The Power of What If

How to harness the power of your imagination to help make the world a better place

Normally Humanists are very reality based. We know that in order to solve our problems, we need to confront the reality of them. However, in order to solve our problems we need to be creative. We need to consider alternative possibilities. We need to ask ourselves what if things were different.

There is a tremendous amount of power in this simple question. Asking ourselves “What If” allows us to dream fabulous dreams and it is these dreams that give us the motivation to keep reaching for the future.

One of the reasons Humanism is so hard to describe is because at all times, it requires balance. It is never just one thing, like futurism. Humanism actually encourages us to find the balance between realism and futurism.  And it is precisely this balance that Blaise Pascal alluded to when he said:

“A man does not show his greatness by being at one extremity, but rather by touching both at once.” 
Another thing the question “What If” allows us to do, is it allows us to doubt. What if we are wrong? What if there is another reason why things are happening? What if there is another way to solve the problem? A better way perhaps? Without doubt, there can be no progress.

What If” allows us to question the immorality of the present. What if there were no slavery? What if the color of our skin or our gender didn’t matter? What if no one starved to death? These are powerful questions to ask! Because once we start thinking how nice it would be if no one starved to death, we start thinking about how we might accomplish that.

Most importantly “What If” allows us to overcome the inertia that sets in when we realize that the task ahead of us may be too great and that we will probably fail. Because it is only when we ask ourselves “what if” we are wrong? “What if” we could succeed? When we think that question, we realize we have a moral obligation to try.  

What questions do you ask yourself to get and stay motivated and positive? 


  1. I ask those same questions but not as "what ifs". I tend to ask "how can this be possible?"
    Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

  2. I like the "how can I" questions too - for me - the what if questions help me dream - the how can I questions help me develop a tangible strategy. I do both and add in some why questions as well - so that I focus on the real reasons for doing something and not just on the fluff. I love asking questions. Anyway - glad you enjoyed the post! :D

  3. These points are all very good, but the section about doubt is especially important for me. In my life, the issue of doubt has had a profound effect on my reality. In my childhood, doubt and questioning were squelched. Yet the curious, thinking mind could not be held back. Throughout my maturing process, I think doubt played a huge role in who I am today and who I will be in the future.
    You're statement, "Without doubt there can be no progress." Priceless!

    1. Thanks Teresa! Doubt - it's a wonderful think - especially when linked to optimism.


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