You can only have one of the following

You can only have one of the following, but you will have it beyond all others. Which one: Intelligence, Beauty, Nature, Wealth, Compassion?

This is a silly little social experiment I’ve been doing for years. It doesn’t actually mean anything, I just like to ask it to new people when I first meet them. I’ve been fiddling with it for years, until I got it to a just about even five way split in the responses people give.

What’s far more interesting than their actual response is how they interpret the question. Some people think ‘You can only have one of the following’ means they will not have any of the rest, others think it means they can only pick one out of the following of the list. Some thing it means it will be a trait they will have, others think it will be a quality they will find present throughout their life. Some people think ‘have it beyond all others’ means that quality will be stronger than any of the other four qualities, some people think it means they’ll have that trait stronger than any other person. Some people think that by choosing one quality they can use it to attain the rest, and other’s think that without that one quality none of the rest are meaningful.

I’ve tried switching around various concepts and wordings and numbers of concepts over the years, but this one seems to be the most even split among the people I have access to ask. The times I’ve asked people over the internet, it’s always seemed to be pretty biased towards wealth and intelligence far more than in person, so it does matter allot on where you’re asking.

Other concepts I’ve included that weren’t entirely off the mark but didn’t balance have been Power, Love, Fame, Health, Balance, Knowledge, Honour, Skill, Passion, &c. And lots of minute variations on those. Sometimes a term can be completely synonymous, but if it doesn’t sound as simple or isn’t used as often, it can be chosen far far less.

It’s interesting to play around with nonetheless. What would you answer? Why?

Of course, to work right you should’ve answered that before you knew the reasons behind asking the question.



One thought on “You can only have one of the following

  1. I would choose compassion because there is really no use in wealth, beauty, or even intelligence without it. I’m not sure what you mean by nature. Do you mean the trees and animals? Which would be something sorely missed, by the way. Over everything though, I would choose compassion, except for maybe love though I see those really as the same.

    I am saddened to read that answers change over the internet. I think I might try asking people this from now on.

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