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61 Existential Questions for Thought-Provoking Conversations

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Passionate about words and a purveyor of beard balms. At peace when traveling and songwriting. At comfort sipping gin in my favorite leather jacket. Keep up with me on Twitter @TheNealSawyer Read full bio.

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2024
21 min read
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Are you yearning for more from your conversations?

Human interaction needn’t be a dull interlude between aimlessly scrolling through your phone.

Reignite the lost art of conversation and ask more existential questions.

You’ll learn what they are, the best ones to ask, and how to inject more of them into your conversational arsenal.

Let’s get deep.

What are Existential Questions?

The word existential relates to something or someone’s existence.

Existential questions are deep, philosophical questions that concern just that—our very existence.

They’re great conversation starters and can open the door to impassioned discussion. These questions are a great way to get to know someone but also learn new things about the people you think you know.

You may have to dig deep in search of answers and challenge your way of thinking. Who knows what you’ll uncover?

21 Best Existential Questions

Let’s start with my picks of the best existential questions.

These dependable quandaries will spark the deep and meaningful conversations that you crave. 

What’s the meaning of life?

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It’s common for us to ponder— ‘what’s the true meaning of life?’

After all, it’s one of humanity’s biggest and most thought-provoking questions.

So why are we here? Is there a meaning to life at all?

It’s a broad question and like all the best existential questions, it has no definite answer.

Expect conversations to range from scientific, philosophical, and religious. Whatever the direction, this question opens the door to a world of discussion.

What’s your purpose in life?

This is an excellent question to ask a girl on a date. You’ll learn her passions and discover what makes her tick. Assuming you want to date high-value women, these are good things to know.

Want more questions to ask on a date to blow her mind? Level up your dating game with our top questions to ask a girl.

But what about you? Struck with the realization that you’re unsure of your purpose?

Dig deep and think— what makes you come alive? 

While your purpose is personal, you could read what other people say to inspire you on your quest.

Some examples include providing for your family, traveling the world, and spending time with your loved ones.

A key to finding your purpose is to ask yourself, “How do I measure success?” 

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Do you find success in chasing your dreams? Is money your genuine desire? Or does helping other people give you the biggest reward?

Whatever you find, they should eventually help you reach the ultimate purpose— to live a happy life.

Do you have a right to be happy, or should you earn it?

According to a 2020 study, only 14% of American adults say they’re very happy. It’s a startling statistic suggesting that this question is more relevant than ever.

So, are you in control of your happiness or is it something that you can’t influence? Bad things happen in life causing unhappiness, and often they’re completely out of our control.

Could the way you approach life’s adversities determine your happiness? Could happiness be a product of a mindset that has developed through hard work?

If you’re in pursuit of happiness will you ever catch it? Or should you create your happiness through thinking more positively?

One thing is for sure, no one wants to be miserable.  So why not try positivity and conquer your negative thinking?

What are the universal human rights?

Now, you’ve discussed whether happiness is a right. What else should or shouldn’t be a universal human right?

What does every human across the globe deserve?

A look at the United Nations website yields the definitive International human rights law. Adopted in 1948, these laws obligate Governments to act in a certain way and refrain from certain acts.

They implemented this international law for good reason, ensuring fundamental freedoms for many. But where should freedoms end?

Let’s take the example of criminals? Imprisonment is fundamentally a withdrawal of a human’s right to freedom. So what rights does every human truly deserve?

Is happiness just chemicals circulating through our bodies?

According to science,  the hormones Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins flowing through your bloodstream will promote happiness.

What if you’ve spent years of your life chasing happiness when all you need to do is trigger your body to release more of these hormones? For example, exercise and listening to music can increase levels of dopamine

You may have changed drastic aspects of your life because of the ongoing pursuit of happiness. A new job or a new partner, for example.

Have you been doing it wrong all these years? Is the key to happiness genuinely that simple? Or is there a more spiritual side to happiness? After all, there are some things science can’t explain.

Are human ethics learned or natural?

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We can’t delve into psychology without including the nature vs nurture debate. It’s one of the oldest psychological disputes with some of the greatest human minds in history contributing.

On one side, you have nature, also called nativism. This theory suggests that our genetic inheritance influences our psychological traits. Our biological genes determine our physical appearance, so why not our behavior?

But don’t hedge your bets yet.

Empiricism is the other side of the spectrum siding with the nurture side of the debate. Empiricists believe the human mind is a blank slate and our personality results from our environment.

So do humans have an intrinsic sense of right and wrong or are we influenced by genetic inheritance from our parents, peers, and society?

