Almost everybody you meet knows WHAT they do. Some know HOW they do it. Very few know WHY they do what they do. Whereas, it is essential to start with the WHY questions before going to WHAT, and HOW.
Asking ‘why’ is asking to know the purpose or the intention behind an action so that successful outcome can be determined. So much emotion have been wrongly devoted, so much energy has been expended in vain, and so much resources have been wrongly invested because we did not ask why we are where we are and why we are doing what we do at a particular time. You need to ask: why am I expending my youth doing this? Why have I adopted this kind of life-style? Why do I always measure my life with other person’s ruler? Why am I living as if I am a photocopy of someone else? Why do I always go late for an occasion? Why do I always run into trouble with my spouse, in-laws, neighbours, boss and colleagues? Why do I keep making the same mistakes and wrong choices over and over again in my relationships and in my life generally? Why do I just sit around doing nothing but whining and complaining?
It is when you sincerely ask yourself these questions that your life will actually make sense. You will then be focused, motivated and guided. You will know when to say ‘No’, when to move on, and when to wait patiently. You will know what is only necessary and what is really compulsory. Then you will know what requires more efforts and attention, and what is just a waste of time. Asking the why question helps you assess your true situation and gives purpose to your efforts. It even gives you confidence and tenacity to express your creativity and to take wise steps in right directions.
Another aspect to note is asking the why question in the right way: if you are asking yourself, it should not be to create self-doubt or instill fear in your mind. It should not be a mental torture or self-persecution. The idea is to seek to know, to explore, and to discover the best options instead of the convenient preferences.
If you are asking someone else the why question, it is important to find the right approach by asking in a way that begets helpful, honest reply, rather than elicit defensive response. Your approach should not be sarcastic, argumentative, aggressive, embarrassing, or disrespectful. It should not be a ruse to make the other person seem stupid, feel awkward, or deemed ignorant. Rather, it should genuinely have a solution in view: it is a quest to do things better or differently, the spirit is to learn and grow.
Apart from asking in the right way, it is also very important to be asking the why question of the right persons. Are you seeking your right answers from the wrong sources? Will the person you are asking be honest enough to tell you the truth? Will you be left more confused than you were before asking? Are you asking the person that knows the answer? This is where your choice of sources should be selective but broad. Sometimes, your answers can be found in books if you read widely, in your environment if you observe keenly, in your mind if you search deeply, or in the words of a wise person if you listen attentively. Above all, you need to know why you are asking ‘why’ in the first place.