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Answered: 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

September 4, 2015

I think it’s good necessary to sit back and answer life’s greater questions once in a while. You know, to reflect on your own life and your own thoughts and opinions. I think this lets you grow as a person. We spend so much time complaining or being unsatisfied, without really knowing what it is that we DO want. This is why I added this goal to my list:

No. 37: Answer ’50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind’.

This is a set of questions posted by Marc Chernoff as a blog article on Marc & Angel Hack Life in 2009. It’s circulating the internet ever since. I can see why. The questions are really deep and let you think about stuff that you’d normally take for granted.

I really wanted to answer these questions and see if it would change the way I look at things or do things. And today’s the day! I will answer the questions and complete this goal!


Tanya's 101 ~ Answered: 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

These questions have no right or wrong answers.
Because sometimes asking the right questions is the answer. – Marc Chernoff

  1.  How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I’d be 20 years old. Old enough to drive a car, live on my own and to start a family, but at the same time young enough to start a new study, start a career, travel the world, explore stuff and figuring out who I am and what I want in life.

I feel like I’m in this weird twilight zone for so many years now, but the age I have doesn’t really seem the appropriate age for that. I feel like I should have started a career ages ago, have a good amount of savings on my bank account, maybe planning on buying a house and thinking about starting a family with kids. Yet this all seems so totally science fiction to me.

  1. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Never trying, for sure. Failing is not a nice feeling, but it will teach you how to do things better in the future. Never trying will result in the most boring, most unsatisfied life ever. Failing is only a bump in the road, whereas never trying is having the whole road in front of you without going anywhere.

  1. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

That is a good question. I think it’s because we believe we should do things a certain way, because we are taught so, or because we see everyone else doing it. And every change takes a lot of courage. Staying where you are feels safe. So if you are in a job you dislike for example, it’s safer to stay there than to choose to quit and open a whole jar of insecurities. But only if you take that step, will you ever have the possibility to achieve what you truly want.

  1. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

If this question was asked a year ago, I would have probably answered yes. But now I truly hope I will actually do all the things I say I want to. This is the reason why I came up with this whole Day Zero Project in the first place. I didn’t want to be stuck in my dreams, I wanted to turn those dreams into reality. No matter how small those dreams were.

I still have a long way to go. It’s not easy actually doing all the things you say you want to. It takes constant action and a lot of motivation. But I’d like to be able to look back on my life when I’m old and say: “Wow, that has been an awesome journey.”

  1. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

Animal cruelty. That has to stop. I cannot believe the way we are treating animals in this world. It’s horrible and it breaks my heart. I cannot look at pictures of animals that have been abused and have not survived, because I will cry for days. We need better laws to protect animals. If this is something I’d be able to change after my law study, it would rock my world.

  1. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

Making music, making theater and crafting. And of course playing computer games. Or just hug animals all day long.

  1. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

I am definitely not a settler. I cannot believe people can be working for years in a profession they hate. Working is what you will be doing the greatest part of your life, so you’d better make it worthwhile. I always wanted to wake up and say: “Yay, I will be going to work today”, instead of: “Ugh, I have to go to work today.”

This is another reason why I have started the Day Zero Project. I don’t want to settle. I want to keep exploring, achieving goals and dreams, make my life worthwhile.

Yet sometimes I envy people who do settle. It makes life so much simpler. Sometimes it seems like I’m never satisfied. I’m always wondering: Was this the right choice? What if I’d chosen the other option? Would that have made me happier? I should find a way to be doing what I believe in, without keeping on wondering if I’ve made the right choices.

  1. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

Oh dear, then I would have only 10 years left to live… Or less, if I’d be below average. That’s a depressing thought. Then I would definitely try to find a way to travel the world. It has not possible for me for years now, because of my finances. But I want to see the world so badly. There are so many places I am dying to visit. I’d have to find a way to do this on a tight budget. Maybe I would even go live abroad for a while.