Is there a God?

Has someone created us?

This question is dubbed as the ultimate face-off between science and religion. But science and religion don’t have to be incompatible and are not mutually exclusive.

You’ll most likely have already manifested a standpoint on this, but let’s open your mind to other sides of the debate. 

Creationism is a religious belief that God created the universe. On the other hand, some astronomers point to the big bang theory for the existence of life as we know it. A divine spark that expanded and grew to as large as it’s now.

So 13.7 billion years ago, tiny particles mixed with energy and light came together to form atoms. These atoms eventually group to form stars and galaxies.

But does the big bang theory explain everything?

The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen. Professor Robert Jastrow

Scientists still have no explanation of why these tiny particles and light were there in the first place.

This is just one facet of an enormous question: different religions, philosophies, and sciences have varying opinions.

Debating religion can be a sensitive subject, so make sure you know your audience before diving in at the deep end! 

Where do we go when we die?

There’s no greater unknown in life than death. What happens when we die? Is there an afterlife? Is there heaven and hell? Is there reincarnation? Or do we simply cease to exist?

The unknown causes a barrage of questions, enough to make your head spin.

Ask this question with caution. On a fundamental level, anxiety is the fear of the unknown and there’s plenty undiscovered about what happens to us when we die.

Is One Lifetime Enough?

Is a lifetime enough time to fulfill your wishes? Or are there limitations to the quality of time spent on earth?

For example, you may want to travel and see the world. To do this, you must earn money to afford the plane ticket.

Is the time spent earning the money part of the journey, or is this a period of unfulfillment?

If one lifetime doesn’t fulfill you, why would another life be different? 

One thing is for sure—time is precious!

Is humanity going in the right or wrong direction?

A question that’s bound to open a passionate can of worms.

It’s hard to argue against some of humans’ not so finest achievements. Pollution kills over 100 million people worldwide. Some animals no longer walk the earth, assisted to extinction by human hunters.

These are only a few examples of why humanity is regressing.

But why not be the shining light of positivity in this discussion?

Life expectancy has doubled in the last two centuries and largely down to advances in technology. Many new medical marvels boggle the mind.

Ultimately, this is a question that’ll decide whether someone has a positive or negative outlook.

Where do you stand?

Will the human race go extinct?

Did you know that 99.9% of the species that ever lived are extinct? This stat suggests that our chances aren’t too good. 

There’s the risk of mass extinction from an asteroid, there’s changing ecological conditions and a climate emergency damaging the planet day by day. That’s without mentioning the doomsday device. 

But wait for a second, surely by the time humans are on the brink of extinction, we’ll have our houses in order. We’ll intercept that asteroid, we’ll run on solar power, and we’ll keep our finger off that red button!

What would make the world a better place?

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This can be a positive and inspirational question that may motivate you to contribute to making the world a better place.

Why not agree to make a slight change during your conversation? Generosity, empathy, compassion, and recycling all are ideas to get you started. 

So what does the world need now? According to Burt Bacharach, it’s love—I’ll get my coat.

What is love?

Love can be difficult to describe, and it’s interesting to see how other people characterize this most beautiful phenomenon.

Is love a force of nature that you cannot control or can it be subdued and restrained?

Love drives people to the extreme. Look at the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan for his wife spending $1,062,834,098 in today’s money on this gesture of love. Way to make us feel guilty about those gas station roses we bought last Valentine’s Day. 

Then there’s Jordan Cardella. The 20-year-old man who believed his suffering would reignite him with his lost love. Lovestruck, he organized his friends to shoot him in a cunning plan to win back his girlfriend through pity.

Maybe the flowers weren’t such a bad call after all.

What must two people have in common to connect?

Is it a shared interest such as music or movies? More specifically, is it a certain band or genre of movie that would make date night a lot easier to navigate?

Or is this scratching the surface? 

Psychology suggests an opposing outlook can refresh your mind and challenge your ideals. If opposites attract, where is the connection? 

Humans connect over many things but does this equate to a long-term connection? For example, you may follow the same sports team and while this may ignite an initial connection, it doesn’t mean you’ll have the deepest of bonds.

This is why you should be looking deeper for the connection. Maybe a shared moral compass or a mutual respect builds the strongest connection?

Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

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As a person’s power increases, does their moral perception decrease?

Although the phrase was first coined by Lord Acton in 1887 humanity has suggested the general idea for many years.

More recently, Andy J. Yap set up an experiment while at Columbia University. He said of his findings, “When people feel powerful or feel powerless, it influences their perception of others.”

