Many methods are used in both business and in the realm of self-improvement with the objective of, well… improvement. I am always looking for sure ways to move myself onto a new plane, to upgrade our game, to move into a greater league of play. Think of it like if you played baseball, like you were trying to find a method to get called up from the minors.
I am always looking for shortcuts, for easy ways to accomplish goals and all. But in life, the shortcuts, the easy ways don’t exist. Yet I am still duped quite often by these tricks where someone posits the idea of “5-minute abs” or “just this one trick to [insert goal here] guaranteed!” I want to believe that what I am told in these cases, of the guaranteed methods to success exist — at least the methods that don’t involve tons of work and determination. You know: I want the easy way out.
Lately, I’ve found myself adding a small habit to a lot of what I do. To say that this is an easy trick is a lie. In fact, I try to avoid doing this whenever I can. What am I trying to avoid? Asking myself “why?”.
For starters, I know that I am a different creature than many. I am not looking to be right; I look for truth, for facts and honest interpretations of the way the world works. I understand (at least in theory) the difference between fact and truth, that all facts are truth but not all truths are facts. Remembering back at the first interview between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris illustrated this in how they could not get past each other’s understanding of what truth was. (Honestly, the view held here seems to adhere more towards Peterson’s view.)
Getting close to truth tends to get tough, though. It is by no means an easy road, especially when talking about the self, motives, and the inner workings of the mind. Discovering the truth is often akin to fighting a fire-breathing dragon atop an icy peak while naked and using a pool noodle as the only means of attack or defense. The inner mind is a motherfucker for sure.
Over the recent passage of time, asking “why?” has started to smack that pool noodle at the dragon over and over again. It has been forcing me to understand more of the deeper motivations for things both good and bad — such as why am I playing Dr Mario World on my phone when I should be writing. (In all fairness, and this is a cop-out, Dr Mario has always been probably the single most addictive game for me, even though games like Mass Effect and Zelda: Breath of the Wild count as my favorite games of all time.) It has been orienting thoughts closer to trying to achieve understanding rather than accomplishing victory in an argument.
Why do I feel this way about X?
Why did I choose to avoid writing there?
Why am I avoiding writing even though I love it?
Why am I afraid of X?
It is such a powerful tool that is quite simple as well. But the simple is deceiving. Simple doesn’t mean easy. In fact, it is downright hard as hell sometimes. Answers to that question are often nauseatingly hard to face. But I am learning to ask that question anyway, even if I don’t want to face the answer. Maybe next time, maybe after 100 times asking it, the real answer will surface. Maybe I will find a sword in my hand rather than a pool noodle. Maybe there’ll be armor and a shield. Maybe the dragon will show weakness and can be slain.
Asking “why” isn’t easy. Fuck, it sucks to ask it, it sucks that I have chosen to essentially second guess every thought and action I committed to simply because some compulsory urge to seek the truth in myself has taken over. But isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t seeking truth the path we all should be urged to walk?