100 Questions for Knowing Thyself
The path to self-knowledge begins with this series of questions.
“Know thyself.” With the sobriety attributed to the god of both measure and beauty, this instruction greeted pilgrims upon their arrival at the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Beyond religion and ritual, the invective is a sign of its position at the forefront of the life of ancient Greece. Through a combination of now unfathomable circumstances, it likely arrived from the India of the Vedas. There, some 3,000 years ago, certain wise men experienced the need to observe their own minds, doing the same thing that the later priests of Apollo would advise to their supplicants: to know themselves.
Names and faces change. But the exploration of being has been one of humanity’s defining activities. The quality we call consciousness has taken us, perhaps unwittingly, on to the need to understand our own lives. To some extent, human beings don’t have enough of life. We also have to understand why, and for what purposes, we live. Throughout history, many traditions, currents of thought, philosophical systems, scientific disciplines, and others, have all tried to offer answers to these questions. The truth is that every person needs to travel the path alone. Every person needs to elaborate both the question and the answer to endow both with their own essences, with that vital substance which arises from their own experiences, their words, their way of being, and being in the world.
Below we present a series of questions which seek to inspire this search by the human being for itself. It’s not a test to be answered in a single session or one with correct, precise, or strict answers. As is often said, its purpose is to encourage reflection and self-discovery. These are tasks which by definition require time, discipline and a disposition, and which after all find their own reward, because one who knows oneself is usually able to make better decisions regarding one’s own well-being. In a broad sense, this is because one has found the direction and the means to lead one’s life to the very doors one wants.
How do you rate your current health status?
Excluding any hereditary ailment, how often do you get sick?
On average, how many times a year do you go to a doctor?
Have you had bone fractures or other serious injuries that have affected your daily life or even immobilized you? When was the last time you went through a situation like this?
Do you usually take medications without a prescription? Analgesics, antacids, etc.?
How many hours a day do you spend sitting?
Do you usually take part in any physical activity?
Do you think you have a healthy lifestyle?
If your answer is no, would you like it to be? Why haven’t you done it so far?
What do you think about when you think about your body?
Do you have a stable job?
How satisfied do you consider yourself in your work?
What has been the average time you’ve spent at all your jobs thus far?
How satisfying do you consider your professional development?
Beyond a work environment, are you aware of your skills, talents, knowledge, etc? Which are yours?
Beyond formal work, do you do any other activity in which you use your skills, your knowledge, etc.?
If so, does that activity carry any kind of social recognition? Do you generate extra income? Is it recognized in your community, etc.?
Is there a project of a professional nature that you’ve always wanted to undertake but to date you’ve not been able to do?
What reasons do you think have prevented you from having done so?
Do you manage your income based on a budget?
Do you distribute your income according to your personal priorities?
Are you aware of how you use your money?
Do you have money saved?
What happens to you when you “want” to do something? Do you do it? Do you deny it? Do you postpone it?
What happens when those “desires” to do something come into conflict with another purpose that you’ve proposed? For example: this year you thought to take a trip of which you’ve always dreamed, but it may mean spending less when you go out with friends, preparing food at home, looking for other sources of income, etc. Can you easily do what it takes to fulfill that future purpose?
How easy or difficult is it for you to propose something new? In your work, in your personal life, with your friends, with your partner, or for yourself?
How easy or difficult do you think it is for you to fulfill a purpose you’ve set for yourself?
What is your reaction when something unforeseen happens? Do you get upset? Do you adapt quickly? Are you embarrassed? Do you get paralyzed?
Do you usually procrastinate?
What are you doing to procrastinate? Do you watch TV? Do you check your social networks? Do you take a nap? Do you clean or order your space? Do you message a friend? Browse the Internet? Play a video game?
Have you lost track of time doing any of these activities?
Has procrastinating ever caused you to be late for an appointment, to not deliver a task on time, etc.?
In what situations are you most likely to procrastinate?
How would you describe your relationship with food?
Do you have and respect fixed times to eat?
Do you usually eat something outside of those hours?
Do you eat until you feel satisfied? Do you eat until you feel a little less than satisfied? Do you eat beyond feeling satisfied?
Are you able to go hungry? Does it bother you to feel hungry?
Do you know what a balanced diet consists of?
Do you have the means to know what a balanced diet is?
Do you have the means to eat a balanced diet?
Are you on a balanced diet?
Do you consider yourself addicted to anything? Do you smoke? Do you drink alcohol? How often?
Are there specific situations in which you feel the need to smoke, drink, or to consume some other substance that alters your consciousness?