  1. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

I have let my life control by circumstances in the past for too many years. A wrong choice of studies, not having much any money to spend, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, my father who died, these were all circumstances that would drag me down enormously. But although life has given me lots of really sour lemons, I think my quality of life depended mostly on how I chose to deal with them. In the past I used to deal badly with these kinds of things. I would feel like they had taken over control of my life completely. As for now I understand this isn’t the case. Awful things happen, you cannot change that. But you can choose to enjoy the things in life that ARE going well. So I try to focus on those things now, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. I try to control the course my life is taking by setting goals for myself and living my dream instead of dreaming my life.

  1. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

I am worried about both actually. I am a terrible perfectionist, so I am constantly worrying about doing things right. This is something I am working on right now though, so hopefully this will change over time. I am also a doubter. I overanalyze everything I do, which makes me constantly worrying whether I am doing the right things.

These two traits have inhibited me for a very long time. It frustrated me enormously, because I felt like I was not going anywhere in life. My 101 goals changed this greatly. The clear goals make me DO instead of think. The amount of goals in the timeframe I have make me start achieving my goals instead of pondering about the most perfect way to achieve them.

  1. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?

I would tell them this person is my friend and I would tell them why he or she is so awesome. I would do it in a very calm way, not criticizing their criticism. And I would enjoy the fact these people would feel ashamed of themselves for saying these awful things. Not because I enjoy seeing people feel ashamed in general, but because I hate people bashing other people, especially when it’s distasteful and unjustified. My respect and admiration for those people would sink really low at that point.

  1. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t dream your life, live your dream.

  1. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

It depends on the circumstances. If it’s about saving a life, yes I would. But technically that would not be breaking the law, since there actually is a law stating you should break the law if you see someone in life danger and there’s no way to save them without breaking the law.

If it would be saving someone from going to prison for example, I would not break the law. If this person has done nothing wrong, I would use the law to get them out of prison. If this person has committed crimes however, they should suffer the consequences. My love for them wouldn’t change this.

  1. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

To be honest, I thought my friend Tulya was a bit insane when she founded our theater group Wow-Effect and planned to perform our very first performance twice on a fairly big stage. Oh and on top of that, without any playwright experience we would also write this play ourselves! But she hadn’t been insane. She had a dream and she decided to fulfil it. She never expected this to happen overnight. She worked her ass off to achieve it and she created a team of people who would work their asses off as well. And in the end it paid off. We performed the play on that big stage and we had a full audience twice. And we have created a play we absolutely loved, as did the audience. And on top of that, she has fulfilled one of my dreams as well. Poof, there I was, suddenly being a playwright. Something I would have never dared to try to become in one year all by myself.

  1. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

It takes me more time to do things than most people. Normal everyday things such as cooking, laundry work, so something creative. It used to bother me, but I have started to accept this. I know it’s because I am chronically fatigued. It still bothers me sometimes, but mostly I try appreciating that at least I can still do this stuff.

Something completely different: I also raise my dogs differently than most people. I train my dogs completely force-free and without luring with food. Force-free means no saying ‘no’ or ‘bad dog’ to my dogs, no hand gestures to stop them from doing anything, no pulling on the leash and no stay command. It doesn’t mean my dogs are allowed to do anything they please. It means I am teaching them to do the right things instead of punishing unwanted behavior. This method is so much more dog-friendly than all the regular methods. It makes me very happy to have discovered this method.

  1. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

Well, we’re all different people fortunately. I mean, if we all loved writing as much as I do, then who would serve my sushi in a restaurant? (Although I also love making sushi. Bad example. You get the idea though.)

The reason we’re all so different from each other is partly because of our genes and partly because of the things we experience in life, I think. If you listened to a particular song every time you had to celebrate something, it will probably make you happy when hearing it on the radio now, while your neighbor may be sad when hearing the same song, because this was the song he heard when his father died.

  1. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

Just one thing? Hmm… then I would say travel the world. As I said earlier, not having the means is holding me back.

  1. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

Probably stuff. I’m quite a hoarder. My house is full of things I don’t particularly need. I cannot seem to get rid of them, because every item brings back certain memories. Throwing away stuff equals throwing away a memory to me. I know it’s not right to hold onto so many things, especially not when I know that space makes me happy as well. But I still have to learn how to let go of these things.

