20 Questions To Ask Yourself To Figure Out What Brings You Joy

There are times in life when joy seems to naturally find its way into your life. If you have ever enjoyed a surprise that brought joy unexpectedly into your life, you know that wonderful rush of pleasure and positivity it brings along with it.

While these random and unexpected moments of joy-inducing surprise are great, it would be wonderful to be able to experience more joy in your life without having to wait for it to magically reappear. Fortunately, it is possible to figure out what specifically brings you joy so you can bring more of that emotion intentionally into your life.

If you are not sure where to begin finding more joy, don’t panic – it is possible to explore within yourself to determine exactly what brings you joy so you can begin experiencing more of it. To begin the process, explore these twenty questions by using them as a guide to reflect inward on yourself and your personal experiences so you can use them to create your own road map to more joy.

Also read: 30 Day Challenge To Experience Joy For 30 Days

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How To Ask Yourself Questions 

The idea of sitting around and asking yourself a bunch of questions as if you were going through an in-depth interview may seem a little silly. If this seems like something you might struggle to actually do and take seriously, consider turning these twenty questions into a series of journaling prompts instead of a spoken conversation. 

While some people can have a natural spoken conversation with themselves quite well, it doesn’t come as easily for everyone, and that’s okay! The best course of action when engaging in serious self-reflection is to do what makes the most sense for you. 

Asking yourself questions doesn’t have to follow the flow of a typical conversation, as if you were speaking with a completely separate person. Instead, challenge yourself to jot down your answers in ways that make the most sense to you. 

For example, you could create bulleted lists or even write about past memories you remember when considering these various questions. Many people find the act of writing down their thoughts and journaling about their experiences is a great way to engage in self-reflection because they can always return to what they have written and reconsider their thinking processes or add more to their thoughts if needed.

Also read: 25 Practical Ways To Find Joy

The Importance of Asking Yourself Questions 

Typically, people ask questions because they want to learn new or unknown information from someone else. Think about the last time you asked someone a question; perhaps you even asked someone a question already today. you may have asked them how they are feeling, how to find something at work, or where they want to go on vacation. The sheer number of questions we ask and answer every day is staggering. 

Because we ask questions to learn new information, it is important to know how to also ask yourself questions. It may seem a little weird to ask yourself questions; after all, don’t you already know everything there is to know about yourself? The answer is, shockingly, no! 

People lead extremely busy, bustling lives. People often overlook detail because they are moving so quickly from task to task, place to place, obligation to obligation. In this hustle, they can easily lose sight of parts of themselves that should seem obvious or easy enough to answer…such as, what brings them the most joy in their lives.

Asking yourself questions and making yourself really think and dig into the answers is an excellent way to engage in serious self-reflection. When you are trying to make a big change in your life, such as tackling a self-improvement project or to better understand an aspect of yourself, such as understanding exactly what brings you joy, it is imperative that you know how to ask yourself good questions that will help you unearth the correct answers. 

Asking yourself these kinds of questions opens the floodgates for your thoughts to pour out, helping you truly understand the answers to the questions. Asking yourself questions and self-reflection is an excellent way to really get to know your truest self. In this case, you can ask yourself a series of deep and thought-provoking questions to gain a better understanding of what brings you genuine joy in life.

Also read: How To Live A Joyful Life Deliberately

20 Questions – What Brings You Joy

Ready to get started asking yourself questions to better explore your sense of joy and what sparks it? Clear your mind, find a quiet space to work, and grab something to write with – you can speak aloud, journal your responses, or engage in a combination of the two. Ask yourself these twenty questions to help yourself discover the true roots of joy in your life.

Also read: The Power Of Joy In Times Of Fear, Hardship And Chaos

Q1 – What activities do I lose track of time while doing because I enjoy them so much?

Have you ever really “lost yourself” when engaging with a favorite activity, hobby, or pastime? Perhaps you started jogging, reading a new book, or playing the guitar…and the next thing you know, hours have passed by without you even realizing it! Pay close attention to these special interests – they likely hold far more meaning in your life than something to merely pass the time. 

When you focus on the specific activities you enjoy so much that you can do them without feeling time pass, then you are engaging in an activity that brings an immense amount of true joy into your life. 

Spend time reflecting on this important question, and once you determine your shortlist of favorite activities, make sure you are giving yourself plenty of opportunities to do them! Think about it: if you completely ignore the clock, your to-do list, or any impending tasks because you are so consumed with what you are currently doing, it must inspire a lot of joy within you.

Also read: Cultivating a Joy for Living Mindset

Q2 – When do I feel most alive, inspired, or energized?

Being alive is not the same as actually feeling alive. Pay close attention to the times in your life when you actually feel alive – these are moments when you are hyper-present and mindful of the current moment because you are experiencing a great amount of joy. This can also happen when you are feeling particularly inspired or energized. 

