The Seven Levels of Why
Why are you doing the thing you’re doing every day?
There are seven levels of “WHY”. If you keep asking yourself, you can get to the bottom of it & find out what REALLY is keeping you going.
I heard about this idea first while reading the article “How to Consistently Act From Your Deepest ‘Why’ and Optimize Your Time” by Benjamin Hardy. In it, he says,
“Think about what it is you want, and ask yourself this simple question:
What about ___________ is important to me?
Just answer the first thing that comes to mind.
Don’t over complicate it.
[…] It’s good to go at least 7-questions deep into this exercise.”
You start asking yourself “WHY?”. The first reason is probably some semi-B.S., superficial reason that’s visible immediately. It’s your initial knee-jerk reaction, which also might be a somewhat canned response.
I’m going to use my personal examples here because I know them the best obviously. But this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.
Why do we do the things we do?
What keeps you going? Why do you keep doing what you’re doing even when it really hurts? What separates the things that hurt but matter from the things that hurt but are bad?
So I went down the seven levels to find out my core reason.
Why did I want to be a millionaire? I asked myself.
Why was being a millionaire important to me?
So I could have financial freedom, of course. Plus all the things “financial freedom” encompassed.
Why was financial freedom important to me?
Because financial freedom would allow me to spend my time doing things that made me happy. It would give me the freedom to help others. So the obvious “freedom” was the answer.
Why was freedom important to me?
Because freedom would allow me to maximize my happiness. It would allow me to make my life a perfect expression of happiness.
Why was happiness important to me?
This is when this questionnaire became a little more difficult. Why did I want happiness? I couldn’t put this one in a box so easily. My first reaction was, “Happiness is important because HAPPINESS is important.” I felt like I’d reached the end of the road. How could I go a level deeper?
But I knew there WERE more levels. “Happiness” was too easy of an answer. It wasn’t deep enough.
So, why was happiness important to me?
I suddenly knew. A phrase I came up with months ago came to mind.
Because I know I cannot FULLY love myself until I’m living a life that makes me happy.
Aha! So there WAS an answer to this. But self-love was, in itself, a pretty good answer. Just like happiness had been. But, like happiness, there had to be a deeper answer.
Why was self-love important to me?
Because I know I deserve to live my best life. Because it’s my purpose.
Six levels down.
& with sudden clarity, the answer to the seventh came so easily. It was an ineffable feeling of destiny, of KNOWING something without doubt. But put into words, it’s something like this.
Why was living my best life important to me?
Because it’s WHO I AM. WHO I CAN BE.
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