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Targeted Thinking January 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Meditation, Mindfulness, People.

Some people claim they can’t meditate because they can’t get their thoughts to slow down long enough to see the sky beyond the clouds.

As an interim measure, they can give themselves a more mindful approach to thinking by focusing on a specific target.

Instead of allowing their thoughts to stream by on auto-pilot, they can reclaim the reins and give themselves something to think about.

Pick a cloud.  Any cloud.


One tool designed with targeted thinkers in mind:  The Book of Questions  by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.  With no “right” or “wrong” answers to trip over, this book causes readers to look deep for answers.

It’s a terrific conversation starter and/or companion for road trips.

A few questions from the First Edition:

12.  If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of your 30-year-old self for the last 60 years, which would you want?

35.  Would you give up half of what you now own for a pill that would change you so that one hour of sleep each day would fully refresh you?

72.  If you could have free unlimited service for five years from an extremely good cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, masseuse, or personal secretary, which would you choose?

73.  Would you be willing to go to a slaughterhouse and kill a cow?  Do you eat meat?

78.  If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?

100.  What do you most strive for in life:  accomplishment, security, love, power, excitement, knowledge, or something else?

140.  Would you like to know the precise date of your death?  How might knowing when you’ll die help you to plan your life?

198.  If you could pass your whole life cared for in every way as you slumbered peacefully, entranced by wonderful dreams, would you do so?

213.  What would you like to be doing five years from now?  What do you think you will be doing?

A few reviews:

“The best questions are the ones you can’t Google. Here is a whole book of them.”
—Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist

“Capturing both future and present dilemmas, this deceptively simple book packs a real punch.”
—Ray Kurzweil, author of How to Create a Mind and founder of Singularity University

“These questions can take you into critical examination of what you are doing in this life.”
—Robert Thurman, professor of Buddhist studies, Columbia University

“A good question is better than a brilliant answer. I personally focus on the word ‘quest’ in question, which is the essence of each interlocutory.”
—Richard Saul Wurman, creator of TED

“These questions will get you thinking about some of the things we can go through a lifetime avoiding; they’re deep questions, but then humans at our best and most real are deep people.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey

“Don’t know what to do this weekend? Here is the answer: Pick up this book and drive your friends, loved ones, neighbors, and strangers crazy with smart, tough, interesting questions.”
— Juan Enriquez, TED speaker and coauthor of Homo Evolutis: Please Meet the Next Human Species

“The Book of Questions covers an enormous range of challenging issues with wit, insight, and brio.”
—Arthur Caplan, Director of Medical Ethics Division, NYU Langone Medical Center

“In a world endlessly in search of answers, Greg Stock reminds us that what really matters are the questions.”
—Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception

“Your answers to these questions will help us decide what humans should be. Take your time.”
—Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick at Wired and author of What Technology Wants

“Provocative, surefire conversation starters. Watch out; some of them will have you questioning old and comfy assumptions.”
—David Brin, author of The Postman and The Transparent Society

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. katecrimmins - January 13, 2014

Gosh, this is heavy stuff for a Monday morning. Very good questions though.

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

We took the Book of Questions with us when driving back to Orlando with our nieces. We had a great time picking questions and sharing answers.

But I must have COFFEE first. 😀

2. William D'Andrea - January 13, 2014

12. I am now 68 years old, and in very good shape for a man my age. However I wouldn’t want to still be thinking the way I did when I was 30. My mind and thoughts have continued to develop. If they hadn’t, my writing wouldn’t have become as good as it was by the time I joined webook.com in 2008.

35. I hardly ever sleep all the way through. Just a few hours sleep is all I need, and I do feel completely refreshed when I get up in the morning. Even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t give up half of what I own for it.

72. I’d prefer not to have people doing things for me, that I can do for myself.

73. We human beings are naturally carnivorous, so while the thought of killing a cow in a slaughter house does revolt me, it still doesn’t keep me from enjoying a good piece of well cooked meat.

78. & 140. I wouldn’t want to know when I’m going to die. I’d feel totally doomed, and unable to enjoy life.

100. What I strive for most is to just keep on writing; I never feel more content than when I’m writing and posting an entirely new work.

198. That’s life in a coma. Who wants that?

213. Five years from now, I’ll probably be posting answers to the questions posted here on “Spirit Lights the Way”.

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

Good answers, William. Your last response made me laugh . . . and wonder if I’ll still be blogging in 5 years.

I agree with you about #198. Even if our challenges seem “too challenging” at times, living in a perfect world would get old.