When you know the types of moments in life that make you feel particularly alive, inspired, or energized, determine how you can invite more of these moments into your life so you can experience even more of this pure joy. 

Take note of all the seemingly “little details” when you consider these moments in your life – often, they are clues to what you can do to recreate and recapture that joy again in future moments of your life.

Also read: 8 Zen Activities to Harness Joy

Q3 – What hobbies or interests have I always wanted to explore but haven’t yet?

If you are ready to invite more joy into your life than ever before, you may need to explore avenues you haven’t ventured into yet. Think about hobbies, activities, or interests you have always wanted to experience or explore but haven’t yet. People come up with many excuses to put off exploring a new hobby or activity, such as…

  • I don’t really have time for this.
  • What if I’m no good at this new hobby?
  • I should probably stick to my responsibilities/tasks, etc.
  • I should be doing more constructive activities when I have free time.
  • Spending time trying to learn something new would be wasteful. 

Choose a few and make a plan to introduce yourself to them. Rather than continually dreaming about trying a new sport, signing up for a club, or taking that art class, actually commit to giving these kinds of interests a try. You may find a brand new way to invite even more happiness and joy into your life by letting yourself exit your comfort zone and explore the unfamiliar.

Also read: 20 Steps To Let Go And Release Your Past

Q4 – Which people in my life bring me the most happiness and fulfillment?

Think about your closest and most beloved friends and family members. Among all of those people, who among them bring you the most happiness and feelings of fulfillment? Make a list of those people and make plans to spend more time with them. The people who are bringing you the most happiness and fulfillment in your life are the same people who will help you experience more genuine feelings of joy.

Human beings are highly social creatures and naturally crave spending time around others. When you couple this natural craving with people who already bring you an increased sense of happiness and fulfillment, you have a perfect recipe for adding more joy in your life. 

Q5 – What places or environments do I feel most at peace and content?

The Welsh language has a special word for a special little place that makes you feel especially happy, comfortable, and content: “cwtch” (pronounced like “cutch”). While the word can also describe a safe spot for protecting your valuables, it also refers to places and environments where you feel at ease and happy. 

Identify any special cwtches in your own life. Perhaps you feel most content and peaceful when you are taking a stroll through nature, relaxing in your cozy living room, or studying in your favorite local coffee shop. 

Wherever these special places and environments are, find more opportunities to spend time in them. Doing so can help you increase your joy.

Q6 – What achievements or accomplishments have brought me the greatest sense of pride and satisfaction?

Knowing that you achieved or accomplished something is an excellent feeling. You may look back on your previous achievements and accomplishments with feelings of pride and excitement over what you were able to do with your own ingenuity and hard work. Think specifically about all the times you have achieved or accomplished something that made you feel extremely proud and satisfied with yourself afterward.

Once you have your list of achievements and accomplishments, think about what specifically made you feel proud and satisfied with yourself in these specific instances. Understanding the root cause of your joy through your own achievements and accomplishments is an excellent way to not only remind yourself of what you did, but also how you can repeat those results again in the future. 

Q7 – What activities or experiences make me laugh or smile the most?

Though it is a very popular phrase, the idea that laughter is the best medicine holds a lot of truth, especially when it comes to your happiness, joy, and overall mental health. Take a few minutes to ask yourself what activities or experiences tend to make you laugh or smile the most. 

Understanding exactly what it is that makes you laugh and smile is an excellent way to intentionally invite more of that happiness, humor, and pleasure into your life for even more joyful moments.

To make these snatches of joy even more accessible, consider creating a playlist of your favorite music to dance to when you are feeling down, or a playlist of funny videos to watch when you need a laugh. Make a plan to call your funniest friend for a catch-up chat or plan to meet them for dinner when you need more laughter-inducing joy in your life. Knowing that you have these precious resources at your disposal and that they are guaranteed to make you laugh every time is incredibly helpful and special.

Q8 – What books, movies, or music never fail to lift my spirits or inspire me?

Think about all of the media you really enjoy consuming because it makes you feel better after you’ve read or watched it. Keep a short list of favorite books, movies, and songs that help lift your spirits or help you to feel more inspired. 

When you need a joyful boost during the day, pull up a playlist of your favorite music or watch a video that makes you smile. Keeping these favorite media outlets on hand is a great and easy way to add more joy into your life when you need it most. 

Q9 – When do I feel the most connected to myself, others, or the world around me?

What makes you feel connected to the other people in your life, or to the world at large? Having a good grasp on what makes you feel like you belong with others – whether in a one-on-one setting, small social setting, or within a larger-scale community view – can help you purposefully and intentionally create more joy-inducing situations where you can spend more time around these people who matter most to you. 

