#18: Why vs. Why not.
There are no stupid questions, as the saying goes, but I’d say that’s limited to training and learning; whereby in real life, we all witness them daily. Some of the stupidest questions I hear are related to diet and exercise. The question starts with Why and it typically relates to practicing some healthy good habit. Such question masks insecurities of the person asking it or is set to justify their own bad habits. It’s when a smoker asks a friend why is he trying to quit. Or a sedentary individual asking Why do you run.
And it’s a stupid question for a simple reason — because the perspective is wrong. The real question should be Why not. And this is an easy trick that can make a big difference in your life.
When you’re asking a Why-question, you’re trying to find a reason to do something. To qualify it.
With the Why-not question, you’re looking for a reason not to do it. To disqualify.
What I do, is put the bad things into the Why bucket, and good things into the Why not bucket.
Let’s imagine a bad thing — Why should I waste time doom surfing? It’s tough to find a reasonable answer.
An example of a positive habit would be, Why not exercise? (Because I’m lazy isn’t a sensible answer).
The questions I ask myself are Why not go for a run, or Why not do some strength workout, Why not practice yoga. And in the other box are Why watch TV, Why scroll the social media feeds, …; you get the picture.
What’s great about this is that — like many other things in life — it starts within, with you accepting the responsibility and deciding in which bucket does the thing, whatever it is, fall. This means it’s under your control.
Maybe you want to put junk food on the Why-not side, but that can eventually introduce a new Why-not (heart attack). But Why-not-ing things like reading, writing, and exercise won’t hurt you. I’ve never heard of a person regretting that they read too much in their life.
We make a shitload of decisions every day, and we can try to do our best at least for the ones that impact our long-term well-being. Start by thinking whether they are a Why or Why-not decisions. For me, that was a way to stop lying to myself. Who was I fooling anyway.
Today’s question was, Why not write another edition of the .lebenslanges Lernen newsletter. I couldn’t find any good reason not to do it.
Stay Hungry; Stay Foolish.