“Why?” is the single most important and beautiful word in all of human speech. “Why?” is the key to our awareness. “Why?” fills our lives with a sense purpose.
Why is our greatest superpower. It’s the secret that enables us to rewire our brain and shape any reality we can imagine.
But most of us prefer not to ask “why?”. We spend most of our lives avoiding asking this beautiful question, choosing the comfort of the familiar over the discomfort of second-guessing ourselves and our existing beliefs and thought patterns.
Why is so hard to ask why?
To be efficient our brain has to put us on autopilot
Our brain has to be an incredibly efficient tool that needs to make split-second decisions in order for us to survive. It “thinks” thousands of thoughts every day. It makes decisions for us pretty much every second of our lives. To do that our brain has to be autonomous.
Remember the first time you tried to drive using a manual shift?… You thought: how will I ever be able to use the gas paddle, clutch, breaks, switch gears and turn on the blinker while trying to not crash into another car?… Now you’re doing it “without even thinking” (you’re on autopilot!).
The way our brain becomes “good at something” is by repetition. Each time we act or think (and this is really simplifying it) a pulse is fired and our brain forms connections. These connections are the brain’s “action paths” (Neural Pathways) and once a pathway is formed the brain will follow it time and again.
You can think of it just like the process of carving paths in a forest. In the beginning, the movement is difficult and progress is slow but as you tread down the path, time after time, a trail emerges and it becomes much easier and faster to move through the forest.
If we repeat a thought or an action enough times, our brain will become so efficient at that we can “do it without thinking”. At that point, our brain’s neural pathways become its path of least resistance (would you carve a new path in the forest once you already have one?) and, unless challenged, our brain will “choose” to follow our existing thought and action patterns.
The scary part is that our brain also “automates” our thoughts
Our brain doesn’t stop being efficient when it comes to automating movements and actions so we can walk, eat and breathe “without thinking”. It also automates most of our thoughts.
In order to operate, without losing our minds, we need to establish a set of thought patterns, a belief system about the world, other people and ourselves that helps us make decisions in our day to day life without “overthinking” them.
Our brain “thinks for us” before we even realize it… When a person we don’t know enters the room we “make up our minds” about them in a split second.
When we’re asked to do something we immediately decide if it’s easy/hard/impossible by using our thought patterns about ourselves. We don’t think “Hmmm… I know I can do anything if I put my mind to it!”.
We rarely challenge our existing thought patterns. We are on autopilot.
Asking “why?” turns off our autopilot
Asking WHY immediately turns off our autopilot mode. It makes us aware.
Aware of our thoughts > aware of the feelings these thoughts trigger > aware of the actions these feelings fuel.
“Why did I make up my mind about a person when I actually know nothing about them?”
“Why do I think I will never be able to do climb a mountain?”
“Why am I thinking this thought?”
As long as we are on autopilot and don’t ask “Why?” we will stick to our existing thought patterns… And as long as we stick to our existing thought patterns there’s no reason our lives, or the world we live in, will evolve to be anything else other than what we already know.
Before any change in reality there has to come a change in our thought patterns! And asking “why?” is the quickest most effective way to challenge our existing thought patterns.
All we need to do is turn off our autopilot is to ask “Why?” and then have the courage to endure the unease that comes with being aware.
“Why?”, if asked enough times, reveals our greatest superpower: we can rewire our brains!
Remember those neural pathways? Well the most amazing thing about them is that our brain, through a process called neuroplasticity, constantly forms new neural pathways and “prunes” the ones we stop using.
It mean that we control our thought patterns! I’ll repeat that. You can choose to change any thought pattern you have into a thought that actually serves your purpose. And if we practice that new thought or action enough times it will form a new pathway in our brain.
Not only that, the brain will actually erase traces of old thought patterns once we stop using them. It’s called “synaptic pruning” and it enables us to rewire our brains. It’s as simple and that and it is by far the most powerful tool we have to shape our lives and our world.
Our brain create our thoughts > Our thoughts eventually create our results.
We choose our thoughts > which means we have control over the results.
All we need now is a framework to ensure our brain actually thinks the thoughts that serve us… and for that we have goals.
Goals feed our brains with the right coordinates
Asking why is really hard! This is why we can’t really afford to do it all the time. WE HAVE TO BE ON AUTOPILOT. Autopilot makes our lives easier but is also robs us of our awareness. This is why we need goals.
Goals ensure our brain, while it flies on autopilot, is at least, fed by the right coordinates. it ensures we keep our direction.
Remember how we used to carry maps in our cars to navigate before we had GPS and navigation apps? It meant we had to be AWARE! Without awareness we would simply get lost. We would never reach our destination.
Goals direct our brain to think thoughts that serve our purpose. If the vision is our map then our goals are the coordinates that make our brain constantly ask the questions that ensure we are on track to fulfilling our vision.
- What is my current location?
- Where am I going?
- What are the possible routes?
- Which route am I choosing?
- How will I know I reached my destination?
As long as we don’t ask why our brain is on autopilot and we don’t control its destination!