Based on the work of Western philosophers in the existential tradition, The School of Life (video) define an 'existential crisis' as the sum of four must-have important characteristics. These four are:
1) That a given piece of logic thought to be true and sound has its contingent nature revealed, showing that life as we know it is not as set in stone as we once may have believed, and that there are 'far more options below the surface.'
2) 'This revolution is acutely anxiety-inducing.' It's not an existential crisis party without existential terror.
3) Someone under the influence of an existential crisis will feel a new hyper-awareness of death and the nature of mortality.
4) The realisation that we all have crucial life decisions to make in order to live a full and happy life, but are also 'denied the information we need to choose with ultimate wisdom or certainty.'
This maketh the existential crisis. But like The School of Life explains, although this way of being is necessarily anxious, and necessarily human, knowing the limits of your own happiness erase the power this terror holds on you. When you know that there is no perfect decision, no anxiety-free state, you deny some of the strength behind sentimentality's most destructive claims.
In the spirit of this light-hearted approach to dread, take this quiz to find which kind of existential crisis is plaguing your every waking breath. Comment with your results, and know you're not alone little anxious buddy!