Why?: The Ultimate Question

woman wonders whyAnyone with a 2 or 3-year-old will probably tell you that the word “why” is their least favorite word. Toddlers ask the important questions, don’t they? Why can’t I drink bath water? Why can’t I hang out with my finger up my nose? The reason these questions can be so annoying is because they really open up a Pandora’s box in terms of answers.

In case you’re wondering, my answers to my kids were “dysentery” and “infection control” with Google definitions and many disgusted faces. However, these questions really make you ask yourself, How in depth am I going to go here? How deep do I want to delve in to the answers? My philosophy has been to go as honest and deep as I can. I want our conversation to make a lasting impression. Even though I offer up this honesty to my kids, how honest are we really with ourselves when we ask ourselves Why?

When things don’t work out for us the way we think they should, do we ask ourselves why? Do we take an objective look at the choices we made and actions we took that have led us to this outcome?

The question of Why? is a tough one. We must be prepared to honestly answer some tough questions and, when we do, we have to be ready to delve deeply. “Why” is such an important question that we frequently don’t ask.

Why am I eating this? 

When I went through my yoga certification, part of our studies included some mindful meditation work with Dr. Tim Crowley, who studied with Jon Kabat-Zinn. He gave us each a raisin and instructed us to hold it in the palm of our hands. Individually, we observed it, smelled it, noticed color differences, wrinkle creases, everything we could. Finally, we closed our eyes and placed our raisins in our mouths, yet we were not allowed to eat. With eyes closed, we sat and observed the flavors and our reactions. After what felt like a very long time (I had about re-hydrated my raisin to be a regular grape with all the drool I was producing), we were allowed to eat our raisins. That was the single most satisfying raisin I’ve eaten in my life. It made me ask the question, Why don’t I do this with all my food?

So often we’re in a rush or thinking about other things when we eat. We are working on checking something off the list, and that something is the essential chore of eating, which we are tasked with completing several times a day. Next time you are eating, slow down and appreciate what you’re doing. Remember that the food you’re about to eat has vitamins and minerals that help to make you healthy. Realize that despite the marvel of science, no two apples will be exactly the same, so enjoy the one you have and what makes it different from the one you will eat tomorrow. Appreciate that unseasoned foods can still leave a pop of flavor in your mouth, letting you enjoy their true taste.

Why am I doing this when I could be playing?

Sure, there are always going to be things that must get done that you may not enjoy doing. Cleaning my house isn’t my favorite, but it is essential for the health and well-being of all who live in the house. However, have you ever found yourself doing other miscellaneous things?

Play is an essential component to living a happy, balanced life. Think about what things truly must be done now and whether they are important to you. For example, I have two young kids. Two days a week, the one who is old enough goes to preschool. Those days, we play. We play and have as much fun as we can because in a couple of years, I’ll be a lonely mom wishing I had boys to play with during the day on a boring Tuesday.

Take a look at what your choices are right now and think of the phrase “This too shall pass.”  Appreciate that whether good or bad, all moments in life will pass. Now, make your decision about what you’re going to do in this moment.

Why am I doing this exercise?

Whether you are doing Pilates or yoga or strength training or kickboxing or Zumba or whatever in the world you do to move your body, think about why you’re there. When you prepare for your exercises, what are you hoping to accomplish? When you choose to do this activity versus that, why?

This makes you really question your goals and when you go to perform your activity, you should be moving in a more mindful way. When I touch base with the idea that, let’s say, I’m going to do a yoga practice to really connect to and strengthen my core, my mind is already preparing my body that there will be lots of communication between my mind and my core. I won’t be flopping through my practice, letting go of my muscular energy, possible giving myself an injury, thinking about what I’m going to be doing after this. Instead, I’ll be thinking about how lifting from my abdominals really helps me transition from this pose to the next.

Ask yourself the question, “Why am I doing this today?” and, before your workout, set an intention based on your answer.

Here is a video of Jon Kabat-Zinn discussing mindfulness.

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What surprising answers to your Why questions have you found? Please share below in the comments.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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