Or is there another way of looking at this? Do the people who crave power have a corrupt heart in the first instance? Maybe power is freeing, allowing a liberation of the true self.

Is the theory even true? The global pandemic has hit companies hard, which has seen CEOs worldwide cut their own salary to protect staff from being laid off. While some may see this as an obligation it’s far from an act of absolute corruption.

What’s the universal language?

There are about 6,500 languages spoken in the world today. The most spoken languages are English, Mandarin, and Hindi, but are any of these the universal language?.

Not only widely spoken but English-speaking countries are responsible for around 40% of the world’s GNP. Is that enough to say English is the universal language?

Are we looking at this the wrong way? Have you ever sat in a restaurant in a foreign country trying to bridge the language barrier with the waiter? 

You can still communicate without speaking. Everyone understands a smile regardless of their native tongue. What about compassion? Caring for others has no linguistic restriction, and you can communicate using this medium throughout the world.

What do we need most in this world?

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You’ll have most likely mentioned off-hand something that you can’t live without. Can’t live without your phone? Maybe it’s your laptop or a cold beer on a Friday night?

But what do you truly need in life?

It’s a lot less than you think.

Air, water, food, shelter, and self-defense are all you need to survive.

Does this mean everything else is needless? Or do our needs depend on the society in which we inhabit?

A year ago I spent months in the Macedonian mountains without a TV, WiFi, and a telephone. To begin with, this is challenging, but your psyche adjusts according to your surroundings and it can liberate!

So is what you need different from what you crave?

Which harsh truths do you prefer to ignore?

The answer depends on how you interpret the question. You may seek answers through self-awareness, for instance, you may feel that you ignore your calorie intake because it’s too high.

Opting to answer this with self-awareness doesn’t mean that you’re selfish in any way. Quite the opposite. The ability to be self-aware means you can objectively evaluate yourself and eventually improve as a person. 

It’s human nature to conceal something from public view or knowledge that we might find embarrassing. It’s an act of self-preservation.

An alternative avenue to explore is a broader truth that we as a collective are choosing to ignore. Pollution, corruption, conspiracy theories such as the New World Order could make us fearful to the point of brushing them under the carpet.

Then there’s death. As the saying goes—the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Most of us will go about our day to day life ignoring the fact that we’re all destined to die. This is probably the best for our sanity. 

Whether it be funny or downright morbid, there are several harsh truths hidden inside that you ignore.

 Where are the lines between art and not art?

What defines something as a piece of art?

Art is defined as the expression of human creativity and imagination. We appreciate these creations for their beauty and emotional prowess.

Creations such as paintings, music, literature, and dance are widely considered as pieces of art. 

But when does something stop being art?

Everywhere you look there are expressions of human creativity. Look out the window. What do you see? For example, you may see a car.

The car design is an example of human creativity and it’s features show the potential of human imagination. A car is not generally considered as art, so where is the line?

Are we alone in the universe?

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It’s a question that has plagued everyone from the most decorated of scientists to the most spaced-out stoners. Are we alone in the universe?

Scientists have spent lifetimes searching for civilization out of space but have yet (not to our knowledge) struck gold. Is this nailed on proof that we’re alone?

Professor Orsola De Marco of Macquarie University thinks otherwise, “I think that we will discover life outside of Earth in my lifetime.”

The latest research suggests that the Universe is at least 91 billion light-years or 8.6 million billion billion kilometers across. However, this is not a boundary, this is the furthest we’ve been able to see with the technology available.

In the grand scheme of things, the earth is a tiny place. With so much of the universe you can’t help but ponder, are we really alone?

 Can an opinion be wrong?

An opinion is an expression of human feelings, but can you consider a feeling null and void?

Everyone has an opinion, but no two people will agree with one another wholeheartedly on all subjects.

A conversation about politics is the perfect experiment to prove this. Close family and friends will often collide over their different opinions on the matter at hand. 

But who is right and wrong?

Can you consider even the most outlandish of opinions as wrong? While there may be reasonable cause to think their standpoint is ill-informed, how sure are you that they’re wrong?

Further down the rabbit hole, how do you know your information source is right? You may develop opinions based on the news you watch on TV, but who’s saying this is truthful.

10 Funny Existential Questions

Are things getting a little too deep?

We can’t have people thinking you’re the prince of darkness so let’s lighten the load with some humor.

These funny existential questions aren’t too challenging and will open the door to lighter discussion.