By intentionally creating opportunities to spend time with people who radiate positivity and encourage a joyful attitude within you, you are far more likely to experience that kind of happiness within yourself and your life.

Q10 – What values or principles do I hold dear that bring me a sense of purpose and fulfillment?

All people have their own unique sets of values and principles. When you have a strong understanding of which beliefs you hold most closely is an essential part of inviting more joy into your life. Simply put, when you feel firmly rooted in a foundation of personal beliefs, it is much easier to live an honest and authentic life that makes you feel proud and true. 

Sometimes getting a firm grasp on your unique set of values and principles can be challenging – these ideas are often abstract, and determining exactly what matters most to you can feel difficult to articulate. 

To make the process easier, spend some time journaling about what principles and values make the biggest impact on your life and why you feel that way. Some examples of various values and principles include (but aren’t limited to)…

  • Honesty 
  • Loyalty 
  • Respect
  • Love 
  • Peace 
  • Doing the right thing, even when it is hard to do so 
  • Believing in yourself 
  • Being a helper 
  • Kindness 

…and many more! 

All people hold their own unique sets of values and principles; some people will value certain traits higher and more importantly than others, and that is normal. All people are different, and the way they view their specific sets of beliefs can be influenced by a number of things, such as familial upbringing, cultural backgrounds, and more. Regardless, doing some deep digging into your own unique set of values and principles can help you understand them better. Once you ask yourself this important question and work hard to better understand them, it will be easier for you to live in an authentic (and joy-inspiring) way that best aligns with your personal beliefs.

Q11 – What small daily rituals or routines do I enjoy and look forward to?

People enjoy having routines. While living life exactly the same way day-to-day can get a bit dull, it feels good to know that certain parts of your day are automatized, predictable, and stable – for example, you may expect to start each morning with a fresh cup of coffee, no matter what else your day is going to entail. 

Ask yourself which parts of your daily rituals and routines you enjoy and look forward to most. Identify the parts of your day (like that nice, hot cup of quiet morning coffee before the chaos of the day settles in) that you really enjoy. Once you identify them, find ways to make these specific parts of your normal routine even nicer. 

For example, if that daily cup of morning coffee makes you happy, enhance the experience – make yourself a cozy spot to enjoy it, listen to your favorite music, or read a chapter of a book while you drink it. Finding ways to purposefully inject more joy into your day is easier when you are already enhancing an activity you look forward to doing.

Q12 – What childhood memories bring me the most joy and nostalgia?

Unfortunately, many people lose touch with their “child selves” as they age. After going through all the experiences of childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and then finally, mature adulthood…the experiences of being a kid can feel extremely distant and long-lost. 

Try to recapture some of that pure childhood joy by asking yourself which parts of your childhood make you feel happiest and most nostalgic. What memories, events, or activities from your past stand out most when you reflect on that period of your life?

Once you have a list of these specific memories, find ways to recapture that joy. While the activities or events you recall may not be exactly the same (it would be difficult to revisit your childhood neighborhood pool if it closed down years ago), you can find ways to recapture the same spirit of that memory.

For example, if you really miss those long, lazy summer vacation days at the neighborhood pool, find a community pool in your new city and spend some time there. 

Making an effort to recapture those special moments and memories from your youth may not be 100% the exact same as they were during your childhood, but making the effort and re-experiencing some of those special memories will bring lots of extra joy into your adult life.

Q13 – What goals or dreams have I always had that would bring me immense happiness if achieved?

There are hundreds (if not thousands? Millions?) of reasons and excuses you can give to not chase after your biggest dreams and goals in life. For example, you might tell yourself…

“I don’t have time to work toward that kind of goal.”

“I wouldn’t be able to actually meet the goal anyway, so why bother trying?”

“I have a professional job now, so I should probably lay that dream to rest.”

“I don’t think I could handle the hard work that goal would require.”

“I don’t even know where to start chasing after that old dream.”

“I am a lot older now than I was when I originally had that goal.”

…and every single one of these self-limiting thoughts are joy killers. It is important to remember that the hard work you put into working toward making your goals and dreams come true is a part of the entire experience, and that can be joy-inducing. 

Think about why those goals and dreams you have always wanted to achieve bring you those feelings of immense joy. Even with all the excuses in the world, would you want to remove the opportunity to experience the journey (and all the joy found within it) from your options? No! 

Spend some time really contemplating these old goals and dreams. Take time to really break down the necessary steps to meet them. Once you do this, you will likely realize that you absolutely could capture this specific and special kind of joy in your life, one small step toward progress at a time.

Q14 – What acts of kindness or generosity do I find most fulfilling or meaningful?

Doing good – especially when you do something good for others – feels good! Spend some time asking yourself what acts of kindness and generosity you find most fulfilling and meaningful to enact. Do you enjoy volunteering in your community? 

