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8 Reasons Why Asking Yourself ‘Why’ Is Important To Life

8 Reasons Why Asking Yourself ‘Why’ Is Important To Life

As a child you are encouraged to ask questions, to be curious about life, and to find out what you love and do that. However, as you grow into an adult your curiosity diminishes, you stop asking questions, stop challenging, and become more concerned with fitting in than questioning certain things in life. As you grow and develop, your fears, doubts and worries grow too, the questions stop, and your childhood individuality and uniqueness disappears.

Life is a journey—an experience like no other—and with that change and growth will happen, but only if you embrace it. Asking yourself ‘why’ is part of that journey, as it helps you to understand yourself, those around you, and society’s expectations. It’s time to step forward, challenge and question. Here are a few reasons why asking why is so important to your life.

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1. It is essential to your happiness

Have you asked yourself recently if you are doing the things you love in your life? Have you stopped for a moment and checked that where you are is where you want to be? If not, then you are probably going through the same routine every day. You’ve been doing stuff on automatic pilot, not even stopping to wonder whether it even makes you happy. It’s so important to check in with yourself regularly, to check if you are on the same page with your loved ones and ensure you are going in the right direction. It might be a good time to make some changes, take a new direction, or talk to someone who matters to you just to see if they are happy too. What’s most important is that you are following your own bliss. So ask yourself regularly, “Am I happy with this?” and then see where it takes you.

2. It is important for your growth

Growth is important, it’s that part of you that is ever-changing, it’s mindful of your actions and it teaches you about yourself, your motivations and purpose in life. When you question things, asking why regularly, it can move you in a new direction and get you thinking about your core values and beliefs. It can make you reassess what you’ve been taught since childhood, get you to think for yourself and help you work out what is important to you. Asking questions of others can also spark interesting conversations and help others to grow too. It’s perfect for opening new doors to opportunities and provides a new and conscious existence to your life, making it even more beautiful than before.

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3. It’s required for a healthy mind

If you’re not asking yourself why on a regular basis, then you’re merely existing instead of living. Imagine if you habitually drank a lot of alcohol or overate and you asked yourself why you did those things, what do you think the answer would be? Sometimes, the question why is avoided at all costs because you already know the answer. Perhaps you have some damaging habits because of your past, or some kind of fear or pain that you hold deep within. When you ask why, you are looking at your life, your habits and learning about yourself. To question yourself will provide you with a better outlook because you will know why you do these things and it’s down to you to carry on or change. Your mind is essential for your well-being, so learn to ask why more and challenge yourself daily; your mental health will thank you later on in life.

4. It inspires others to ask why

Fear stops a lot of people from asking why, mainly because they don’t want to know the answer, are too afraid of the answer, or feel guilty if they know the answer and they don’t do anything about it. If you ask why more and openly challenge things, it will inspire others to do the same. If they see that you are growing and progressing through life because of your curiosity and fearlessness, they will want to have the same kind of life. Remember, you are a teacher, as I am a teacher to you, so be the inspiration for others to get what they want out of life too.

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5. It encourages good, honest relationships

Communication is important to any relationship, especially personal ones; however, fear can stop you asking vital questions, which can hinder rather than develop relationships. Asking why of your partner will open up conversation and steer you to the truth of any problem or situation that occurs. It’s good to be honest, and asking why will bring up any doubts or worries. It is then up to you to decide what can be done once the information has been shared. If you want an honest relationship, learn to ask questions rather than jumping to conclusions.

6. It will keep you young

Asking questions, especially why, will keep the mind active as you grow older. Being aware of what’s going on around you, around the world and so on, will keep you in tune with younger members of society, which can keep you feeling just as young as them. It shows that you are interested and interesting to be around, plus as you grow older you tend to think you know it all, so to keep that childlike quality ask why more and you’ll learn something new every day.

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7. It will make other people happy

When you show genuine interest in another human being you make them feel important and worth something. Asking why will encourage good intellectual conversation and will lift the other person. Knowing that someone else is interested in what you have to say is a wonderful feeling; it breeds enthusiasm and motivation. Plus if you are the one asking why, you’ll get to find out a lot more about someone else and feel good about it in the process.

8. It could make a difference to the world

If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. When something changes, in this instance by asking the question why, it can make all the difference to someone else and in turn a difference in the world. When you ask why, you are asking because it matters and the answer will shape what you do next. Asking why about important topics such as famine, war, poverty, animal cruelty, human suffering and environmental issues will highlight them more, bringing awareness and change.

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The question why so important because life can change in an instant. Are you willing to step up, be courageous and ask why?

Featured photo credit: Flickr/ Paul McRae (Delta Niner) via flickr.com

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Paula Lawes

Paula loves people and connecting. She writes about communication and relationships tips on Lifehack.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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