The Motivating Power of Why

“Why?” is the best question ever invented.  It can be the most annoying as well.  Have you ever been around a two-year old child?  Or been one yourself?  They are relentless in their pursuit of answers to their why questions.  They question everything.  Why?  Because they are curious and want to learn.  It’s how they learn.

What gets annoying is the double, triple, or even quadruple why.  You know, you give them an answer but it is not good enough, so they ask why again, and again, and again.  I’d give you an example but it annoys me just thinking about it.  You get the picture.

Then as we age we tend to ask why less often.  In fact, I’d wager that the number of why questions we ask over our lifetime has an inverse relationship with our age.  That is, the older we get, the less we ask.  Why?  Because we are so much smarter.  Or we don’t want to give away to others how much we really don’t know.  Or we would rather not know the answer.  Or maybe we just get tired of asking.

You may be asking why right now.  Why am I reading this?  What does this have to do with me having my happiest year?

Here’s the deal, I was asked an intriguing why question last week.  It was interesting to think about, tough to answer, and has provided additional motivation in my personal pursuit of happy.  I know it can help you too.

The question was, “Why is it so important to you to be happy?”

My first thought was, wow, what an odd question.  I replied, “Well it sure beats the alternative.  Why wouldn’t I want to be happy.  Isn’t that what we are all striving for every day?”

Then my questioner asked if I’d ever really thought about it deeply before.  I had not, isn’t it obvious that happy is better than sad?  He then said he was going to help me find my true reason for seeking happiness by asking me why seven times.  I decided to play along since I have used a technique in business called the “5 Whys” which is helpful in getting to the root cause of problems.  I was interested to see how this “7 Whys” thing would work out.

Here are the highlights of the why questions and my answers.

  1. Why is it important to you to be happy? Because it beats being unhappy.
  2. Why is happy better than unhappy? Because I’m a better person and do more good in the world when I’m happy.
  3. Why is it important to you to be a better person and do more good in the world? Because it is our responsibility to do the best we can with our talents to make the world a better place for all to live in.
  4. Why is it important to you to make the world a better place? Because I’m tired of seeing people be unhappy.
  5. Why are you tired of seeing unhappy people? Because I know everyone has the power within themselves to be happy.
  6. Why is it important to you that people be happy? Because happy people are good people who are striving to make the world a better place.
  7. Why is it important to you that the world be a better place? Because it was meant to be a happy place for us all. Collectively as a people we have brought all the unhappiness in the world upon ourselves.  We make ourselves unhappy through our own thoughts, words, and actions.  It doesn’t have to be this way!  We can change it one person at a time, starting with ourselves.

Well that was definitely an interesting exercise and well worth the time.  I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I sure am glad I have now.  It has given me a renewed sense of enthusiasm and urgency to help us all be happier.  Happier people make for a happier world!  Sounds nice:-)

So here’s your challenge for the week.  Ask yourself why seven times starting with the question, “Why do you want to have your happier than happiest year this year?”  Use your first answer as the basis for the second why.  Then continue to use your answer from the previous why to ask the next question.  When you get to your seventh answer, you have arrived at your true reason for wanting to be happy.

Please take some time with this.  It requires some deep thinking and maybe a little soul searching.  It gets harder as you go.  Trust me, it’s well worth the time.  It will provide you with a whole new level of motivation to attain and maintain your happy.

To Your Ongoing Happiness, Scott


One Comment on “The Motivating Power of Why

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