Many years ago, I heard the saying: You have a choice: You can live life studying the roots…or enjoy the fruits. But you can’t do both.”

Of course, it’s never a complete, simple dichotomy. It’s just a pointer to options in daily living. But you might ask, how exactly does this relate to life satisfaction? Here’s a simple take: The fruits of life are where we get value and happiness. It’s the good stuff. We want to enjoy all the fruits that life offers. But yet, why don’t we get more of it?

Many of us get caught up in obsessing on the ‘roots’ of life with no satisfaction. How so? We ask questions that drive us to the ‘roots.’ WHY? WHY? WHY?

We make the mistake of asking ‘WHY’ with relentless pursuit. We do it to ourselves, and we do it to others, constantly exploring the roots. The ‘WHY’ questions can sound like any of the following, just to give you a sense of how the mind works:

  • Why did you hit your sister?
  • Why don’t you eat your veggies?
  • Why do you have to fight with me all the time?
  • Why can’t you just do your homework?
  • Why don’t you listen?
  • Why are you so angry?
  • Why do I keep over-eating?
  • Why don’t I just get it?
  • Why do I keep making the same mistakes?
  • Why do I keep falling for the wrong type?
  • Why can’t I get ahead in life?

Why Questions Virtually Never Lead to Change.

How do I know that this is true? Because everyone asks the WHY questions, and virtually no one finds an answer that leads to real change! When was the last time you asked your children one of the above (or similar) WHY questions, and they responded with an answer that allowed for real change? I doubt that you can find one.

I also doubt that you can point to any real change within your relationships or yourself after asking WHY a hundred times. It just doesn’t work.

Notice, however, that the WHY questions keep the mind active. They give us a way to keep thinking about the problems, and we can beat ourselves up…and we can beat up our loved ones…but nothing really changes with the WHY question.

Why Doesn’t WHY Work often for personal change?

WHY doesn’t work as a behavior change question because the mind is asking a question it rarely can answer correctly. There could be 100 answers (all theories) about WHY something happens, yet none can be proven. It’s like going fishing, but there are thousands of fish…and only one ‘fish’ provides the correct answer. You just don’t ever discover it. It’s not within the realm of possibility.

It is a torturous process, making us feel like we are working toward a solution. But again, it rarely brings a beautiful solution. What can we do instead?

Turn to HOW…and Away from WHY.

‘HOW’ questions are the secret juice to getting it done. It’s the rocket fuel of change. It sets the mind in the direction of solving problems and finding solutions. It has inherent movement attached. HOW brings energy and direction. Here are some examples:

  • How Can I Choose a Diet and Stick to It?
  • How Do I Create a System at Home That Brings Harmony to Parenting?
  • How Do I Get Up Early and Exercise Each Day?
  • How Can I Become a Partner Who Finds Love Everywhere I Turn?
  • How Does My Neighbor Find the Time to Get Fit?
  • How Do I Create Financial Security?
  • How Can I Help My Kids Stop Fighting & Whining?

If I want to change a behavior, it is better to ask how I change that. Now, in doing so, you will notice that action is required. The WHY could allow for endless talking at yourself and others. But no action.

If you get serious with the HOW questions, you are compelled to dig into the actual answers, for which there is good data. In fact, there is excellent information with clear answers to any of the HOW questions you seriously explore.

So, the first step is to walk away from asking WHY. Just give it up.

Then, if you are serious about a fundamental change in some area of your life or your family’s lives, start digging into it with a few very focused HOW questions. Lean into a positive and confident sense that there are ways to move forward, driven by the ‘how to’ focus.

Between your good brain, Google, and the human resources available, you can develop a proven plan that will work. In fact, you will know you’re serious about real change if and when you start obsessing about how to get it done…and abandon the WHY of it all.