I ran across this quote in Rupi Kaur’s lovely book of poems, Milk and Honey.

It speaks so much truth in such a small number of words.

As a social scientist trained to explain human behavior, this has been a hard lesson to learn – there comes a point when continuing to investigate why something did or did not happen no longer gets us to where we want to be.

I see it with clients all the time.

On their obsessive quest to understand the unknowable – “Why did I get sick? Why didn’t I get the promotion? Why am I less ‘successful’ than my friends?” – they fail to live rich and meaningful lives where they are.

They get stuck.

Have you ever experienced this?

Usually, it happens after some sort of set-back.

Our brains go immediately into problem-solving mode and it usually begins with why? “Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong?”

The need-to-know (and the self-critical stories and judgments that inevitably follow) becomes an anchor that drags us down.

The next time you face a difficult situation or something stands in your way of moving forward in life, instead of asking “why,” try this:

Ask yourself, “Now what?”

“What can I start doing right now to begin living aligned with who I want to be and what I want to achieve?”

The past is information; it’s not determination. Learn from it, lean into the present, and move on.

As Ms. Kaur so eloquently says, at some point we need to “stop searching for why,” and I would add, start living for now.


  • Dr. Frank Niles

    business psychologist, executive coach, leadership consultant

    Frank Niles is a renowned business psychologist who is fanatically focused on helping people and organizations succeed. He's regularly featured or quoted in the media, having appeared in Inc., Fast Company, CNN, NBC, NPR, and many more media outlets. He speaks worldwide and coaches leaders globally. In his spare time, he climbs mountains.