The 5 Whys

90% of our lives is dictated by habits and patterns and default settings. These autopilots, hidden in plain sight, determine our lives.

Every person is a priceless vehicle with a value system operating under the hood. This value system is really the driving force behind the decisions people make.

For example, eating cheeseburgers is not ultimately self-loving. Cheeseburger consumption destroys the planet, and our bodies. It is pleasurable, however. 

We all know salads are healthier than cheeseburgers, yet sometimes we choose cheeseburgers because in our value system, the quality of pleasure is more important than the value of health.

The fun thing about being life mechanics equipped to modify and improve our own lives, is we can change our values, or at least consciously re-order them. This is where awareness comes in.

Awareness is powerful, and like all powerful things it is simple. Try this:


Take a deep breath in.


Let it out.


Bring your awareness completely to your posture. You’ll notice when you do that, your posture improves. 

It is the same with anything we put our awareness on - our breath, our communication, our diet, our careers. We don’t need to focus on improving them. We begin by shining the light of our awareness on them.

A useful tool for shining the light of awareness onto something is to enact what the Japanese call “The 5 Whys.” It is a system of discerning the ultimate value at play behind a choice.

Here’s an example of The 5 Whys at work:


“I want to go to college."

1. WHY?


“Because I need to get a degree.”

2. WHY?


“So I can get a good job.”

3. WHY?


“So I can make money.”

4. WHY?


“Because I want to live securely and comfortably.”

5. WHY?


“Because then I’ll be happy.”


Enact the 5 whys on something you want to achieve or become. You may be surprised at the value or values that come forward, that have been driving your thought process.