Life and Love

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Author: Elle Canada

Life and Love

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Earlier this year, The New York Times published a list of 36 questions written by psychologist Arthur Aron that new couples or acquaintances can ask each other if they want to fast-track their relationship (or break up, depending on what’s revealed). We wanted to create a similar questionnaire but have the focus be on self-discovery, so we turned to two psychologists who specialize in studying the self: Gary Lewandowski, Ph.D., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, and Brent Mattingly, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. They created the questions based on psychological theories and research. The professors recommend that you consider each question carefully and write down your answers to get the most out of the quiz. Are you ready to discover the real you?

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36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

36 questions to get to know yourself better

Earlier this year The New York Times published a list of 36 questions written by psychologist Arthur Aron that new couples or acquaintances can ask each other if they want to fast-track their relationship (or break up, depending on what’s revealed). We wanted to create a similar questionnaire but have the focus be on self-discovery, so we turned to two psychologists who specialize in studying the self: Gary Lewandowski, Ph.D., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, and Brent Mattingly, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. They created the questions based on psychological theories and research. The professors recommend that you consider each question carefully and write down your answers to get the most out of the quiz. Are you ready to discover the real you? READ MORE: How to fall in love with anyone (in 36 questions)

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials

Part 1: Your essentials: Who are you today? READ MORE: Why motherhood finally made me embrace the selfie

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials #1

#1: List five adjectives or traits that describe you. READ MORE: How one woman proposed to herself

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials #2

#2: List five roles that you fulfill. READ MORE: Can a sports fan also be a feminist?

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials #3

#3: List five of your skills and abilities. READ MORE: The ties that bind: Discovering the power of female friendships

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials #4

#4: List five of your posessions that provide insights into who you are as a person. REALITY CHECK You may have to think deeply to answer some of these questions, but everyone should be able to do it,”says Lewandowski. “Even if you can’t answer right on the spot, the questions will enter into your consciousness and you will continue to think about them. If answering them is a breeze, it indicates that you have a pretty good sense of who you are.” READ MORE: How one woman learned to be single

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials #5

#5: List five life experiences that have helped define who you are. THE FINDINGS “Research shows that having a better sense of self brings tangible benefits like increased happiness and life satisfaction, a better mood and lower stress,” says Mattingly. READ MORE: Social media: Why I'm just not that into you

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 1: Your essentials #6

#6: List five attributes that you think your family and closest freinds would say describe you. GO ONE STEP FURTHER Actually reach out to your family and several of your closest friends and ask them to share the five traits that they think best describe you. Then compare and contrast these lists with your own. “People who know themselves well tend to have a list similar to what their friends said,” says Lewandowski. “Sometimes other people can see us more accurately than we see ourselves, and sometimes we define ourselves by how we think other people see us.” READ MORE: Your 5 year horoscope

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity

Part 2: Your authenticity: What do you know about yourself for sure? READ MORE: Love advice from novelist Mhairi McFarlane

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity #7

#7: When you think about who you are, what aspects of your personality are most clear to you? READ MORE: What happens when you marry a bad boy

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity #8

#8: In what ways does the "you" that you present to the world match who you really are? READ MORE: On the road to motherhood: A walk to remember

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity #9

#9: Think of three examples of when you stayed true to yourself despite societal or peer pressure. How can you continue to do this? READ MORE: The "new" wedding etiquette

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity #10

#10: What are three of your most important personal values, and how can standing by these beliefs benefit you in the future? READ MORE: Becoming a surrogate. It's complicated

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity #11

#11: What aspects of your personality stay the same regardless of the situation? REFLECT ON THIS “Everyone has a self-concept based on traits and attributes that make you the person you are,” says Mattingly. “But people vary in how sure they are of this information. Some people are very confident, while others might think who they are as a person varies from day to day. The amount of self-change you see might be indicative of how sure you are of yourself. Personally, some aspects of who I am are very clear to me, but there are times when, even as a 35-year-old man, I’m a little tentative. Even as adults, we are all still trying to figure this out.” READ MORE: Alexa Chung on how she got over a broken heart

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 2: Your authenticity #12

#12: Look at the "Your Essentials" lists that you've created for questions 1 to 6. Do any of these traits conflict with who you think you are? If they do, how can you be more consistent? THE FINDINGS “Research shows that individuals who are authentic—who have a clear sense of who they really are—are less likely to be depressed or anxious and report a higher satisfaction with their lives,” says Mattingly. READ MORE: How not to ruin your wedding photos

