In reading Patti Digh's Creative Is a Verb, I flagged this passage—not so much because I planned to do the exercise but because it seemed important:
What "how" questions do you have? How can I learn a foreign language, how can I make the perfect soufflé? How can I be more creative? How can I improve my soldering technique? List them. Now turn each one into a "why" question instead.
In last weekend's Heart's Path Discovery Session, I admitted that I wasn't yet sure how it fit into the scheme of things when I added "how?" onto a diagram marked with these words: without, outside, disconnected, compare, busyness, public self. I placed "why?" on the side of the diagram with these concepts: mindfulness, inside, within, connected, fullness, essential self.
Verbally sharing "how" vs. "why" with course participants helped me begin to grasp the concept's role in the map of discovering and living one's heart's true path … but its full meaning still felt elusive.
The "aha" emerged on my morning run.
The beginning of my run was pleasant: full of singing birds, blue skies, budding trees and cheerful greetings amongst others I met enjoying the finally-spring-in-Minnesota weather. As I neared my goal, my focus began to shift: I began anticipating the future (being done with this dang run!) instead of being mindful in the present moment. With intention, I began directing my thoughts toward mindfulness, remembering another time when mindfulness helped energize my run (Share: Mindfulness in Action).
And that's when I sprung on the significance of "how" vs. "why." Eureka!
How I run is simply one foot in front of the other: sometimes on a treadmill and sometimes outside, sometimes with music and sometimes hearing nature's symphony, sometimes with a feeling of lightness and sometimes feeling like a load of lard.
But considering why I run tells a different story. I run because I enjoy challenging myself to reach new goals. I run because I value fitness and want to maintain my figure. I run because of the simplicity of this exercise that depends solely on the effort and energy of my body’s own power.
There is depth in the "why."
There is mindfulness in the "why."
The "why" comes from within me and is the same whether I'm on a treadmill or outside, whether I'm plugged into my iTunes or not, whether I'm running efficiently or feel like I'm lumbering. The "why" lends to the fullness of my life and is part of my essential self. The "why" is running's purpose and meaning for me.
Our "Whys" Are the Roots of Our Purpose & Meaning
In exploring the "how" vs. "why" concept further, I listened to this podcast interview with life coach Lisa Alessi, who describes a person’s "why" as: the motivation for doing what one does; internal direction and focus; the source of greater meaning and purpose. The "how," on the other hand, says Alessi, focuses externally; is a means to an end; is role-based or a talent, skill, expertise or job. Alessi's description of "how" fits with the superficial, public-self side of the diagram I sketched with Heart's Path Explorers on Saturday, while "why" belongs with the mindfulness, fullness and connectedness of the essential (or authentic) self.
Now I fully grasp the exercise Patti Digh puts forth in her book.
What "how" questions do you have? … List them. Now turn each one into a "why" question instead.
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