Don’t Ask Why, Ask “Why Not?”

handwritten graffiti sign texture

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” – Pablo Picasso

I’ve asked myself that second question a lot. I always like to think about things in the sense of potential. Therefore, it makes sense to my mind to project my thoughts towards making the future better. Unfortunately, that way of thinking seems foreign to many people.

“Why not?” I ask. Then, people seem so sure when they tell me how something is without an explanation for why that thing is. So, then, how dare I ask why not it be a different way! Perhaps, it’s simply my curious nature, or I just like to ask too many questions. But, when I read this Picasso quote, it really made me realize that this is actually a good thing to ask.

The truth is nothing changes unless you suggest an alternative that’s both workable and positive. The problem is people oftentimes don’t understand why a thing is the way it is. But, there’s nothing wrong with presupposing that something could be another way before understanding why something is how it is. This is because human reasoning is being used; that’s an activity that should be encouraged. By stifling this inspired session of reasoning, you could be missing out on a potential new idea or concept that could benefit many people.

We live in a world with all this technology daily increasing our convenience to information. Yet, creative critical thinking and positive reasoning are often being stifled. Instead, we’re being programmed to think and respond in the patterns that make us good consumers and yes-persons.

Pablo Picasso, obviously, was ahead of his time in many ways. For me, this quote sums up his whole way of thinking. I actually think along these  same lines, as well. I really don’t like to ask “why.” People don’t necessarily know the hows and whys of everything.  History is revised again and again to serve different agendas. So, common knowledge is not exactly accurate. There’s plenty to be questioned that’s often assumed to be fact.

Certainly, the facts are all out there to be found, but people are so busy asking why and accepting often incomplete and inaccurate answers. If you ask why not, that actually forces someone to reason through something for themselves. This is an extremely uncomfortable feeling for many people today.

Turns out, though, people tend to rather ask why than why not. This is because people should be taught the opposite. People should have to figure things out for themselves, not simply have things explained to them. Certainly, the person telling “why?” may not intentionally be doing anything wrong. But, that explanation may not really be enough to give anyone a true understanding of what’s being asked.

You have to question every answer you find critically. I’m not saying to just be cynical about everything. Sadly, it can become extremely easy to do that in a world full of so much open dialogue and overflowing cornucopias of information. You simply have to ask why not, instead of just why. Then, you’ll find you must seek out a lot more answers on your own than you ever had to before. You’ll be far better for it, as soon you’ll find a lot better answers for yourself.

~ Amelia <3

Originally published on Motivational Friends at Life Successfully.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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