3. suzicate - January 13, 2014

I’d like to keep the body of my thirty year old self, BUT only if I can keep the mind I currently have!

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

Yes! I would like to have my 30-year-old body back again ~ while allowing my mind to continue to explore and grow.

Thanks for playing along, Suzi.

4. Grannymar - January 13, 2014

I am happy enough to live in the moment. Thirty was a special time, but without Jack, I have no interest in going back.

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

I get that completely, GM. There are moments I would love to revisit, but not if I had to re-live life from that point forward, erasing all the other experiences I’ve had.

5. Three Well Beings - January 13, 2014

What a really good book! I have a good group of friends–and we all remember one another well at 30–our answers could be very revealing! 🙂

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

It’s a fascinating springboard for discussions with friends. Or for an afternoon of quiet introspection and reflection ~ it’s interesting to consider how our answers change over time due to changing priorities and life circumstances.

6. CMSmith - January 13, 2014

Good questions. If I were 90, I would absolutely take the mind of myself at 30. I’ve been down that dark road of dimentia and don’t have complete confidence I am to escape it.

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

That’s was my first thought, Christine. Then I thought how much more easier it is to go out and do things and stay active if I feel good, and sleep well, and don’t have aches and pains. Since physical activity and social interaction tend to stave off dementia, I did a flip flop ~ I decided I’d keep my 30 year old body and allow my mind to age.

And then I realized that my 30 year old body is long gone. 😐

7. ericjbaker - January 13, 2014

Interesting questions, and interesting that your readers seem to be fixating on the 30-year-old body question! The chronic back pain I have now I also had at 30. Can I go back to age 10 for 3 minutes and avoid the accident that ****** up my back in the first place?

That wasn’t one of the options, was it?

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

We often mold the questions to suit our quest . . . that’s what makes the book so fun. If you don’t like a question as phrased, re-phrase it before answering.

I wish I could wave my magic want and give you back those 3 minutes.

8. Andra Watkins - January 13, 2014

Deep thoughts. Maybe I’ll ponder a few of these on my 15 mile walk tomorrow. I haven’t had a hard time zoning out or brainstorming during these treks, but it’s always fun to bend the mind.

nrhatch - January 13, 2014

You might want to download a copy of the e-book to keep you company if you start to go bonkers on your 444 mile trek ~ with 200+ questions to choose from, the time will fly. 😉

9. Pix Under the Oaks - January 14, 2014

#100- Less worry. I am working on it. It is presently better.. 🙂
# 72- An extremely good cook!

nrhatch - January 14, 2014

Yay! And yes! A cook is who I’d choose. It would be great to dream up a menu and have it appear.

10. colonialist - January 14, 2014

I have a nice, easy, cop-out answer for all of them. “Depends on my mood of the moment.”

nrhatch - January 14, 2014

Yup. On terrible, horrible, very bad days, I might choose the Dream World of #198. :mrgreen:

11. jannatwrites - January 14, 2014

Those are some interesting questions to ponder. The first question really struck me. I’d have to go with keeping the mind of my thirty-year-old self. (My body wasn’t that great at thirty anyway – I was trying to lose baby weight 🙂 ) With my great-grandma’s dementia, grandma’s Alzheimer’s and some things I’m seeing in my mom’s thinking now, I’d like to retain my mental capacity. The body can be maintained with hiking, biking and eating healthy foods.

Oh, and how’s this for hypocritical: no, I’d never slaughter a cow, but I ate steak last night 🙂

nrhatch - January 14, 2014

I expect you’re not alone ~ most people wouldn’t want to kill the cow to eat a steak, Janna.

Here’s hoping that we maintain body and mind as we age with dignity and grace.

12. diannegray - January 15, 2014

This sounds like a great book. We have friends who come over for dinner and we sit around asking similar questions – it can make the night very interesting and boisterous!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

I want to come over and play!!!

I find that having the book there makes people less reluctant to answer questing questions ~ without it, they often say, “THAT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” :mrgreen:

13. Booksphotographsandartwork - January 15, 2014

Some of those are easy but too many of them make me crazy! # 78 I think you know the answer to that one, NO Way! I don’t understand people who do that. What kind of horrible life is that? The horror. It’s not done quickly or nicely. How can one do that and go home and sleep easy at night?

The book would be fun on long trips.

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

It is a great little book to stuff in your bag for trips . . . or even hanging around at the doctor’s office. Much better than idle worry.

14. Leading Lambs To Slaughter | Spirit Lights The Way - January 20, 2014

[…] the recent post, Targeted Thinking, I included a few questions from The Book of Questions, […]

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