  1. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

It would be either Australia, the UK or Italy. I have never been in Australia, but I’ve seen videos and I absolutely love it. There’s so much nature, you can drive for hours and not pass another house or human being. (Come to think about it, the same goes for Canada, but with less snakes and crocodiles and huge ass spiders. Canada sounds better! I’m wondering if it would be too cold for me though.)

Both the UK and Italy have beautiful old cities with baffling architecture. Italy also has one of my favorite languages and cuisine. The UK has London though. But it’s rainy.

  1. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

Lol. No. Do people actually do this? People older than twelve I mean?

  1. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

Sometimes I tend to believe I would rather be a joyful simpleton. No worries, just enjoying life. Sounds perfect. But then I realize I like the fact that I’m intelligent. I wouldn’t call myself a genius, but intelligent, yes. I wouldn’t want to give that up! I love learning and exploring. I love contemplating and pondering. And to a certain degree, I love the worrying part too. I shows me I think before I do, I take other people’s feelings into account, it shows me I care. I want to care. I do not want to overanalyze things, but at least I want to care.

  1. Why are you, you?

Partly because of the genes I have been given from my mom and dad. Partly because of the experiences I’ve had when I was younger. And partly and most importantly because I am trying to be the person who I want to be, by choosing how to act.

  1. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

Sadly not always. I notice myself failing to contact certain friends for longer periods of time sometimes, or failing to ask how they are doing. I try to be the friend I would like to have as a friend myself the best I can though. When I notice my friends are having a rough time, I try to be there for them and really listen. I try to let my friends know I still think about them even when I haven’t called for a while, by sending them cards on random days, or by taking the first step to ask to meet up again. And I try to hang out regularly at least with the friends who live nearby. The only thing I would like to change is to keep in touch more with my friends who live a bit further away and I don’t get to see weekly automatically.

  1. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

The latter. When a good friend moves away, you can still keep in touch. There are so many tools that make it possible to keep in touch regularly, despite any distance. And even when keeping it touch turns out to be a bit difficult sometimes, the friendship is still there. That won’t just go away. When you’re losing touch with a friend who lives right near you though, that means you’ve really lost a friend.

  1. What are you most grateful for?

For being able to do what I enjoy doing every day.

  1. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

Wow. That’s a tough one. Both would be devastating. Sometimes I say I would love to start over with a clean slate, but would I really? My past is filled with memories I’d love to lose sometimes, but at the same time they also made me who I am today. And losing all my great memories as well? That would be awful. Never being able to make new ones again though, that seems even worse. It seems to me that life would stop then. If you’ve lost all your memories though, you are not aware of any good memory you’ve lost. You could still enjoy your new ones though and fill your life with them. So I would choose losing all of my memories.

  1. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

In science? No. In relation to others? Yes. If you truly trust someone, you will know if they tell the truth without having to challenge it. The truth is not the challenge, trusting someone is.

  1. Has your greatest fear ever come true?

My greatest fear is probably to regret the way I have lead my life, since there’s no turning back. I thought this fear came true when I realized I had wanted to study something completely different than I’d done. I tried to turn the tide, but when this didn’t turn out to be possible, it crushed my life.

However, I managed to find something I truly love and do it every day. I have turned the tide after all, just a bit differently as I’d expected.

I am working really hard right now to be able to look back onto my life truly satisfied when I’m old. If I keep doing what I do right now, achieving goals, doing what I love every day and enjoying life to the fullest of my abilities, I think my greatest fear will never come true.

  1. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?

Well, five years ago my dad died. That made me extremely upset. I still miss him enormously, so I’d say it still matters now. I would love to have him still around and I regret the fact that he’s not.

Five years ago I was also the time when my dream of becoming a doctor was crushed, because our government made it impossible for people to do a study if you already had a bachelor degree. And it was the year I was threatened to be put on the streets, because I couldn’t pay my rent for a couple of months in a row. That both upset me extremely, and it all came on top of my dad dying. I ended up becoming extremely fatigued, what became the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I have today. I live in a beautiful home now and I am trying to pay my bills as a freelance writer, which is probably more awesome than being a doctor. But my body is still fatigued. That never went away. So yes, the times I was extremely upset five years ago still matter to this day.

