My dad once took a philosophy course in college that required hours upon hours of studying because, well, that was what was expected if you wanted to earn a “good grade.” He did just that to ensure he would ace the final. He gets to class, ready with pen and paper. The professor hands out the test and says “You may now flip over the exam and begin.” All papers were flipped over and eyes began wandering in confusion. There was one singular word centered right at the top… “Why?” Not a single question reflecting what was learned from the textbook was on that sheet of paper. It simply just asked the question “Why?” Panic filled the room in an instant. My dad recalls that he sat there for a majority of the time with nothing but his name on the paper as his classmates wrote pages. In the last 5 minutes, my dad had given up and wrote “Why not?” He turned it in, embarrassed, because he was certain he had just failed. He received a perfect score while the others didn’t.
My dad told me this story and ever since, I think about it in everything I do. There have been, and still are, several moments where I tend to question myself or overthink. When making a decision, I feel as if I need to have a well thought out reason for why I’m doing what I’m doing. If not, then I feel like I’m either making the wrong decision or wasting my time. I wanted to feel like I was always on the right track.
However, you don’t always need to have a reason when asked “Why?” Rather than thinking about the why, ask yourself “Why not?” We tend to question ourselves to the extent that we miss out on some of the best opportunities life has to offer. Sometimes the decisions that are spontaneous and open-ended are the ones that end up being our best decisions.