The Evolution of Why

evolution of why

In childhood our days riddle themselves with one central question: why? As we age this question only grows in importance, but changes in origin. The simplicity of childhood curiosity becomes a nuisance to us but we should only grow closer to this perpetual wonderment with time.

The Origin

Whether it’s a counterargument to going to bed or an attempt at figuring out bodily functions, kids love nothing more than to ask: why?

If you’ve ever been around young kids, you know this truth and have most likely been annoyed by it at one point or another. When we’re young, these questions of why often have transparent, direct answers. We have to wear seat belts to keep us safe. We eat broccoli because it’s healthy.

These findings sculpt the basis of our future years of life, allowing us to navigate the motions of being human.

The search for meaning alters itself as we age, however. The transition from childhood to young adulthood turns the art of ‘why’ from an act of simple discovery to an act of rebellion.

Teen Rebellion

Pushing the envelope is what teens do best.  While this can be just as irritating to the on-looker as a toddler’s endless questions, it plays an equally important role in development of both the spiritual and logical persuasions.

We take what we’ve learned in childhood: societal norms, ways of behavior, and every lesson in between and morph them to best fit our definition of what is right.

The ‘whys’ become slightly more complex as we begin the search toward finding our deeper purpose in life beyond the simple questions of childhood. We ask ourselves why people work jobs they hate, why do I have to go through the hell that is high school?

Just as the questions grow in complexity and individuality, so do the answers. Sometimes we find what we’re looking for and sometimes the answer is simply unsatisfying.

Learning to accept the misdirection in our search for ‘why’ is crucial to later find exactly what we’re looking for.

Searching for Purpose & Meaning

Now we’ve reached adulthood, the questions now are more complex than ever. Every answer seems both right and wrong in their own ways. Our quest for meaning becomes diluted. Here we must combine every method of asking and answering, while also formulating a new perspective.

Asking the ‘why’ question during these years is arguably the most important. This is the time of our lives when we get caught in cycles that don’t benefit us.

These cycles can range from social circles, career choices, or simple states of mind. We find it easiest to take the path most traveled, the safe route. Working from 9-5 seems more desirable than risking it all and living on the streets if you have to. Being angry, complacent, and sad is the default. Relationships fall under the “good enough” category as we allow the undeserving to come and stay in our lives. We convince ourselves these things are satisfying, but we fail to ask the question that was once so present in our lives: why?

Why do you continue to participate in these cycles that bring you down? What’s the reason behind your ceaseless anger? Why don’t you take the leap to achieve all that you’ve wanted?

The downfall of life is acceptance of action without question. Our desires become tainted by what we’re told we should want,  but if you ask and search deep enough you can find the passion that once occupied your entire being.

Rediscover the habit of questioning all that we do in a non-judgmental, objective way. Then, find that what you’re looking for. Realize the path to achieving this sits right before you.

Never Stop Asking

A fulfilled life is knowing all we need sits right before us, but also having the courage to ask how to get there.

This courage can be found very simply. Just ask, why? The reasons are often simple, we can never know the answers to questions we never ask.

Stop depriving yourself of what you want and need in this life on all levels: spiritual, emotional or financial. The only thing stopping you is the story you’re telling yourself without questioning the reason behind the tale.

Start asking. Start living.

Cover image via 15Five

Also published on Medium.