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Wellness

How To Change Why You Exist In The First Place

If a “why” isn’t able to change us, the question doesn’t really mean anything at all in a world that has the ability to affect a person’s life. If “why” is in the way, the solution is much easier to see: “who” that person is.

When people are asked how they do on a given day, we are often interested in discovering how our own lives, habits or attitudes influence their responses. This is a critical aspect of the “why” question. Often called, “how people do” or “people thinking,” it helps us to better understand those in charge. It also enables us to understand more deeply the forces behind the behaviors that characterize an individual, group or country.

But even if “how people do” is something we’d like to know, we still often find ourselves talking about “who” rather than “why”. I can tell you that before we all got together for Thanksgiving my brother didn’t know how to cook a turkey. We didn’t really ask him for advice or try to ask him for it; we all said, “who” we were going to invite (and, if the family hadn’t been so spread out, we would have asked “who was coming with us, anyway?”).   The “who” question is much easier to answer. It reveals the person’s interests and character. Knowing who my brother is (as well as my mother, my best friend, my children, who we all know as their fathers, who we know as their mothers and friends, etc.) has helped me, as a father, to make better choices about how I raise them by understanding both the nature and the power of what drives them. It has also helped in finding a better relationship with my children and in helping them to feel better about themselves in the wake of abuse.

And, of course, “who” isn’t the only way to answer the “why” question. It’s important, and important for a reason, to know how someone makes choices and why they make them in the first place — because “who’s making those choices?” is a question that gives some insight into how that person’s behavior is affecting us all. That’s what understanding “Who Makes Life Worth Living” is really about, and that should not be lost. We need to have an understanding of why people in power make decisions that benefit us.

Let’s move on to another issue. You can imagine how I feel about that. 

We all have “Why” questions. But our responses, which can be so crucial to building a lasting relationship with someone and helping them better understand themselves and the actions that influence them, often come as part of a much larger, long-term “why” conversation. 

We have a couple of options that can lead us to a deeper understanding of “why”. First, if we wish to get to that understanding, we can consider why we have a particular response to our own “why” questions. Maybe we’d like to know what “why” is so that we can stop responding to people with our own “why” questions. If we’d like to explore why, we’ll need to first understand which “why” questions we have and what “why” we’re looking for. For some, “it’s just my own ‘why’ that made me do X and Y” is more than enough.

But for many of us, a deeper understanding of “why” is not enough. We still ask “why” questions. We want to understand more than just our own reactions to an event, a person or a situation. We want to understand why we do those things that we do, why we can’t just do something else and why we can’t be someone or something we’re not currently. In that sense, we need to go beyond the “why” questions we’re trying to answer.