The Power of Asking Why?

It’s a question you’ve no doubt heard every 5 year old ask over and over again:

Clean your room. “Why?” Because I said so. “Why?” Because I’m the parent. “Why?”

And although by now you hopefully know the reasons to the above 3 questions without asking “Why?”, it’s ironic that something we attribute to young children is a major contributor to why we as adults never really find what we want, or are supposed, to do.

So, I ask you:

Why are you at your current job?
Why are you with the person you’re with?
Why are your hobbies what they are, or why don’t you have hobbies?
Why are you always busy, or why do you have too much time on your hands?

Write a list of things you are unhappy with in your life and write why you are unhappy with them. Then write a list of the positives and do the same. You can’t make the changes you need in your life if you don’t know what they are or why you need them.

A few years back I was purchasing a cell phone. As the customer service rep was inserting the SIM card, I made a comment about an advertisement hanging in the store and he gave me a blank stare. When I motioned towards the wall he said “Oh, that’s been there for years. I don’t even notice it anymore”. He had gotten so used to seeing it that his brain had just shut it out. Not noticing a poster is no big deal, but unfortunately we do this on a much larger scale every day.

Too often we stumble head first into things & they become part of our routine for no reason other than familiarity.

Sometimes we never should’ve been doing them in the first place. Other times they were good for a certain time period but are no longer effective with our current lives. Things are always changing, and those who thrive are those who adapt. Those who take a second to analyze themselves, what they need, what they don’t, dropping the unnecessary and expanding upon what would be beneficial to them.

I boxed for a few years. Because of my work schedule, I continually had to start and stop my training. I learned how to move my body to throw and defend against different punches. “If your opponent throws a jab, do this. If he throws a hook, do that.” No questions asked, I did what they said, and after drilling the same body motions into my head for long enough I’d get better at them. But, life happens, and if I was inactive in the ring for a couple months, I’d come back rusty and have to drill these same exercises until it eventually felt natural again. Then, one day I met a trainer who made it a point to tell me WHY I was moving my body in this exact way, how it was setting me up for further punches, or it was positioning myself to defend better, and it all clicked. I can go into a gym now despite years off and react to most situations in the ring immediately because I’m not just rudimentarily jumping around throwing punches. I know why I am doing exactly what I’m doing.

Now I’m not saying a routine is a bad thing. It can be a very effective way to progress yourself forward and accomplish your goals. The problem with a routine comes not in the structure, but in you becoming stagnant in it and not questioning it’s continued effectiveness and relevance to your current situation. We get so wrapped up in what’s going on around us that we don’t pay attention to ourselves anymore. We begin life doing everything instinctively and naturally, but as we grow pressures around us force us into these patterns because they become easy. Constant thinking takes work, and let’s face it, we’re always looking for ways to simplify our lives, not make them more complicated.

Numerous studies have been done on changes in behavior as we grow older. A great example is the way we breathe.

Take as deep a breath as you can. Your chest probably puffs out, your shoulders go back & you can physically hear yourself take in the breath. This is incorrect, and is a direct result of years of stress on your body. As babies we (correctly) use “diaphragmatic breathing”, which is the act of breathing into the bottom portion of our lungs, thus using the entire lung set. This is the correct way, and we do it because as babies we don’t even think about. We haven’t picked up any bad habits yet. This other, more shallow, way of breathing that most adults (save a few, such as trained singers) do brings less air into the body and is far less effective as only the upper portion of the lungs are utilized.

So how many things in your life are you doing “just because”, and how are they affecting it? If someone asks you why you are living like you are, would you be able to deliver a quick, confident & definite response?

I know you are at your job because it makes money, but why not another job? And if it pays more than you can make at another job then why not go to school to get a better one? If school’s too expensive, why not save for it? Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you think people will like you better if you’re thinner? Why do you want people to like you?

Take 10 minutes, sit down, and ask yourself why you are doing everything you’re doing. Usually the first 4 or 5 responses are defensive and not indicative of how you really feel. It’s amazing where your “Why?”s will lead you once you get to the 6th or 7th one. Keep asking why and you will eventually get to the root of the reasoning for your actions.