Thursday, February 6, 2014

Focus On The What, Not The Why

I once took a philosophy exam that contained only one question: "Why?"

After thinking back to what we covered during the semester, I wrote: "Why not?"

I got an "A" for the course.

The more we open ourselves to living consciously and creating our lives on our terms, we let go of any need to know the why of it all.

Growing spiritually requires a lot of internal work, but it is not an investigation into why things are the way they are -- why so-and-so didn't love me, why you keep repeating the same mistakes, why this or that happened or didn't happen.

Focusing on the why is divisive; in fact, it's part of the blame and shame game. The why question really asks who is to blame.

When others ask us why, more often than not it feels like a threat. Our defenses go up. We grow resistant to those asking us why we are the way we are or why we don't do what they want us to do. The moment gets robbed of its joy, and we interrupt our authentic living.

Note in your present conversations how often you ask why. Note how it affects others when asked, and note how you are affected when you are asked. Then work to release these whys.


By focusing on the what of it all. Instead of asking, "Why did this happen?," ask "What just happened?" or "What is going on here?" Instead of asking, "Why did this happen to me?," ask, "What brought me to this place in my life?", or "What's the relationship between the past and what's happening now?" Rather than ask why you don't have a particular something in your life, acknowledge what you don't have, and then do the necessary work to create it.

In the course of a relationship, the whys and hows will pop up when we step away from our awareness. When this happens, simply take note but move on so that you or the other is not left feeling victimized.

The why is really part of someone else's story. Why someone behaves in a way that is uncharacteristic or in a way that you do not understand is his or her story, not yours, and it is not yours to fix. Be aware of your own story, and know that only you can take the necessary steps to change things for yourself.

When we know the what of a situation, we can use this information to heal and move forward in creating and customizing our life.


  1. Thank u Penny...wise words indeed...why not? What? How? these ques have an ability to steer into a more productive path!

    1. Thanks,'s to being more productive! Asking "why" (depending on the situation) can steer us onto paths that invite worry, frustration, or fear. No thanks. Let's keep moving forward! Thank you for commenting.