Instead of giving you information that you want, I’m going to teach you something today by being indirect.
Here’s the lesson: everything you need, every revelation I’ve had, and everything that I could possibly write about on this blog, ca
n be found inside yourself.
As in – with the proper thinking and questioning, you too can come to the conclusions that I’ve come to. You can help yourself instead of depending on me for help.
“But Brett,” you ask, “Won’t that render you obsolete? Won’t I, the reader, then be able to replace you?”
No, not necessarily. I’ll be able to give you the information at a rate much faster than you’ll be able to articulate it for yourself, which gives my writing its value. Also, my thoughts will usually be more clear than yours, since I’ve had a longer time to play around with my ideas within the framework of my reality.
However, the lesson I’m trying to teach you is not that you can become me, but that when you need something – an idea, the strength to carry through your will, or anything else – it can be found within. No one else can give it to you – and it’d be foolish to spend your whole life depending on others to do so.
To reach my goal for you, I’m going to ask you deep, philosophical questions that will test your thinking ability. There are no right answers – only answers that make sense to you.
These are designed to make you think. Don’t expect to come to an answer that satisfies your mind and spirit easily.
(Also, as a note, keep in mind that I’m going to keep my own answers to these questions private. I don’t want my judgment clouding your own)
1. If you dislike your family, are you obligated to spend time with them? Show up at family functions? Help them out in their time of need? Is a family even relevant anymore – especially when you have a close circle of friends?
2. Is it better to eat healthily all the time, or should we allow ourselves to indulge once in a while? Similarly, does this argument apply to drug use – even illegal drug use?
3. Why do we call some religions “mythologies” (ancient Greek, Norse, Egyptian, etc.) and others religions? Is this fair? What does this show about how relevant certain ideas are as society progresses?
4. People often talk about the growing gap between the rich and poor. However, today’s poor (in the United States, at least) are much better off than most people (not just the poor) were a century ago. Does it matter that there’s an increasing gap between the rich and the poor if the standard of living for the poor keeps going up?
5. How would you live your life if you had a week to live? How would you live your life if you had 5 years left to live? How would you live your life if you were going to live forever?
6. Is it truly worth it to die for a family member or friend? Yes, you’d be a hero, but that person would feel guilty for your death for the rest of their lives. Is that “brave” act actually cowardly because you’re transferring the guilt that you’d have felt if you did nothing and watched them die to your friend, who has to deal with the guilt of causing your death?
7. Is a day spent watching movies when you could’ve been working a day wasted or well spent?
8. What’s more important to a relationship: common values or other commonalities (like tastes in music, interests, etc.)?
9. What’s your opinion on love? Are there different types? Can we separate love from infatuation? Are there any qualifiers to make love “true” (rather than “fake”)?
10. Can we ever be sure that our perception of things is right – without consulting other people? If we do consult others, how are we to know whether theirs is true or if we’re both deluded?
11. Would your life be better or worse if you knew the day, time, and place that you were going to die?
12. What is honor? Does honor matter anymore?
13. Is it reasonable to have a sense of delusional confidence in your abilities, or would you rather build confidence by performing well in the past? If you choose the latter, doesn’t that mean that a single bad performance can shatter your confidence in yourself?
14. What should be the role of sex in society? Is it a big deal? A small deal? Somewhere in-between?
15. Would you be a martyr and give up your reputation amongst your peers to do what you know is right? Or is it better to be pragmatic and sit and do nothing?
16. Would you rather be insane in a functional society, or one of the people running a profoundly dysfunctional society?
17. Could you be persuaded to kill? If your answer is no, then how much money would it take to get you to change your mind?
18. If saving the human race required the sacrifice of yourself and everyone you love, who would you choose to save – you and your loved ones or humanity at large?
19. What if your God doesn’t exist?
20. Are the stories we tell ourselves about our past true, or do we bend the truth so we can create our stories? If the latter is true, than what worth is there in the stories if they aren’t true?
21. What is true strength?
22. What would happen if you never wasted another minute of your life? What would that look like?
23. Some say that striving for perfection is unhealthy. What if striving for perfection made you improve faster than you would have if you had lower expectations for yourself? Which way would be better?
24. Would you rather live for 10 years in excellent health, or 30 in “average” health, assuming that period started on your 18th birthday?
25. Is open-mindedness really a virtue if truly destructive ideas are spreading in society?
26. What would crush you more: seeing the love of your life die by getting hit by a car, or getting the call from your doctor that told you that you had cancer and had 6 weeks to live?
27. How do you think of yourself – hero or villain? Is the worst identity to have not the villain, but the person who is powerless?
28. How much control do you really have over yourself?
29. What do you think of white lies? Why do we tell others them? What if we went without them?
30. Who are you? Names, nationalities, and virtually any other socially-defined attributes do not count. Deep down, who are you?
And a few extra questions:
1. Does your happiness depend on where you live? For example, if you owned Santa Monica Real Estate, some of the most expensive in the world, would you truly be fulfilled?
2. Does your happiness depend on your health? For example, if you are a Breast Cancer Survivor and in the future, you have a relapse, would your happiness be affected by that news or would you embrace your suffering with acceptance and joy.
3. Is there something in your life right now that must be rooted out such as a pornography addiction?
1) Print out a copy of this post or write these questions down in a notebook.
2) Answer these questions – write your answers down (or at least capture the main points).
3) Return to this post six months from now, open a new page in your notebook, and repeat steps 1 and 2. IMPORTANT: DO NOT look at your answers from before.
4) Compare your answers. See how much your understanding has evolved over the course of six months. Ask yourself what has made you change your answers.
5) If you so choose, repeat steps 3 and 4 a year from now as well.
6) Leave a comment with an answer to any of these questions. I’m really interested in what you guys are thinking!