The difference between ‘why’ and ‘what’

“”Why?” is the most useless question in the universe. The only question with any meaning is “What?” Asking “Why is this happening?” can only disempower you. Asking “What do I want to make of this?” does exactly the opposite. Here is a great secret: the Why of anything is to produce the What of everything.” — Neale Donald Walsch

One of the favorite questions of every curious child is ‘why?’  When my son was going through the ‘why?’ stage I remember how frustrating it was to come up with answers to some of his questions.  While some answers were easy to explain, really thinking about why things happen is often baffling.  There are times when asking ‘why’ can be helpful.  There are cause/effect relationships.  By understanding how two objects or events are interrelated we can learn and grow.  Once we learn why, we can make predictions and better control our environment.  The problem is, many questions in life do not have a satisfying answer to ‘why.’

When we begin to ask questions like; ‘Why do some people have lives filled with suffering and hardship while others have it easy?’ or ‘Why do some people die so young?’ or ‘Why doesn’t God bring peace to our planet?’ or even ‘Why didn’t I get the dream job I was applying for?’ there are no simple explanations for ‘why?’  These are the big life questions that defy simple answers to ‘why?’  When people get stuck in the ‘why’ questions it becomes disempowering.  It begins to feel like we are the victim of life and are powerless to control everything.  Then the big question becomes, ‘Why even try?’

There is another question that is more powerful.  Instead of focusing on why, instead ask, ‘What do I want to make of this?’  The shift from ‘Why is this happening?’ to ‘What can I do about it?’ creates a different energy in the question.  ‘Why’ is passive, ‘What’ is active.  When we ask what we want to make of a situation, we have a choice.  We have the power to define how we handle every situation.  Asking ‘what’ instead of ‘why’ takes no more effort, but it can create different results.  What will you do with this information?

The Dangers of Joy

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” –Leo Buscaglia

Joy is an emotion that we all say we want more of.  The pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right.  But, what happens when we find the happiness and joy that we say we all want?  If you are like most people, when things are going well, we say that things are ‘too good.’  We wait for the other shoe to drop.  As crazy as it sounds, thanks to the research of Brené Brown, we now know that joy is the most difficult of all emotions for most people to stay with for any length of time.  When things are going well, we forebode the joy.  I remember standing over my son’s crib when he was a baby and as I looked at him in wonder and amazement, feeling the joy well up in my heart, I had a sudden image of him dying.  I was sure that he stopped breathing and began to panic as I didn’t see his chest move.  Of course, he was fine, but in that moment of pure joy, the brakes were applied and it was back to reality.  Whether it is due to Hollywood sensitizing us, or our own innate nature it is difficult for us to stay with joy.  When my son was going to a high school dance, a group met at a friend’s house for pictures.  He was then riding with his friends to the dance.  I couldn’t help but have a moment on the ride home, when I was alone, to think about whether the photos of him laughing and smiling could be his last.  Images of a terrible accident and headlines flashed across my mind.  This should have been a moment of joy, but instead I was worried.

Joy is an emotion that we have fear of.  In many ways it is scarier when life is going well then it is when things are falling apart.  Misery loves company.  It seems you can always find something negative to talk about with other people, and they will commiserate with you.  People try to offer support and help when it is obvious that there is a need.  When things are going well, everyone seems to assume that there is no need for support.  One of the points that Brené Brown makes is that people in recovery need to go to more meetings and be with more people when things are going well, because joy can be a trigger for relapse.

While it seems counterintuitive to think of joy as being a dangerous emotion, in many ways it is.  Joy is pure vulnerability and whenever we feel vulnerable, fear sets in.  Become aware of foreboding joy and remind yourself to enjoy the moment for what it is.  Challenge yourself to feel the pure joy of life. Take some time to soak in the joy.

A time of crucifixion and resurrection- letting go of the old so the new can emerge

“The symbolic language of the crucifixion is the death of the old paradigm; resurrection is a leap into a whole new way of thinking.” –Deepak Chopra
The spring is a special time of year.  After months of dormancy, trees, flowers and wildlife begin to show signs of life.  It is a time of rebirth and renewal.  The celebration of Easter is about crucifixion and resurrection.  It is a time of change.  It is a time of letting go of the old and ushering in the new.  In our lives, we all have aspects of ourselves that we need to let go of.  There are beliefs, habits, and choices that no longer serve us.  What would happen if we could symbolically crucify these aspects?  What would happen if we made a conscious choice to release the beliefs which are holding us back?  This is something that we can all do, but first we have to be aware of the limiting beliefs or choices that we are making.  Once they are identified, visualize them dying.  Let go and release.  After the crucifixion, there was a time of mourning.  There was a deep sense of loss.  After holding on to certain beliefs, engaging in unhealthy habits or making disempowering choices for any length of time, there will be a sense of loss.  There will be uncertainty.  It is unsettling to let go of something without knowing what will happen next.  It is the time between no longer and not yet.  When we are able to embrace that time of change and allow ourselves to be in the unknown, a new way of being will emerge.  It will be a resurrection of our authentic self.  The new way of being will be stronger than the previous version and more fully aligned with who you truly are.  There will be a new way of seeing the world that was previously unknown.  It is a shift in perspective.  It is a new way of being in the world, which is more true to who you are.

This is a special time of the year.  It is a time of transformation.  What beliefs or habits are you willing to crucify so that your authentic self can be resurrected?

How to squeeze some self-care into a busy day

“Honestly, self-care is not fluffy – it’s something we should take seriously.” –Kris Carr

With so much to keep us busy day after day, how much time do we devote to our own self-care?  Carving out time to work on hobbies, spend time in nature or go to the gym seems to fall to the bottom of the priority list.  I was recently introduced to the concept of macro and micro self-care.  Macro self-care is made up of the big things we do for ourselves.  It can be a vacation, going to the gym for an hour a day, taking a day off work, or engaging in a hobby.  These macro activities usually take a bit of time and may involve a significant amount of money and effort.  While the macro self-care activities are extremely beneficial, because of the extended periods of time required to complete them, many people push them off and are not as faithful with them as they would like to be.  Micro self-care activities are small practices that can be woven into the day.  Most take less than a minute to complete and if they are repeated throughout the day, they can have a significant benefit.  A micro activity would be stretching at work, taking 10 mindful breaths, savoring each bite of a meal or expressing gratitude to a friend.

Self-care of our physical body is critical for our wellbeing.  Our bodies are the only vehicle we are given throughout this lifetime.  It always amazes me how many people take better care of their car than they do their body.  We feed our bodies processed junk foods, lead sedentary lives and deprive the body of rest.  We abuse our bodies, using caffeine and other drugs to artificially stimulate the senses, yet we expect our bodies to perform optimally.  There are three critical areas of self-care that our bodies need:  physical movement, rest and nutrition.  Here are some macro and micro ideas for each of these areas.  Start by squeezing in a few micro activities.  It won’t be long before you work up to the macro ones.

Physical movement

Macro: Going to the gym, developing a workout routine, going for a long walk

Micro: Taking breaks to stretch and move every hour, taking the steps instead of the elevator, parking at the far end of the parking lot

Rest

Macro: Getting 8 hours of sleep every night, meditation

Micro: Taking a 15-minute power nap, taking 10 deep breaths, taking a mental break

Nutrition

Macro: Eating a balanced diet, adding more plant based whole foods, cooking at home, avoiding fast food and processed foods.

Micro: prepare food with love, savor each bite, mindfully eat, eat with people, talk and laugh during the meal.

How different would you feel if you committed to taking care of your body with some of these macro and micro self-care activities for the next 30 days?  Give it a try!