25 Totally Terrifying Meaning of Life Questions Worth Asking

One of my wishes for Profound Journey is that it be a community.  To that end, the Tribe Stories section of Profound Journey is a place where you are invited to talk with all of us. Sometimes you might share a story. Sometimes you might want to answer questions: not-too-scary, slightly scary, or perhaps totally terrifying meaning of life questions.

Stories from the Tribe

So far, we’ve heard from:

The Choice is Yours

If you think you might be interested in sharing on Profound Journey, your choice about how you do that is wide open.


  • Share a story that reveals a personal concern (as defined in the post on virtual friendship): role, goal, skill, or value.
  • Tell us a story about an experience you’ve had.
  • Answer whatever questions you choose from any of my three lists, including the totally terrifying meaning of life questions below.
  • Or make up your own questions and answer those.


  • Written responses are great. I’m happy to add photos or to use ones you provide.
  • Or how about a collage, a poem, a painting, or a video?
  • If you’d rather chat and you live in North America, send me your phone number. I will interview you over the phone and write up the responses for you.

But if you don’t want to do any of that, that’s fine too. Use these totally terrifying meaning of life questions to have heartfelt conversations with loved ones or for some intimate self-reflection.

25 Totally Terrifying Meaning of Life Questions

Here are the questions. If you prefer, you can download a copy of the meaning of life questions here.

  1. What in your life might make other people envious?
  2. What ghosts haunt you? (question from Natalie Goldberg)
  3. Where did you always want to go, but didn’t?
  4. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  5. If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today? (Question from Sofo Archon)
  6. What did you start over again?
  7. When was the first time you were afraid? (question from Natalie Goldberg)
  8. What do you yearn to give, and to whom would you give it? (question from Martha Beck)
  9. Under what circumstances are you willing to lie?
  10. What was your biggest mistake?
  11. What is your purpose in life? How is it reflected in the way you use your time?
  12. If you were given a choice to live as long as you want, how long would you like to live? (Question from Sofo Archon)
  13. What are you avoiding?
  14. Describe an experience that led to personal growth.
  15. What is your biggest problem or issue right now?
  16. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  17. What does a ‘full life’ mean to you? What does it look like?
  18. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?
  19. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back? (Question from Marc Chernoff)
  20. What activities make you feel really useful, alive, and strong? (Question from Danielle LaPorte)
  21. If you woke up tomorrow with no fear, what would you do first? (Question from Dawn Barclay)
  22. What will you need to do differently if you are to live the life you truly desire?
  23. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken? (Question from Marc Chernoff)
  24. What will be your legacy?
  25. If you could erase an event from your mind, which one would you choose? (Question from Dawn Barclay)

Which question would you be least comfortable answering? No need to say why. 

Join the tribe:


  1. I love this new list, Karen. What a fantastic way to really get to know someone and find out what’s important to them, and where your values align. If I’d have more time right now, I’d jump on the opportunity to answer them all! Maybe later in the year. I’ll bookmark them!

    1. And that comment right there is why your blog title is “A Life Less Ordinary” Liesbet. You are a risk-taker.
      I suspect that when you allow me to be a beta reader of your memoir, I will read the answers to many of these questions.

  2. You have terrified me with all these lists of questions that I can’t answer. OK, I’ve glanced at them (this one plus the others you referenced in your friendship post) and when I struggled with a few questions I glimpsed, I started freaking out. Do I really even know myself? Breathe.

    I’ve downloaded them… and will think on them. And we’ll see if a post emerges… or not. Is that answering #13?

    1. Yes, just breathe, my friend. No pressure. No call to answer all or any of them publicly. Maybe take the three lists, cut them into strips, toss them in a jar and, when you’re feeling reflective, pull one and think about it or journal about it.
      P.S. – There are a whole lot of them that I can’t answer either.
      P.P.S. – Maybe start with the “Not-too-Scary” questions rather than the “Totally Terrifying” ones. Just saying.

      1. There’s the pick and choose method (find the easy ones). The ask the Universe (pick from a jar). And then there’s the “get out of your comfort zone” for the scary ones. Will be interesting to see where I go over the next few days!

    1. Lurking works, Jacqui. You’re super busy getting ready for the release of your new book. When you have time, all this opportunity for self-reflection will still be here and everywhere.

  3. Oh, my – Karen so much to think about – exhilarating and terrifying! I don’t know where to begin. I could sit all day to ponder, explore, and answer your questions but get nothing done in my own writing goals…. With each click on a link, I find more depth to ponder. I will certainly take these questions for reflection and get back to you! I would love to share thoughts in your tribe stories, but not quite sure where to start. I’d love to chat with you via phone if you are interested.

    1. Absolutely I am interested in a phone chat, Janet. We can connect via email and set something up.
      And under no circumstances do I want to get in the way of your own writing. Just as your A-Z posts gave me lots of ideas for my own blog, I hope that the list of questions will give you some ideas for yours.

  4. You’ve given me a lot to chew on here, Karen. Even if I was willing to open the flood gate and let the words pour out, I’m not sure I would ever share them. I always say I going to reflect on it for a while, but I never do. Facing our inner truths are uncomfortable and so it’s easy to push aside. You make me think – and this post more than usual.

