Saturday, December 17, 2005

Curious about the Power of Questions - What Are You Asking Yourself?

“#12. What would I attempt if I knew I could not fail?” - from Michael Angier’s list of 101 Best New Year Questions

This is the time of year that we start asking ourselves questions - or at least I do - about the year that is just about over and the New Year starting. Did we accomplish all we planned and wanted to - or even more? And, what questions will be pertinent for the upcoming year?

Will we have some of the same goals (or resolutions) or brand new and lofty ones?

How about you? Do you ask yourself those hard questions, like “#10. What isn’t working that should be working?” Or, how would you feel about some questions that probe into who you are and that “confront ethical dilemmas in a concrete rather than an abstract form.”

Rediscovering (on my own bookshelf) Gregory Stock’s The Book of Questions (217 + further in the back of the book), I have been experiencing fun, discovery and lots of soul searching. Way back in the late 80s when I was an active Toastmaster, I often used questions from this gem for Table Topics.
  • “206. Would you be willing to eat a bowl of live crickets for $40,000?”
  • “132. If you went to a beach and it turned out to be a nude beach, would you stay and go swimming? Would you swim nude?”
  • “121. Were you able to wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else, would you do so? Whom would you pick?”
  • “79. For $20,000 would you go for three months without washing, brushing your teeth, or using deodorant? Assume you could not explain your reasons to anyone, and that there would be no long-term effect on your career?”

And then Stock has many deeper and life-direction questions, for example:

  • “135. Which would you prefer: a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure - intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?”
  • “68. When has your life dramatically changed as the result of some seemingly random external influence? How much do you feel in control of your life?”
  • “35. Would you give up half of what you now own for a pill that would permanently change you so that one hour of sleep each day would fully refresh you?”

The copy of the book that I own was published in 1987, so I began to wonder about Dr. Gregory Stock and what he is now doing. A quick search on Google made it easy.

Dr. Gregory Stock currently directs the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at UCLA's Medical School, where he is a visiting professor. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life. He co-organized the first major symposium on human germ line engineering in 1998, and he continues to speak often on radio and television. His latest book, Redesigning Humans, discusses the impact of genomics and bioinformatics on future human evolution. He is also known for his thought-provoking value-clarifying questions. The Book of Questions, now in its 55th printing, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into 17 languages.

I also checked on and he has other types of Questions books. So, treat yourself, and don’t forget during this busy holiday season to ask yourself some important - and also fun - questions.