“People are very open-minded about new things. As long as they are exactly like the old ones.” – Charles Franklin Kettering, inventor, engineer and GM’s head of research from 1920 to 1947

Years ago, some comedian had a bit about middle-aged closed-mindedness that I can’t remember much about now … except that he illustrated his point with a very dramatic, vivid “thud” noise when describing how most people stop considering new ideas at “a certain age.” “Thud!” (or something like that), he said. “Down comes the wall.”

It’s such a crying shame when you think about how curious we all are as children. “Why?” was the question guaranteed to follow almost everything we heard. If you have a child of a different “certain age,” you know what I mean. Two-year-olds, for instance, seem to want to know the “why” about almost everything. Eight-year-olds, on the other hand, tend to question the “whys” of social norms: “Why do I have to be nice to kids I don’t like?” “Why do I have to go to school?” “Why can’t I (have Facebook/go to Disneyland/stay up till 11 pm) like So-and-So does?” For parents, annoying? Yes.

But put yourself in their shoes just for a minute. “Why?” really isn’t a bad question to ask quite a bit. There are plenty of aspects about life today that deserve a “Why?” So try to channel your inner 8-year-old the next time you find yourself accepting something because “that’s just the way it is,” and ask … “Why?” If the answers come, they might surprise you. If they don’t, expect to be surprised, challenged and even unnerved (in a good way) even more.