  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?

My dad coming to visit me every two weeks. It’s so special, because he lived at the other side of the country, so I couldn’t just go see him. I wasn’t allowed to visit him either, so the only times I saw him were the times he came to visit me. We would play games together, write stories together, walk his dog in the park an eat ice cream in the city. I loved spending time with him, because he really understood me on my level. He knew how to have fun with a child (the only adult I knew who had that skill) and he always took me seriously. Sometimes we just had plain fun, at other times we would have deep conversations and he was really interested in how I felt deep down inside. That was truly special and something I really cherished.

  1. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

That would have been the time when Wow-Effect performed Bedtime Stories, the play I wrote. It was the very first time I had written a play and I was the most special thing I’ve ever experienced. Seeing my play performed on stage, with 200 people watching and enjoying it, made me feel more alive than anything else.

  1. If not now, then when?

Exactly. I used to be the person who procrastinated everything, but I realized my life wasn’t waiting for me. Time kept passing and without me doing the things I loved, I wouldn’t have a nice life to look back on. That’s when I decided to create these 101 goals for myself. I needed to do the things I loved. Now.

  1. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

Money perhaps. Some Most things cost money. That’s totally worth losing though, you just have to have it in the first place. Other than that, nothing should keep you back from achieving the things you want. I try my best to live my life that way now.

  1. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

Yes. I enjoy these moments. It gets you closer together with the person you’re with, I believe.

  1. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

Because some of the people who are practicing these religions either don’t know how to interpret their religions in a positive and peaceful way, or because these people are deliberately misinterpreting their religion to start wars for their personal gain. And most of the time these are people with a lot of power and thus the ability to scare a great amount of people. And when people are truly frightened, they follow the most unbelievable people.

  1. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

In some cases, yes. Saving a life is good without a doubt. Raping a person is evil without a doubt. But in most cases, you need context to know what is good and what is evil. Killing a man, for example. That seems a very evil thing to do. But what if you’d see that man pointing a gun at a group of people? Killing him would save the lives of all those people, which would make it a good deed.

  1. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

Technically I don’t have a job at the moment. I am trying to get jobs as a freelance writer and I have succeeded a couple of times already, but not enough to be able to pay all the bills. Winning a million dollars would make this seem an easy choice. I would not have to put any effort in building a company anymore. I could sit back and relax for the rest of my life. However, if I would win a million dollars right now, I would still try to succeed as a freelance writer. Writing is something I really love, so why would I give that up if I had a lot of money? I would travel the world while writing though.

  1. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

I would love to have more work I’m enjoying. That is the whole reason why I am trying to succeed as a freelance writer. I am also planning to go to Writer’s School in the future (after I saved up for it), so I can start writing novels. Of course I could also do that without attending classes, but I’d love to learn more about the technical aspects of writing a book first. That way I’ll have a greater chance of succeeding, I believe.

  1. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

Sometimes I do. Mostly those are the days when I cannot seem to motivate myself to actually do stuff and I am wasting my time on Facebook instead. I try to prevent those days, but I don’t always succeed, unfortunately. Especially not when I’m extremely tired.

  1. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

The day I went to the Chamber of Commerce to start my own company as a freelance writer. I just had gotten my first client and I loved the job I had to do. I knew this was something I wanted to be doing the rest of my life, so I started a company. I didn’t have a clue on how to get more clients and how to pay the bills with only writing, but I knew I had to try.

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

I would not visit someone, but host a party instead. That way I wouldn’t have to choose on who to visit and who to never see anymore, but I would be able to say goodbye to everyone I loved. By the way, I hope this means I was meant to be going to die as well on that day, because otherwise I wouldn’t know how to become happy ever again. It’s a depressing thought.

