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Archive for July, 2010

A deceptively simple game for one or more players (depending on how many friends you want to lose today).

Rules:

  • Alternate questions and answers.
  • Every question must be answered.
  • ‘I don’t know’ is never an acceptable answer, unless followed by ‘I’ll go look it up’ or similar.
  • ‘I need to think about that’ is only OK, if you do think about it and come back.
  • The only question permitted is ‘why?’.
  • The game NEVER ends.

Apparently kids are great at this game, but I propose using for some serious introspection.

Answers like ‘I like making people happy’ aren’t the end of the game, but the beginning. By prompting you to look hard at yourself and not only the motivations behind your actions but the motivations behind the motivations, you can begin to know yourself. Maybe you like making people happy because you want them to acknowledge you, or because you want them to do what you ask them, rather than because it makes you feel like a good person. If do you find a truly altruistic answer, then good for you; have a biscuit and try a different line of enquiry.

It isn’t an easy game, nor a short one, but it can bring huge rewards – once you de-construct yourself by constant, directed questioning*, you have to face and accept all the parts of yourself you don’t like or don’t understand before you can start to put yourself back together again. Once you’ve faced yourself, you can begin to change and grow.

That is your prize for playing.

*Undirected questioning – ‘why did I do that?’ or ‘what would have happened if I said…?’ – leads to self-doubt and guilt, which is the opposite of the Why? game’s intended outcome.

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