  1. Do animals have souls?
  2. Is a hotdog a sandwich?
  3. If I save time, when do I get it back?
  4. How is a product new AND improved?
  5. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  6. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
  7. Can you be in the wrong place at the right time?
  8. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
  9. If the early bird gets the worm, why do good things come to those who wait?
  10. World a monkey hitting the random keys of a typewriter keyboard, for an infinite amount of time, eventually complete the works of William Shakespeare?

10 Stupid Existential Questions

From the funny to the downright stupid. These are the most bizarre existential questions to get you scratching your head in bewilderment.

  1. Is the answer to this question no?
  2. Do crabs think fish are flying?
  3. What if a vampire bit Batman?
  4. If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?
  5. Which letter is silent in the word ‘scent’, the s or c?
  6. How far East can you travel before you’re heading west?
  7. Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?
  8. How do you respond when someone asks if you’re in denial, but you’re not?
  9. Does the study of philosophy ever lead to answers or just more questions?
  10. What would you genetically alter about the human race to improve them as a species?

10 Deep Existential Questions

It’s time to get profound with 10 deep existential questions that’ll have your cog turning overtime.

  1. Do you believe in fate?
  2. If fate exists, do we have free will?
  3. What’s humanity’s biggest mistake?
  4. Is suicide ever justified, if so, when?
  5. Is taking a human life ever justified?
  6. Does suffering improve you as a person?
  7. What existed before the universe was created?
  8. If we rid the world of corruption, would this solve poverty?
  9. Would knowing your date of death affect how you live life?
  10. Can a human fathom the true depths of reality and existence?

5 Existential Questions About Life

Life is quite the journey. Sometimes we’re too busy to take a step back to think about it. These questions about life will open your mind and may even improve your day-to-day outlook. 

  1. Is wisdom or intelligence more useful?
  2. What’s the difference between living and existing?
  3. Is a life focused on avoiding pain a worthwhile life?
  4. What piece of advice would you give to others about life?
  5. What one thing should every human experience at least once in their lives?

5 Existential Questions About Love

Now let’s explore love. Posing these questions will help you deeper understand your emotions and find out how others see the complex thing called love.

  1. Do soulmates exist?
  2. Is it easier to love or be loved?
  3. What makes someone beautiful?
  4. How can you give yourself without losing yourself?
  5. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

How Do You Ask Existential Questions?

You might feel some existential questions are too deep for your liking, not everyone is a deep thinker.

First, allow yourself the time to ponder the questions alone. It’s a helpful process to plan your own ideas and opinions. When considering some of life’s existential questions you may feel that your mind opens. Not only are you becoming a profound thinker, but you’re becoming more capable of understanding yourself on a deeper level.

Once you’ve absorbed this experience, you may feel more comfortable using them in a discussion. It’s important to be open-minded and don’t dismiss other peoples’ opinions.

Feel your relationship is stagnant? Remember—deep connections come from deep conversations.

Thinking existentially is a great opportunity for you to become closer to loved ones. Let’s not forget, asking a loved one questions shows that you’re interested in them and you care to learn about them on a deeper level.

Make sure you’re in a relaxed environment. Existential questions need deep thought so you don’t want to be forcing these questions at the wrong time. 

You could agree to talk deeper or drop a question over dinner and let the conversation flow.

Should You Ask Existential Questions on a Date?

Girl and guy on a date looking at the water sitting down

You definitely should! Be brave and be bold.

Asking questions will show that you’re eager to learn more about your date.

But don’t ask any old questions. It’s a fine line between interest and interrogation. For the ones to avoid, check out our list of 20 Questions A Man Should Never Ask A Woman (And The Reasons Why).

The nature of existential questions is both interesting and thoughtful. Incidentally, two qualities that women find attractive. Asking these questions is a subtle way to showcase that you have these qualities in abundance. 

And on the flip side, you’ll learn about how thoughtful and articulate she is, and whether she has the confidence to express her point of view.

Whether it’s the first date or you’re further along and you think she’s the one, having thought-provoking questions in your armory will help your cause.

Existential Questions Topics

You’ll face many questions a day, most of which you’ll answer without thought.

What makes existential questions unique is the need for deep thought and perspective. They require you to explain and coherently portray your thoughts.

Topics can cover your feelings on life and death, morality, and why the world is the way it is. Mathematics this is not, there are no definite answers.

As your thought process spirals out of control, you may end up with more questions than when you started. Philosophy shows no bounds.


There we have it, a comprehensive list of existential questions. Has your brain survived the journey?

Why not stay updated and follow The Adult Man on Instagram?

Whether you’re new to philosophical thinking or you’re a seasoned pro, we hope you have enjoyed pondering the list.

It’s time to expand your own psyche and explore others.

Wishing you health in body and mind.