Curiosity is a beautiful piece of us to embrace. Curiosity is innate. It is natural. To find it, we must look beyond the patterns of our day. We must be able to allow ourselves to come to the present and experience every moment as if it was to never cross our path again.
Each of us is given only 24 hours a day; therefore, we can become involved in a pattern that pulls us away from our creative self. This pattern can immerse us in the daily tasks and responsibilities that demand our time and attention. As a mental health professional, I have been trained to engage and assist others to engage in this innate trait called curiosity. Several psychologists have defined curiosity as “a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something.” This creates one to be more open, more vulnerable, and bring more satisfaction.
The other day as I was driving down the highway, I began to get anxious of the tasks I hadn’t completed yet. It was as if my mind was a clock, ticking away each second of my 24 hour day. I knew if I continued this train of thought, it would only be disadvantageous in the long run. Recognizing these feelings, I began to let my shoulders relax, took a few deep breaths, and allowed my mind to become curious about what was present around me. I began to count the cars that drove past me. As I did this, I let the thoughts and wonders about each car slowly come into my mind, become curious, and then pass through without judgement. I chose to let my mind become curious for something as simple as the cars on the road, and my thoughts were allowed to roam free from those overwhelming and negative judgments that I was earlier tied up in. The more I agreed with myself to become curious about the present, the more I was able to sense delight in the small, daily pleasures like my own sweet drive on a sunny day, listening to Troye Sivan. Current research has shown that majority of Americans spend less than 20 percent of each day doing what could be characterized as very engaging, enjoyable and meaningful activities. Examples of this could be hanging out with some girlfriends at the new café in town, going on a jog, or reading that new book you’ve been craving to dive into. The other 80 percent of our days become occupied with tasks that can feel tedious, uneventful, and undesirable. This can be from filling up your car with gas, filing your taxes, or staring at your computer screen at work. If we allow our mind to become unengaged, we lose sight of the pleasure from our daily activities. Cultivating and exercising this innate sense of curiosity can bring the most needed happiness and discoveries in our lives.
Curiosity has been found to improve aspects such as health, intelligence, social relationships, happiness, and life meaning. In the next few paragraphs, I hope you are able to reflect on your own narrative and become inquisitive on how you can nurture your inherent trait of curiosity:
1) Open yourself up to what you still don’t know
Beginning to be aware of what is happening around you is a great start! Each of us has our own narrative, our own story. Listen. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen more. Learn more. Begin to build more knowledge and understanding in different areas of life you are passionate about, whether that is diversity, business, advocacy, public policy, etc. I love how Psychology Today describes it: go to people, not google .
2) Engage yourself in those feelings of the unknown
Have you ever had that feeling of walking into your surprise birthday party, having your dinner paid for by a stranger, or even receiving a random high five from your boss who you knew wasn’t having the best day? What did you feel after? Maybe a little bit of joy? Many times, we can discover this feeling of pleasure and true happiness in the surprises that jump out at us from our daily patterns. Focus on both the puzzles and the mysteries.
3) Explore what you are passionate about
What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy that breaks you out of your daily patterns of life? Explore what fascinates you whether that be nature, people, architecture, food…Curiosity is the root to discoveries.
4) Ask questions
Who, what, when, where, and why (these will be your best friends). Mike Parker, CEO of Dow Chemical says it like this:
“A lot of bad leadership comes from an inability or unwillingness to ask questions. I have watched talented people—people with much higher IQs than mine—who have failed as leaders. They can talk brilliantly, with a great breadth of knowledge, but they’re not very good at asking questions. So while they know a lot at a high level, they don’t know what’s going on way down in the system. Sometimes they are afraid of asking questions, but what they don’t realize is that the dumbest questions can be very powerful. They can unlock a conversation.”
We are born curious and we have the potential to retrain that curiosity. Allow yourself to be fully present in every moment you get to experience. Curiosity will always be yours to keep, yours to hold, and yours to create.
Photos by Andrea David