  1. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

No. I have no ambitions of becoming famous (although a bestseller on my name would be nice) and what in the world would I achieve by being attractive, that I would not be able to achieve right now? Besides, if I will ever become famous, I want it to be because of something great I achieved, not just because I can. I’m not Paris Hilton. And attractive? Well, I think I don’t look half bad as I am right now. I would only love to lose a bit lot of weight and then I would be truly satisfied with the way I look. I don’t need to be more attractive than that. The world is not ready for that. Lol.

  1. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Being alive is basically just breathing. Truly living means doing the things you love doing. It means enjoying your days and focus on the positive things in life. It means taking opportunities that come your way and creating new ones yourself. It means getting the most out of life you can.

  1. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

Right now. You should always do what you know is right. Easy to say though, I tend to overanalyze things myself a lot. But I don’t want to. It’s of no use.

  1. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Because mistakes make you feel awful. You learn from them, sure. But that’s only something you realize after a while. At first you feel terrible of the mistake you made and that can last for a pretty long time. No-one likes to feel awful.

  1. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Nothing. I don’t live my life for others, I live it for myself. So I always try to do things that I think are right for me, without thinking how others would judge me.

  1. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

Just after reading this question. Before that? I don’t know. I should meditate more often.

  1. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

I love so many things. I love animals, making music, creating theater, crafting, playing video games, photography, curling up on the couch watching a good movie, sushi, traveling, exploring new things, engaging with people all over the world, the list goes on and on.

And yes, I have done a lot to express this love recently. I have an internship at my dog school. I have two dogs, a cat and a ferret and for the past year I’ve taken care of my sister’s dog as well. I recently started to learn how to play the guitar and practice almost every day. I sing every day. I am writing my second play and I am acting in it as well. I started to learn how to crochet as well. I color and draw a lot, I keep a few art journals and I am starting a smash book. I try to take the best photos for my blog I can and I am currently developing my skills in food photography. In my theater group are people from all over the world and I am also pen palling with people from different countries and continents. A couple of weeks ago a friend came over and we made sushi together. Oh, and I have 101 goals all designed to do the things I love.

The only things I haven’t done very recently is curling up on the couch and watching a movie (but Ruud and I are planning on tonight and in my defense, we went to the cinema last month three times and curled up on the couch watching a series), playing video games (but I’m planning on this Sunday), and traveling (that really is a shame, I’d love to see more of the world. I am planning on some more city trips nearby in the near future though. It’s one of my goals).

Live your dream people. You should always do what you love. Life’s too short not to.

  1. In 5 years from now, will you rememberwhat you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?

Yesterday I wrote a new scene for the play and rehearsed that scene in the evening. I will definitely remember that five years from now, although I will not remember it having happened on that specific day. But If I’d have to think five years back then, I will definitely remember this play and me writing and rehearsing for it. I will also remember the smaller things I did yesterday, such as writing a letter to one of my pen pals and feeding my sick cat from a spoon and sitting in the bathroom with him on the floor, cuddling. Again, I will not remember the specific date, but I will remember all these things happening.

  1. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

I am definitely making my own decisions. It’s my life, so I should decide on how to live it. I don’t get a say in everything obviously. I don’t get to decide on the lifespan of my kitty, on the duration of my social security and on my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I’d love to have a say in those things, but I haven’t. But at least I am deciding on the things I can.

If you stuck with me until the end of this questionnaire, thank you. I know this has become quite a novel, but I really wanted to take these questions seriously. They have let me think and ponder and contemplate a lot today. Hurray! These questions actually made me realize how many things I have in my life that I love. I have a life to be grateful for. That’s a good thing to realize, since I tend to forget it sometimes.

“As long as you have your health’, is how the saying goes. Well, I don’t have my health. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy and have a fulfilling life. On the contrary. As long as I keep doing what I love.

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  • Reply Alicia Marlene September 4, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I wish I could leave a more detailed response but all I can say is thank you for giving me so much to think about! THank you for these 50 questions and I can’t wait to figure out my own responses!

  • Reply Kali September 4, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Loved this! I would really like to do one of these one day. Thanks for sharing and for giving me inspiration!

    • Tanya de Kruijff
      Reply Tanya de Kruijff September 4, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      I’m glad you loved it. 🙂 Its nice to know I have inspired you.

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