Friday, July 31, 2009

Arguing on the side of truth

Do you sometimes find yourself in sharp religious/spiritual/philosophical disagreement with someone who is entirely wrong in his/her position? Is this kind of disagreement between people inevitable?

Why do people sometimes actively propound ideas that they know are incomplete, misleading or entirely untrue? What can people gain by deliberately distorting or muddying the truth?

This week's theme is spiritual beliefs.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Learned and unlearned

What are some things religious leaders taught you that you later re-examined and rejected?

This week's theme is spiritual beliefs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Please don't change my mind

Do you hold beliefs that you are simply unwilling to examine, because you wouldn't know what to do if they turned out to be incorrect?
This week's theme is spiritual beliefs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The possible, and the impossible

What is an example of something in your spirituality or religion that you know for sure? What is something that you know is true, even though you may not be able to prove it to other people?

What is one spiritual or religious theory that you know is wrong, even though you never studied it in detail? What is one possibility that you know is impossible?

This week's theme is spiritual beliefs.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spiritual beliefs

Whether or not you identify with any specific religion, you probably believe something about the world and your place in it. You might place your faith in a pantheon of deities, the small voice of inner wisdom that advises you when you most need it, or your own personal strength and will. This week, we'll look at your spiritual beliefs as first taught to you in childhood, and how they've developed as you've walked the path to your grown-up life.

What are your beliefs? What are they based on?

This week's theme is spiritual beliefs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Top Ten: household chores

What are ten things that seem to constantly need doing in your home, the ten chores that never end?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

National Propose-a-Holiday Day

If you had a chance to propose one new national holiday, what would it be called, and what would you want people to do to commemorate your new holiday? A whimsical answer is okay, but it might be interesting to seriously think about the set of existing holidays and come up with something or someone that you believe ought to be honored or celebrated.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feel the burn!

When you can't seem to do something well, what keeps you going when you would otherwise give up? What leads you to try again when you have failed at something? Are you motivated by the encouragement of other people who want to see you succeed? Are you motivated by the example of people who have already accomplished what you are trying to do? Or do you have an internal, competitive drive — the determination to do as well as, or better than someone else?

This week's theme is skills and strengths.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I remember when we used to...

What skills did you practice in childhood, but gave up by the time you became an adult? What skills or talents do you wish you had, but never took the time to develop? What are some skills you have that are no longer needed because they are tied to obsolete technology or are otherwise dated?

What long-abandoned skill or talent would you like to take up again? What's stopping you?

This week's theme is skills and strengths.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When you need a ________, call me!

Which of your skills are the most practical? Which is the most esoteric? What is one skill you're just as happy not to have to put to use?

This week's theme is skills and strengths.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If I could just do this one thing

What is your persistent weak point? What could you do to turn your weakness into a strength?

This week's theme is skills and strengths.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Skills and strengths

When you think about who you are, beyond your age, race, and ethnicity, probably the next things that come to mind are your strengths and skills. We identify so strongly with the things we can do well, sometimes we forgot that we're made up of more than that. This week, we're going to take a look at the things you do well...but also the things you don't do so well. It's the things we do well, that other people don't do so well, that we often take for granted. On the other hand, the things we don't do so well are often our worst enemies, keeping us from trying new things or revisiting old ones.

Think of all of the areas where you have at least a moderate level of skill. How many skills can you list in sixty seconds?

This week's theme is skills and strengths.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Top Ten: recurring dreams

Do dreams carry hidden messages? If they do, the dreams that we have again and again just might have the most important messages for us. Recurring dreams can be pleasant -- stories of great achievement or exciting places -- but more often, these dreams are frustrating, frightening, or dissonant in some way.

What are ten stories or themes that repeatedly turn up in your dreams?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The place of success

Place names are often spoken metaphorically, for example as symbols of power (Red Square), centers of particular industries (Hollywood, Detroit, Wall Street), or icons of chaos (Bedlam) or security (Fort Knox). Generic places are used metaphorically too: mountaintop, watering hole, crossroads.

What place is a metaphor for success for you? When you think of a place that stands for great success, what place comes to mind first?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Face the music

Drifting is muddling through life, guided by inertia, while postponing or avoiding difficult decisions. What makes those big decisions so hard to face? If you decided you were ready to face some of your difficult decisions, who or what might be available to give you moral support?

What would it mean if you had to take full responsibility for your direction in life? What would you have to give up? And what might you ultimately gain?

This week's theme is drift.

