking care of school-related bureaucratic bull.

    Thanks for reminding me that its all downhill from here. :(

  • Would you rather be nice to people or would you rather tell them the truth? Which do you think is more important?

  • I think I would chose to be nice to people, and tell them the truth, when needed, in the kindest way! :D

    Funny how life questions are not so black and white!

    Angela
    Life Coach

  • I love this blog , it’s thought-provoking material helps expand my thinking.

Leave a Reply