We, as humans, are always eager to find answers. We’re inquisitive and endlessly curious. As children we wondered and asked countless questions about things we didn’t understand. Desperate to know what things were and how they worked, we questioned everything. When we got older, the questions certainly didn’t stop—but we’re less satisfied with the simple answers that quenched our thirst in our youth. So now our questions are inherently more complex.
Sticking to the basics, the five fundamental W’s always get us straight to the point: Who? What? Where? When? And, of course: Why? But answering the “whys” of the world has always been a bit more complicated. Looking for clarification, we beg for more: “Why?” we plead. “Why” is a loaded question, in a small, sweet, three-letter package.
As for the other four W’s at hand, they can often be answered more simply, and definitively. Who you are, what you’re passionate about, where you grew up, when you were born. For the most part, these are straightforward answers—answers you’ve likely known most of, if not all of, your life. When we get to why though, that’s where things get a bit more ambiguous.
For instance, how about this question: “Why do you do what you do?” Meant in a broader sense, of course—not why do you get up in the morning and put your left foot down before your right—though, that could lead to some interesting answers as well, I’m sure. To be asked “Why do you do what you do?” necessitates a deeper answer and therein lies a harder question. What drives you, what inspires you, and what motivates you? These are the answers we’re searching for. So, how would you respond?
Prince Ea makes a powerful point, as noted in the video above. Why we do what we do “comes naturally,” once we are able to recognize who and what we truly are, at our core. Understanding why we do what we do comes with deep reflection of self. Awareness of what makes our heart beat, the things we get out of bed in the morning for (left foot before right).
Experiences in our lives also lend influence as to why we do the things we do. If you became a veterinarian, perhaps this was because when you were young you found a baby bird that had broken its wing, and you were able to nurse it back to health. The experience, coupled with the way it made you feel, led you to pursue an avenue that allowed you to nurture and help animals. When you look back to remember why you started, you’ll recall the bird you encountered so long ago.
Some are intrinsically drawn to what they do—it is the essence of their being, and following any other path wouldn’t feel right. As Seane Corn says in the video above: “I can’t imagine another kind of life that didn’t include being of service.” To Seane, following what she has been called to—what has shaped and changed her life—isn’t a job, or career, it’s a way of life.
It’s understood—by Seane and many others—that we cannot all be so fortunate as to follow our hearts all our lives. We have to survive: The bills come, unexpected obstacles side swipe us, and life happens—not always as we plan. But it’s important, still, to recognize that fire within us. While we may not be able to do daily what we wish we could, we still have the ability to live those values regardless of what we “do” for work.
Our feelings, emotions, and the difficult circumstances we face all throughout life shape us into the people that we become. But sometimes, when met with adversity, we don’t always ask the hard questions we should. All too often we yield to our circumstances and hold back, accepting that this is our fate. Kerri Kelly understands all too well “what it is to feel alone … insignificant, and powerless.” Overcoming obstacles, taking the road less traveled, or forging your own path is not an easy feat, but it’s oftentimes the most necessary. As Kerri says in the video above: “Everybody is suffering, I think some more than others. But, we can’t do this alone. If we don’t come together and mobilize and join voices … and vote our values, we can’t make any change. So, I do what I do for that.”
Rather than letting the challenges you encounter push you around, allow them to wake you up—allow them to be your call to action.
Prince Ea is an artist, activist, and founder of Make SMART Cool, an initiative to promote positive social change.
Seane Corn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism, unique self-expression, and inspirational style of teaching.
Kerri Kelly is the founder of CTZNWELL, a movement to mobilize the wellbeing community into a powerful force for change.
Maggie Peikon is a New York native, writer, and sufferer of insatiable wanderlust. An avid endorphin seeker she has a constant need to be moving, seeking adventure in all she does. She is a lover of travel, daydreaming, fitness, thunderstorms, and her dog, Finley. Despite the fact that she has to take medication daily due to a thyroidectomy, Maggie still believes that laughter will always be the best medicine. Follow her musings on Instagram and Twitter.