Why? vs. Why Not?

By Ethan Maurice | September 3, 2015

When you are presented with an opportunity is your initial reaction to ask yourself "Why" or "Why not?" This is a big deal because "Why?" is a limiting question and "Why not?" is a liberating question.

Let me explain.

When we ask ourselves "Why?" we need a good reason to do it. If we don't come up with one, our default response is to NOT DO IT. When we ask ourselves "Why not?" we need a good reason not to do it. If we don't come up with one, our default response is to DO IT.

Read that again, and let it really sink in...

Throughout the course of our lives, whether we ask ourselves "Why?" or "Why not?" makes a tremendous difference. One is not more reckless than the other, both cases still require the same consideration, but "Why not?" will lead us to a plethora more of opportunities and experiences.

This is especially important in trying new things and expanding your comfort zone. When we have little experience with something, we have less information to take into consideration and thus, will rely on our default response more often resulting from "Why?" (I shouldn't) or "Why not?" (I should).

I used to ask myself "Why?" before every choice I made. In high school, my baseball buddies once asked if I wanted to go to the homecoming dance in a group with them. I considered the "why" I should go for a couple seconds. I didn't have much experience with girls and felt a bit nervous, nothing else had time to go through my head. I didn't have an answer to why I should go, so I replied, "Nah, I think I'm just gonna hang at my place tonight." If I had asked myself, "Why not?" I wouldn't have come up with any good reasoning either in those two seconds of consideration, and went to the dance.

What did I do that night instead? I played video games... While I wondered what was going on at that dance.

Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to have many experiences and grow as a person, I had to change my internal dialog from "Why?" to "Why not?" Now when presented with an opportunity I ask myself, "Why not?" It's led me into a variety of incredible experiences ranging from spending a spring break in Mexico to riding a bicycle across the United States to taking a full on human cadaver dissection lab as an undergraduate in college.

Life can take us for quite a ride when we ask ourselves "Why not?" instead of "Why?" Don't deny yourself the adventure, experience, and confidence that results from this switch of internal dialog.

Make a note to yourself right now to take the time and make an active effort to switch your internal dialog—why not?




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