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Running From a Bull: Your Values and the 5 Whys

By Health, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I just got back from my annual summer trip to Creede, Colorado where I spent time on a working cattle ranch with my family and friends. As much as I love sitting by the ocean, I love sitting in a rocking chair on a back porch watching my momma and baby cow friends even more. Listening to their different moos, I try to figure out the herd’s social dynamics. Truth is, I have goats because my husband won’t let me have cows.

As I sat on the porch poised to write a blog on the benefits of Infrared heat, my mind kept returning to thoughts of motivation. What motivates me? What really makes me happy? Putting work and yoga aside, I took a relaxing run to mull over the ideas in my head. My run led me down a road through part of the cow herd. The rule of the ranch is to share space and pass by on bike, foot, or vehicle as unobtrusively as possible to keep everyone safe. I worked my way passed the cows, taking special care not to scare a really cute baby and her momma. The momma stepped aside and an extraordinarily large (in every way!) bull was looking right at me. He was not excited to have me in his pasture—I may have interrupted the beginning of a romantic interlude. I found myself wishing for a rodeo clown, cowboy, or pamphlet to tell me what do in a close encounter with an angry bull. I walked away slowly, staying close to the barbed wire fence. When I was far enough away that I thought the bull wouldn’t charge, I sprinted.

Our values come from our identity—who we think we are. We find our values by answering questions: What’s important to me? What really matters in life? To be happy, we must live in accordance with our values, otherwise our body, mind, and spirit fight against us. When we live in alignment with our values, we feel good and can realize our full potential. When we don’t live in alignment with our values, the opposite happens and we don’t feel good on any level.

Hopefully, the goals we set in life correspond to our values. Goals that don’t reflect our values are really challenging to achieve. If you value health and fitness, then setting goals around nutrition and exercise makes sense. A great way to understand your underlying motivation is to ask the 5 Whys.

I was first introduced to the 5 Whys in my master nutrition coaching class. You can apply them to everything from major life milestones to daily habits and rituals. Think of something you want to accomplish, ask why, and then follow up with four more whys every time you answer a question. For example, a client goal I hear a lot is, “I want to lose five pounds before my high school reunion.”

Why? “I want to look good in front of my old friends.”

Why is that important? “To show them that my life has gotten better since high school and to look like I could still be in high school.”

Why does that matter? “In high school, I didn’t feel confident.”

Why didn’t you feel confident? “Because I always felt like I wasn’t smart enough, good looking enough, athletic enough, or funny enough.”

Why does losing five pounds make you feel like a better person? “Because I’ll feel like I’m getting what I want out of life.”

What started as a seemingly simple quest to lose a little weight turned into a lofty mission of “getting what I want out of life.” A simple and fascinating series of links can provide great insight into what lies inside us.

While I was in Creed—detached from cell service, schedules, and my regular responsibilities and expectations of self, I applied the 5 Whys to my own yoga practice. My answers were surprising, unexpected, and revealing (potential material for a future blog!). The 5 Whys can initiate an intriguing journey into our deeper motivation and value system. Try applying this line of questioning to something in your life, maybe a challenge or a roadblock, and just see where it takes you. You may encounter a sweet baby cow and her momma, and you may come face to face with an ornery bull!

In light and love,