    1. Hi Joanne. I’m with you. I did a post where I answered the 25 Not-too-Scary questions. Someday I might do one where I answer some or all of the Slightly Scary deep questions. But I don’t know that you’ll ever read a post from me where I publicly share more than one or two answers to these Totally Terrifying questions.

      If they are something you think you’d like to reflect on for your own purposes, you might want to try what I suggested to Pat above. Cut the questions into strips, put them all in a jar and, when you’re in a reflective mood, or maybe as you’re heading out for a walk by yourself, pull one of the strips and let your mind play with it through the day.

      1. That’s an interesting idea! My mind is always very active when I’m doing something repetitive – like walking, weeding, etc. Giving myself something to actually ponder could be that mental break I’m looking for.

  5. Oh boy, these are questions that will take some quiet time and deep thought to process properly. I think they are a great exercise for anyone to tackle and I plan to do just that – in my journal at least.

  6. Hi Karen, great list and a wonderful lesson in self-awareness. I find doing these kinds of exercises makes you think and I know I found more about myself doing the recent post ‘Me from AtoL’. It is good to look inside ourselves and think of how we feel and what makes us tick.

    1. I agree, Sue. That said, it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes real courage to ask ourselves deep questions and stay with our feelings long enough to get to the answers. We have to be kind to ourselves and willing to baby step our way to greater self-awareness and self-understanding.

  7. Hi, Karen – Thank you for the mention above. Although there are some questions on this list that I could confidently answer in one or two words, other questions would take more than my mere written words could express. It is also interesting to reflect on how differently we may have answered some of these questions, at different stages of our lives. Thank you for sharing this very thought-provoking list.

    1. Yup, these questions are definitely of the more words is better variety, Donna. And you’re right. It would be a fascinating exercise even now to see how the words are answered today and how they would be answered if revisited in ten years. I may just try that … in my journal. I’m not brave enough to do so publicly, at least not yet.

  8. ooookaaaayyyy – just found this list and have checked out your other less terrifying questions – mmmm the timing is or could be exquisite – I am in profound change right now – so I will look into this and see what I can offer .. it might be what I need to give me a focus as everything is unstitching around me and I am not at all sure if I will even be able to write about what is going on for me…

    1. You’ve really piqued my curiosity, Sandra. It would be wonderful if you feel like writing for sharing but even if you don’t, if you need a listening ear through private email, I’m always available.

  9. Hi Karen! I think your questions are great and am really tempted to jump in there and start giving them a go. BUT, do you mind if I also do them as a blog post on SMART Living 365? If I can do it as my weekly blog post then I can fit it in. Otherwise, I’ll have to carve out a bit of time and come back later. What do you think? Just let me know. ~Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I’m delighted that you’re finding the questions meaningful.

      By all means you should do whatever works best for you. I know that SEO is affected when a post appears in a couple of places and the benefit goes to the first posting. But honestly, I don’t care. My site is starting to be found quite easily on the web so I now happily focus on making sure that Profound Journey is the community that I’d been hoping for and that is happening. Yay!

      1. Hi Karen, from what I understand it “helps’ if you just change the title and the first sentence or two because that is what Google crawls. But I’ve been doing this for 8 years now and have done it exactly the same a number of times and as far as I can tell it hasn’t changed a thing. I have jury duty tomorrow and your questions might take my mind off the “obligation” and put it into something I love so I’m going to work on it! ~Kathy

  10. Wow—these questions aren’t just food for thought; they’re a whole warehouse’s worth! Love them, though. Introspection is a powerful, powerful thing, and one whose power we need to harness for ourselves more often. Without it, we risk falling into complacency, and there is no worse enemy to growth than that. I’ll try my hand at a few of them—and I love the idea of doing something other than essays. I’ll try a collage maybe, or a video. A video collage!

    Thanks so much for the visit over at Donna’s blog for my guest post. I left a lengthy reply on your comment there, so I won’t repeat it here, but I just wanted to say (again) thank you for giving your two rescues such a loving home! The world needs more of you. And I’m glad I found this community you’ve created here; looks like an amazing group of people. I’ll be back often.
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

    1. Thanks for visiting, Guilie. It is indeed an amazing group of women here at Profound Journey, and you’d make a great addition to that group. You’re welcome back anytime:)
      A video collage would be a very clever and interesting idea for some of the ‘totally terrifying’ questions. Karen

  11. That is a great list of questions. Many of them would be great topics to journal about. Several are things that I have already spent a great deal of time thinking about and that have shaped my current life. A few are useful reminders of things to keep in mind. And a few do not resonate at all.

    The one that stimulates my thoughts the most at this moment is number 19: What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back? (Question from Marc Chernoff)



    p.s. please thank your web developer for fixing the comment identity information so that your site remembers me from one time to the next, so I no longer need to fill in my info every time!

    1. I will let Shiraz know that you’re pleased. Thanks, Jude.
      And thanks for your thoughts about the questions. I wonder if your pondering about #19 will lead to an action and maybe a blog post. Hmmm.

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