Update 7/22: Do you feel like you're drifting through life? Just how serious is your drift problem? Now you can take the "Are You Drifting?" quiz at The Happiness Project blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A new life

Imagine you somehow had a chance to rebuild your life circumstances from scratch, to "rewrite" your life and freely choose your focus and direction. What would your newly created life look like? What would your biggest goals be? Where would you direct most of your energy?

What elements of your current life would you want to make sure to retain while building your all-new life? And which elements of your life are accidents of circumstance that you would be just as happy to leave behind?

This week's theme is drift.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You may already be a winner

Do you have fantasies about someone or something coming along to rescue you from your current circumstances? Do you spend much time thinking about winning the lottery, getting an unlikely "big break," or being beset by a large-scale disaster that changes your circumstances without your having to take any action? If so, you might be experiencing drift, which is characterized by a lack of responsibility for your circumstances and direction.

What is your favorite (or most frequent) fantasy about being rescued by external forces?
How likely is that to occur? If it did occur, what big, difficult decisions would you be able to avoid?

This week's theme is drift.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Warning signs

When Gretchen Rubin wrote about drift, she listed several warning signs. How many of these apply to you?

Do you complain about a situation without taking action to change things?
Do you feel passively carried along by circumstances that are being guided by other people or processes?
Do you say to yourself "This can't go on" -- but it does go on anyway?
Do you secretly hope that some external force will come along to "blow up" a situation and stop the course of events?

This week's theme is drift.

Monday, July 13, 2009


At The Happiness Project blog, Gretchen Rubin describes a phenomenon she calls Drift. Drift might be defined as proceeding through life without consciously choosing a direction and without taking responsibility for your decisions.

Gretchen emphasizes that drift doesn't always mean taking the easy route. You can work very hard and experience great hardships while drifting. "Once unleashed, drift is a powerful, often almost unstoppable, force."

Are you drifting in some parts of your life? What aspects of your life seem to be controlled by forces outside of your control? Are you moving forward on a path that you don't remember choosing for yourself?

This week's theme is drift.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Top Ten: places

Think of the places you've been to, away from home, whether on vacation, on business trips, or traveling for any other reason. What are ten of the most memorable places you have visited?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Are you always excited to plan a vacation away from home, or does it sometimes feel like just another thing you have to do?

At the end of a vacation, do you feel rested and refreshed? Or do you need another vacation to recover from your vacation?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eating on the run

When you're extremely busy or stressed, how do your eating habits change? Are there things that you eat only when you're under pressure?

What are some healthy habits that you manage to maintain even in the most hectic of times?

This week's theme is food and eating.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eating better

Do you eat in a healthier way than you did a few years ago? What are some healthy eating habits that you've established? What are some of your successful strategies for eating well?

This week's theme is food and eating.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Menus from long ago

What is one food that you associate with celebrations?
What is one food that you associate with romantic dates?
What is one food that you associate with hardship or difficult times?

When you think of memorable occasions from your past, how clearly can you remember what food was on the table?

This week's theme is food and eating.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's for dinner

How much choice do you have about what you eat? Do you sometimes eat things that you don't particularly like, or that you know are unhealthy, because you have a limited range of choices (or no choice at all)?

Are you a picky eater? Or are you okay with almost any kind of food? What are some things that you refuse to eat?

This week's theme is food and eating.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dinner bell

What are typical mealtimes like for you? What are some of the sights and sounds that you associate with mealtimes?

Do you eat by yourself, or with other people? Who do you eat with most often? Do you often work or watch TV while eating? What are some of the things you might do while you eat?

This week's theme is food and eating.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Top Ten: leaders

Who are the top ten authority figures in your life? This can be a teacher who made a difference, a politician who actually changed the way your world worked, a coach or a parent who inspired, or anyone else who was a leader to you in some way.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Are you free to express your political beliefs where you live? What legal constraints limit your political freedom? If there are no legal constraints, what societal constraints limit them? Do you fear prejudice and discrimination — or other social sanctions — based on your politics?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Parents just don't understand

What are some seemingly pointless things you did as a teen, simply because your parents demanded it? What were some times when it seemed your parents were keeping you on a short leash, unreasonably limiting your options?

When did your parents criticize and belittle your ideas and opinions? Do they still do it now?

This week's theme is adolescence.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Baptism by fire

What major embarrassments did you live through in adolescence? What other events in your teen years shook your self-confidence and your feeling of self-worth?

What event in adolescence boosted your confidence the most?

This week's theme is adolescence.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It was the worst day of my life!

What personal stresses and challenges had an impact on your teen years? Was your family affected by unemployment or difficult economic circumstances? Were you a target of discrimination because of race, religion, ethnicity, appearance, or other differences?

This week's theme is adolescence.