We’ve all been there. 3 a.m. You’re beat, but your mind won’t let you sleep. Like a dog with a bone, it keeps noisily gnawing on the same questions. Well, professor Ben Fletcher and his team have sought to identify the questions that keep us up at night. Here’s the top five:

  1. What do I want?
  2. Am I doing the right thing?
  3. What do other people think of me?
  4. Wheream I going in my life?
  5. Why do IACTthe way I do?’


As there’s a good chance that these questions also keep you up at night, I’ll blog on each of the five. Once I’m done, you’ll be able to read about them.


 Am I doing the right thing?


This question plays with your worst insecurities. Is it going to work? Do you even know what you’re doing? Are you a good person? Do you even know what the right thing is? Faced with so much uncertainty, you may be tempted to stay in bed. But that wouldn’t work, as the question would come and torment you just the same: Are you doing the right thing to stay in bed? Booh!

The problem with this question is that the world “right” is spread all over it, like a fast-pawed, razor-clawed, overfed yet ever-hungry tiger. From a distance, it looks like the cutest kitten: right, good. Everybody wants to be right, everybody wants to be good. Beware: right and good are evaluative words. And there’s barely a slip from evaluation to judgment. With words as slippery as right and good, you’ll slip and fall harshly on your behind. And as you look up, you’ll see your mind threaten to beat you with the stick of that question because, let’s face it, you are most likely not doing the right thing. Which in turn means that you are wrong and not a good person.

You know what, nobody forces you to wade in the quicksand of right and wrong. By now you most likely know that nothing is good or bad in itself. Not even ice cream. One scoop is good. Seven scoops? Not so good. Like psychologists and folks who don’t want to give you straight answers say: it depends on the context.

When you leave the world of good and bad, you enter the world of what works and what doesn’t. To dwell in the world of good and bad doesn’t work. Because good and bad are absolute categories, they are not adapted to the ever-changing nature of reality. Welcome to the enchanted world of: “It depends!”

So, is what you’re doing working? That depends on where you want to go. Which brings you (and me) back to the fourth most popular keep-you-up-at-night question: Where am I going in my life? You can read my answer to this question by clicking here. Or you can carry on reading the next two paragraphs.

The other question that can help you identify if what you’re doing works to get to where you want to get to, is the keep-you-up-at-night question that arrived in pole position: What do I want? If you’ve already answered this first question, which you can read about in a future blog, there is a good chance that it’s getting easier for you to identify if what you do works to get to where you want to get to.

And if you’re not so sure, take the time to notice the result of what you’re doing. If it works to get to where you want to get to, do more of it. If you notice it’s not working, try something else and go back to the beginning of this paragraph.