Do you have children? Know anyone with children? Were you ever a child? If you said yes to any of these (and if you didn’t you might be telling porky pies), then you might recognise the question – “Why Is The Sky Blue?”
It is one of the top 10 difficult questions that kids ask their parent when they are little. Apparently, the little dears ask a staggering 73 questions a day, many of which their parents struggle to answer. The number one question asked – and probably the most difficult to answer is “Why Do People Die?”, along with the slightly easier, “Why do I have to go to bed?” and “Why can’t I stay up as long as you?”
You see children are curious. Their ‘job’ is to learn about the world, and themselves, and discover the way things work – and their job is also to figure out how they feel about the things they are learning. What meaning do they put on it.
A friend of mine recently told me when he was little he was on a bus, and there was a very small man on the bus. When my friend saw him he immediately (and to the huge embarrassment of his month) asked “Mummy, why is that man so small?”. At which point the bloke turned round, fixed him with a steely eye and said “Because I didn’t eat my greens!”. Great response!
But here’s the thing. My friend wasn’t being rude and there was no judgement in the question. Children are wired to BE curious and that is absolutely fine. In fact, it is something to be cherished. When we want to know the answers to the question WHY it means we are curious, we are learning, we are identifying how the world works and how we feel about it.
It is when we STOP asking why that the problems start.
You see – despite ‘why’ being a very common question in childhood, as adults we tend to drop Why and concentrate on What and How. The top 10 questions typed into Google – depending what research you use are all ‘What’ for 2017 or a mix of What (what is Bitcoin), How To (How to tie a tie) and When (when is Mothers’ Day).
It’s all very practicable and fact or results driven. When did we lose our curiosity to know about things that have no direct benefit to us by knowing – like How Blue is the Sky (one of the top 10 kid questions).
Don’t get me wrong – I think Google is a great resource and can be ‘your friend’ but equally it can get you in all sorts of trouble – try googling – ‘What Is This Lump on my arm’ and see how you feel when you’ve read a few posts!!
Knowledge is great, and Google can bring back all the knowledge you might ever need about most things. What is won’t tell you is Why – why it matters, why it is /isn’t important to you, why you feel the way you do about it. Why is a question that creates self-awareness.
For example, ‘what am I feeling sad about?’ will bring you back the factual answer. I am sad about losing my job. ‘Why am I feeling sad’, will often bring back a whole other layer of self-awareness. I am feeling sad because I lost my job, and I really like the people I work with and I am worried that I will lose touch. Well, now you have the beginnings of something you can work on to change your story about what happened.
There might be all sorts of other answers to that Why question – like – I lost my job because I’m not good enough / because my boss hates me / because the company is losing money and needs to cut costs / because there is something better I am meant to be doing.
Whatever the answers that come back to a ‘why’ based question, they tell you a lot about how you see the world, and yourself. And it is only by increasing self-awareness that you can change your story – you know – the one you tell yourself about what happens to you. Those stories begin in childhood and it is when we stop asking WHY, that those stories become engrained into our psyche and stay there.
Those could be positive or negative stories. They could be stories that were true once but are no longer true. They could be helpful or harmful. If we start asking ourselves ‘why?’ a bit more often then we can regain our natural curiosity about the world. You are never to old to learn!
If you’d like to be part of the ‘Why’ conversation – why not head over to our Find Your Why Facebook page – where every day we are live talking about a big ‘WHY’ question. Today we talked about ‘WHY am I worried about being rejected?’, and recently we have covered ‘WHY can’t I find what I am looking for?’, and ‘WHY do I under value myself?’ and ‘WHY do I feel guilty?’
If any of those sound familiar, and you’d like some inspiration and motivation we’d love to see you there on the Find Your Why Page, where you can tell us your biggest ‘WHY’ question..