Do you consider yourself a sociable person?
How easy or difficult is it for you to establish a relationship with other people?
How well do you get along with your colleagues at school or work?
With the exception of your relatives, who is the person you’ve known the longest and who you’ll still see often?
Do you feel loved by your friends?
If a person, spontaneously, makes a sincere show of affection, recognition, gratitude, etc., what is your most likely reaction?
In a social situation, if something unpleasant happens and which directly affects you, what do you think will be your most likely reaction?
Do you consider yourself an emotionally mature person?
Are you currently in a relationship?
How much time have you been in the relationship?
How satisfied are you in the relationship?
If it’s a relationship of more than one year, do you consider that the relationship has changed positively over time?
Have you and your partner made plans together? Have those plans been fulfilled? What kind of future plans have you made with your partner?
Do you consider sexual activity with your partner satisfactory?
What happens when you and your partner have a conflict? How do you resolve it?
How sincere do you consider the communication between you and your partner?
What bothers you about your partner? Have you let him or her know? Is it something that causes you discomfort?
Are you aware of your qualities that affect the development of the relationship? Have you done anything about those qualities?
Have you noticed any kind of pattern in your relationship that leads to situations of discomfort?
What does the way you finished your previous relationships say about you?
If you don’t have a relationship, would you like one at this time?
If your answer is yes, what do you feel has prevented you from starting a new relationship?
If your answer is no, why don’t you want a relationship?
When you realize that a person likes you, how easy or difficult is it for you to establish contact with that person? Are you looking for it, or do you expect it to look for you?
If that person is not interested in you, what is your reaction?
What do you expect from being in a couple? What do you think you can give in return?
What memories do you have of your parents’ relationship?
Do you find any link between those memories and the choices you’ve made over the course of your life of people for whom you’ve felt some kind of attraction?
How would you complete these sentences?
My relationship with men is…
My relationship with women is…
What makes you think of the answers you’ve given?
How do you consider your sex life? What makes you think of and feel that response?
In your childhood, what place did you occupy in your family? Were you an only child, the firstborn, the youngest?
Based on that place, do you feel that you received a specific definition or task? For example, the person in charge, the one taking care of your siblings, the one who could do as they pleased, etc.?
What implications do you think that place and those tasks have had in your personal development?
Do you recognize any pattern in your later life derived from those experiences? With your friends, with your partner, or in your professional environment? For example: do you sometimes behave like the eldest child, or do you unconsciously expect to be treated like the youngest child?
How is your current relationship with your parents?
If you have siblings, how is your relationship with them?
Do you have any kind of resentment toward your parents? Toward your siblings?
Do you have any sense of guilt in any of these relationships?
Are you able to see your parents as people, as human beings, and not simply as parents?
Also in Faena Aleph: Carl Jung on Acceptance as Healing
Image: Self-portrait with a Sunflower, Anthony van Dyck (public domain).
7 Recommendations for Organizing Your Library
For the true bibliophile, few things are more important than finding a book from within your library.
Red tea, the best antioxidant beverage on earth
Red tea is considered to be the most unusual of teas because it implies a consistently different preparation process. ––It is believed that its finding came upon surprisingly when traditional green
A brief and fascinating tour of the world's sands
To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. - William Blake What are we standing on? The ground beneath our feet
Strengthen your memory with rosemary oil
For thousands of years rosemary oil has been traditionally admired and used due to its many properties. In the Roman culture, for example, it was used for several purposes, among them cleansing, as
Literature as a Tool to Build Realities
Alain de Botton argues that great writers are like lenses through which we can see an infinite array of possibilities.
Mandelbrot and Fractals: Different Ways of Perceiving Space
Mathematics has always placed a greater emphasis on algebra, a “purer” version of itself, one that is more rational at least. Perhaps like in philosophy, the use of a large number knotted concepts in
Luis Buñuel’s Perfect Dry Martini
The drums of Calanda accompanied Luis Buñuel throughout his life. In his invaluable memoirs, published under the Buñuel-esque title, My Last Sigh, an entire chapter is dedicated to describing a
A Brief Manual of Skepticism, Courtesy of Carl Sagan
Whether or not you’re dedicated to science, these tips to identify fallacies apply to any form of rigorous thinking.
How to Evolve from Sadness
Rainer Maria Rilke explored the possible transformations that sadness can trigger in human beings.
Alan Watts, A Discreet And Charming Philosopher Of The Spirit
British thinker Alan Watts was one of the most accessible and entertaining Western interpreters of Oriental philosophy there have been.