When taking a psychology course in college, the instructor gave us a final. He wrote a question, WHY? We all had our blue books (those who are older will remember these) and most of us looked stunned. One student finished in less than five minutes and turned in his blue book. When grades were posted on the wall outside the teacher’s office, he got an “A” on the final. Some of us found the student who got the “A” in such a short time. In those days there were over one hundred students in the class. We asked what was his answer to the question WHY? His response was, “because.”
Most of us wrote pages of what we could remember from class. Some of us got “As,”, some “Bs,” and a few got “Cs.” I don’t know if there were lower grades from other students. As I reflect on that experience fifty years ago and completing the training at the WHY Institute, it now resonates with me. When you know your WHY and what attracts you, you are more engaged and committed to an idea, project, or colleagues that want the same thing..
So, some questions occurred to me for you to consider:
- “What is you Why?”
- “How do you accomplish your Why?”
- “What do you want to accomplish?”
If you haven’t read ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek (2009), see a short book summary at https://learningomnivores.com/what-were-reading/start-with-why/
Eric Barker (2017) wrote this is his book ‘Barking Up the Wrong Tree.’ The old saying is true: “You regret most the things you did not do.” Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University found that people are twice as likely to regret a failure to act. Why? We rationalize our failures, but we can’t rationalize away the stuff we never tried. So simply doing more means greater happiness when we’re older (and cooler stories for the grandkids).
To support this passage, you may want to read a recent post on ‘Why Not’ at https://learningomnivores.com/rules/the-answer-to-why-is-why-not/
James Baldwin once wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Understanding your ‘WHY’ can help discover the reason some things become so important and ‘why’ you are attracted to specific jobs, avocations, and/or people. When in alignment with your ‘why’ it feels right.
Another passage from Eric Barkers book that spoke to me is:
As the WSJ reports, “Those who stayed very involved in meaningful careers and worked the hardest, lived the longest.” Meaningful work means doing something that’s (a) important to you and (b) something you’re good at. Plenty of research shows that if you do those things, you’re uniquely good at (psychologists call them “signature strengths”), they’re some of the biggest happiness-boosting activities of all. A Gallup study reported, “The more hours per day Americans get to use their strengths to do what they do best, the less likely they are to report experiencing worry, stress, anger, sadness, or physical pain.’
When we are barking up the wrong tree our energy, time, and resources may be wasted or have less impact. There may be less of a commitment to common goals which can result in more stress. You can find a book summary for Barking Up the Wrong Tree at https://learningomnivores.com/what-were-reading/barking-wrong-tree/
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.” The current pandemic is forcing us to find ways of living to balance our working to live. I am reminded me of the ‘story of the Five Balls’ found in the Trainer’s Companion (2002). Paraphrasing of the story is below.
We are all juggling five balls: work, family, health, friends, and integrity. The work ball is made out of rubber. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four (family, health, friends, and integrity) are made out of glass. If you drop them, they can get chipped, get cracked, or broken in many pieces and not able to be put back together. The message is don’t drop the four balls made of glass.
A reminder of what Amit Sood (2015) published: Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse, asked people in the last 12 weeks of their lives to share their top regrets. Three of the top five were related to relationships:
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard (and missed my children’s youth and my partner’s companionship).
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
Eric Barker, in his recent post titled The Lazy Way to An Awesome Life: 4 Secrets Backed by Research, provide four suggestions: This is how to be better at adulting and dodge the midlife crisis:
- Meaning > Happiness: To increase your happiness ditch “your” and “happiness.” Focus on “others” and “meaning.”
- Less Amelioration, More Joy: All defense and no offense is not how you win. That’s how you lose slowly.
- Endless Options Are a Trap: Options always seem appealing but closing off options is what leads to happiness. Choosing is meaningful. Remember Dan Gilbert.
- Enjoy The Process: If it’s all about the end result, you’re stuck on the treadmill. Define what you do in a way that helps you enjoy the journey. Changing poopy diapers isn’t joyous, but the process of parenting is.
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My wish for you is to find your WHY, HOW, and WHAT. The answer is: BECAUSE.
Barker, Eric. (2017). Barking Up the Wrong Tree. New York: HarperCollins
Olsen, Walter & Sommers, William. (2002). A Trainer’s Companion. Baytown, TX: AHAProcess, Inc.
Sinek, Simon. (2009). Start with Why. New York: Penguin.
Sood, Amit. (2015). Handbook for Happiness. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic