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Michelle Obama’s 31 Questions you SHOULD Ask Yourself

Hot off the publication press [19th November 2019] and hot on the heels of a rip roaring best selling Memoir [every middle aged woman I know got it for Christmas last year] Michelle Obama is posing us with 31 questions. And, she suggests we should ask them of ourselves.

Generally, as a psychology professional I am not a fan of

  • the word should or ought for that matter
  • and the dreaded self help formula e.g. list.

Newsflash I think that there are some truly insightful offerings on Obama’s list. Questions I have not come across before that are genuine pause creators and reflection leaping off points.

Here are all 31…..happy weekend. 



  • Describe your childhood home. What are some of the details that stand out the most? What made your home different from your friends’ homes?
  • What did you do as a child when school let out for the summer? What activities did you previously pursue but don’t have time for now? How can you get back to them again?
  • Who was the most influential teacher when you were little? How did this person leave such an impression?
  • Write a letter to your teenage self giving advice and revealing what the future holds.
  • Write a letter to your future self outlining your expectations for the years to come.


  • Where did your ancestors come from and what challenges did they face?
  • What kind of childhood did your parents or grandparents have? How was it different from and similar to your own?
  • Who do you care for in your family? How does that relationship help define you?
  • How do you celebrate the holidays? What traditions do your family hold dear?
  • Describe a specific place that holds important meaning to your family.


  • List three people who contribute to your circle of strength. Next to each person’s name, describe why he or she is so dependable.
  • If you had to choose, who is the most precious person in your life? How did you meet this person and what do you think your future together holds?
  • Who looks up to you? How do you nurture that person’s spark?
  • Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a long time updating him or her on what’s happened in your life since you last saw each other.
  • If you could have a conversation with a loved one who has passed away, what would you ask him or her?

Me, myself and I

  • Where did your name come from and how has it influenced the person you’ve become?
  • How would you describe yourself to someone who does not know you?
  • Have you ever felt subject to a cliché? How did you react?
  • List 10 items of clothing you loved along with when and where you wore them.
  • What is your most prized possession and how did you come to own it?

Health and happiness

  • What happened in your life today? List five things that went well.
  • Describe your perfect day — beginning with breakfast and ending with dinner.
  • Write about the last moment you remember being truly at peace. Where were you? What were you doing? How can you tap into that feeling again?
  • When was your last good cry, and how did you feel afterwards?
  • How do you look after yourself after you’ve had a bad day?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • How has this year been different from last year?
  • “When they go low, we go high.” How do you put this phrase into practice?

Hopes and dreams

  • Describe the world of your dreams. What changes — whether on a local, national or global level — do you wish to see?
  • How do you want to contribute to the world? What is one small step you can take this year towards that contribution?
  • Change happens from the ground up. What is one small thing you can do this week to bring about new change in your life or in the life of someone else?

© Michelle Obama. This is an edited and abridged extract from Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice by Michelle Obama, published on Tuesday (Viking £15.99)

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