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self

Part 3: Your true self: How well do you know what you stand for? READ MORE: Feminism's online renaissance

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self #13

#13: What are your three best qualities? READ MORE: ELLE First: The intervention

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self #14

#14: If you compare yourself to others you know, what are you especially good at? READ MORE: ELLE Canada on Feminism

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self #15

#15: In what ways is your life better than the lives of other people you know? READ MORE: What happens when you marry a bad boy

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self #16

#16: List three things about yourself that make you proud. REFLECT ON THIS “It’s important to beaware of your struggles, but it’s also important to stay positive,” explains Mattingly. “Research shows that negative information has a longer-lasting and greater impact on us than positive information. For example, if we are given a list of 20 pieces of feedback and one is negative and 19 are positive, we tend to ruminate over the one bad one. The questions in this section are meant to remind you that ‘You’re good enough, you’re smart enough and, doggone it, people like you.’ Don’t ever forget what makes you a good person.” READ MORE: Editors' guide to a stylish and sane wedding

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self #17

#17: Describe three of your greatest accomplishments in life. What's your next big goal? THE FINDINGS “It might seem contrary to compare yourself to someone who isn’t doing as well, but people feel better if they think their lives aren’t as bad,” says Mattingly. “For example, if you have an addiction issue and you compare yourself to someone who is having an even harder time, you feel better about your own efforts. In some ways, this is the exact opposite of what happens on Facebook. On Facebook, people don’t always show their most authentic selves. When you look at someone’s ‘idealized’ life, you can be a little bummed. Downward social comparison is the exact opposite—it’s a potential antidote to this in some ways.” READ MORE: How to overcome imposter syndrome

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 3: Your true self

#18: What things do you struggle with? Do you know any one else who shares these struggles? GO ONE STEP FURTHER For the next two weeks, at the end of each day, write down three positive feelings you had that day. Some people call this keeping “smile files” or “joy jars,” and it works. “It makes people more mindful of what they are good at and what they have accomplished,” says Mattingly. READ MORE: How one woman learned to be single

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests

Part 4: Your interests: Are you ready to push yourself a bit? READ MORE: When men love kids but don't want to become dads

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests #19

#19: List three things you enjoy but don't get much opportunity to do. What steps can you take to do these things more often? READ MORE: Novelist Emma Hooper on her first job in a freak show

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests #20

#20: What parts of who you are as a person have fallen by the wayside? What can you do to help bring them back? READ MORE: A crisis of confidence

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Getty

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests #21

#21: In what ways have you put others' needs ahead of your own? How can you restore the balance and start focusing on your own needs more? READ MORE: The rise of on-and-off couples

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests #22

#22: How can you make time in your schedule this weekend for at least one hobby you haven't had time for recently? READ MORE: Long distance love: Can it survive on Skype alone?

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Istock

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests #23

#23: Spend an afternoon looking though old photo albums and reading old journals. In what ways could you benefit from becoming reacquainted with the person you were in the past? REALITY CHECK “Every once in awhile, we let go of things that are part of who we are as a person,” says Lewandowski. “This is especially common for new moms, people in a new relationship or people in a new job. We might really enjoy reading, and then we get too busy and we don’t read that much. It nags at us. We need to give ourselves permission to do the things we enjoy. Get started by trying something you already know you like before you try something new. Focusing on yourself can also be an important way to help other people with their needs. There are studies that show that taking time off to focus on yourself can actually help you get more done and be a better mom or CEO.” READ MORE: Love (and fashion) advice from Simon Doonan

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Getty

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 4: Your interests #24

#24: Think back to the type of person you wanted to be when you graduated from high school. What positive attributes did you have that you don't think you have now? How can you rediscover these today? GO ONE STEP FURTHER Take a mini “me” vacation to clear your head. Book a day off from work or save a Saturday when you don’t commit to anything. “Some people might view this as selfish,” says Mattingly, “but it can be a really beneficial way to push yourself forward.” READ MORE: Relationships and money: Putting a price on dating

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Getty

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life

Part 5: Your work life: How can you get the most out of your job? READ MORE: 19 percent of millenials would bring their parents to a job interview