Do you like to donate extra food to your local community pantry? Do you like using your special or unique  skill sets to assist neighbors, friends, family, or coworkers in need of assistance? 

However you enjoy engaging in acts of kindness, once you determine what those specific activities are, spend more time doing them! Make a point to express kindness and generosity whenever you can, especially if it entails doing it in ways you also enjoy. 

Seeing your efforts bring goodness and light into someone else’s life is a unique way to experience joy – not only does it bloom in your life, but the life of someone else as well. 

Q15 – What experiences have left me feeling deeply grateful and appreciative?

Consider past experiences that have left you feeling grateful and appreciative. Ask yourself…

  • What was I doing at that point in my life?
  • Who was with me during these experiences? Was I alone?
  • What were the results of those particular experiences?
  • What was my mindset when these experiences were happening to me?
  • Where was I during these experiences?
  • What about those experiences specifically made me feel grateful and appreciative?

Once you have a solid list of past experiences and can articulate specifically why they made you feel grateful, determine what you can do in your present life to recapture some of those emotions. While you may not be able to completely recreate those past experiences, you can…

  1. Find joy in the memories of those experiences from the past, and 
  2. Extract details from those experiences and find ways to infuse your present life with them so you can have more new joyful experiences.

Q16 – What moments in my life have brought me tears of joy or overwhelming happiness?

Some moments in life cause you to experience a level of joy that really pushes you to the extremes of this emotion – and that’s a beautiful thing to behold! Think about the moments when you reached this zenith of pure joy, so intense that it made you feel tearful or overwhelmingly happy. 

Similarly to the previous question, you can ask yourself the “whos, whats, wheres, whens, and whys” of those special experiences. 

Once you have some specific details about what made these particularly joyful moments, you can again revel in the memories of those past joys while also determining ways to use those details to recapture some of that joy in new ways.

Q17 – What challenges or obstacles have I overcome that have brought me a sense of resilience and strength so I could recapture joy?

It is a fact of life – all people go through tough times during their lives. While it isn’t fun to think about the potential negative “what ifs” and possibilities of the future, it is a natural and normal part of life to experience the ebbs and flows of being a human being. 

Spend some time reflecting on past challenges and obstacles you overcame, even when it felt like you might not be able to do it. Spending time in reflection about these moments will help you remember that they are in the past for a reason – despite those challenges being so difficult, you managed to move past them and keep living! 

Not only is this something to be proud about (you may even find your perseverance and resilience joyous in itself), but it is something you can learn from about reclaiming lost joy the next time you experience life’s unexpected challenges.

Q18 – What aspects of nature or the outdoors do I find most rejuvenating and uplifting?

While human beings are certainly intelligent, advanced creatures, it is essential to remember that, deep down, we are still animals! Just like all the other species we share Earth with, we are natural beings of our natural planet. This means we do indeed crave outdoor spaces (even when we also equally enjoy our air conditioning and other modern-day indoor technology and amenities). 

Ask yourself what you enjoy most about nature and the great outdoors. For example, perhaps you love the feeling of grass on the bottoms of your feet, the gentle breeze on your face, the scent of fresh flowers growing, or the warm sunshine on your skin. 

Whatever you love most about being outdoors, find opportunities to let yourself enjoy these special moments outdoors more often. 

Be mindful when you are spending time outside and really let yourself experience simple joy and pleasures from being a natural creature in the natural world.

Q19 – What creative outlets or forms of self-expression do I find most fulfilling?

Being creative is an amazing way to further explore parts of yourself that can be challenging to articulate with words alone. For example, consider some of your favorite songs, art pieces, literature, theater performances, and more – these works of art often inspire deep feelings within you because they are expressions of the deep feelings and intense life experiences of the artists themselves. 

Consider which creative outlets and other forms of self-expression you find most appealing and fulfilling. Once you determine what those are, make plans to do them more often! Make time to paint, write, dance, draw, sew, or whatever it is you love to do as a form of creativity or self-expression. 

Working through your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs creatively is a phenomenal way to increase your sense of joy and self satisfaction. 

Q20 – When do I feel the most aligned with my true self and my deepest passions and desires?

Think carefully about the times when you feel most aligned with your truest self. This is the version of yourself that helps you feel connected to all of your passions, desires, hopes, goals, and dreams. When you think about yourself being ultra connected in these moments, take special note of when this happens, such as…

  • Who you are with 
  • What you are doing 
  • How you are feeling 
  • What is happening around you 
  • Why you are there 
  • Where you are 

Asking those ever-important “who, what, where, when, and why” questions can help you build a solid foundation to understand the best moments you can curate for yourself to experience deep and genuine feelings of joy. 

Again, while you cannot always perfectly recreate a joyous moment, you can give yourself opportunities to experience similar levels of joy again by using those details to set yourself for future joyous moments to happen again.