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life #25

#25: In what ways does your job help you improve as a person? How can you ensure that this will continue in the future? READ MORE: Career advice from @DKNYPRgirl, Aliza Licht

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life #26

#26: What types of new and interesting things do you learn at your job? How have these experiences benefited you? READ MORE: ELLE First: Getting published

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life #27

#27: What new responsibilities that you've taken on at work do you enjoy? In what ways have these made you more effective at your job? READ MORE: A crisis of confidence

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life #28

#28: How could you make the mundane and boring part of your work more interesting and fun? READ MORE: How to overcome imposter syndrome

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life #29

#29: In the past five years, what new skills have you acquired at work? How have these been beneficial? REALITY CHECK “When you’re at a party and you meet someone new, one of the first questions asked is, typically, ‘What do you do for a living?’ People define themselves largely in this way,” says Mattingly. “Research we’ve done with our colleague Kevin McIntyre at Trinity University shows that people who work at jobs that promote self-growth are less likely to leave the company, have lower stress, are less likely to be burned out and are better employees.” READ MORE: ELLE First: Freak show

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 5: Your work life #30

#30: Looking ahead at the next five years, what additional areas of expertise can you develop? THE FINDINGS “We’re working on a research project called ‘Making a boring job better,’” says Lewandowski. “In one of our studies, we had people do data entry while listening to a TED Talk, listening to rippling water or listening to nothing. And while it’s hard to listen to a TED Talk while doing a task that requires concentration, it’s also new and interesting. The people who listened to the TED Talk enjoyed the data entry more. We did a similar test where we asked people to move objects across a room by simply lifting them or by using chopsticks—it was a way to test a new and somewhat interesting and challenging way of doing things. After this task, we had participants complete a cognitive puzzle; the people who had used chopsticks came up with more solutions to the puzzle. The takeaway from this is that whatever mundane task you face in life, be creative and find a way to make it more interesting. There is also anecdotal evidence that shows that if you do something fun before work or make an effort to have a more exciting life outside of work, you can make a boring workday better.” READ MORE: How to deal with office bullies

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future

Part 6: Your future: How can you become an improved version of you? READ MORE: On the road to motherhood: End of days

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future #31

#31: What are three new and interesting activities you could try? Which of them could you start next week? READ MORE: Can your relationship survive a juice cleanse?

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future #32

#32: What are three topics you would like to learn about? Create an action plan for deepening your understanding of at least one. READ MORE: Tinder dos and don'ts you need to know

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future #33

#33: Challenge yourself to improve in three ways this month. What steps can you take toward accomplishing each? READ MORE: How to be happy in 2015

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future #34

#34: Which three places would you like to visit in the future? What could you learn from visiting each place? REFLECT ON THIS “We hope that after answering these questions, you’ll be able to identify some discrepancies in how you see yourself versus who you are,” says Lewandowski. “You may say to yourself ‘I’m not exactly who I want to be, and I want to do better.’ We wanted this last set of questions to create a bit of angst to remind people that the status quo isn’t good enough. You have to be growing and improving or else you stagnate.” READ MORE: ELLE First: Head trip

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future #35

#35: In what ways have you improved as a person over the past five years? How has this helped shape who you are today? THE FINDINGS “There’s plenty of research that suggests there will be discrepancies between how people describe themselves today versus the person they would like to become,” says Mattingly. “But when people are motivated to address those differences, they come to know their true selves. If you’re not mindful of who you want to become, you may end up spinning your wheels. Knowing you have goals, and that you want to reach them, is very motivating.” READ MORE: Tales from an adventuress

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.

Part 6: Your future #36

#36: Think about ways in which you could grow as a person over the next five years. How will this help you reach your full potential? GO ONE STEP FURTHER Make an effort to explore and share your life with others—plan a road trip with a friend or sign up for some volunteer work. “While it’s good to take a quiz like this, it’s never a good idea to become too self-involved,”says Lewandowski. “Studies show that the more selfish people are, the less happy they are. But research also shows that people who are clearer about who they are experience richer relationships. And remember that becoming a better you is a continual process. Keep asking yourself these kinds of ques- tions to keep pushing yourself forward. Share the new you with your friends and family.” READ MORE: How to fall in love with anyone (in 36 questions)

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Gary Lewandowski & Brent Mattingly & Christina Reynolds Source: Created by Danielle Campbell & Imaxtree.com
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Life and Love

36 questions to get to know yourself better - imperfections and all.