It's the gateway to creativity, care, change and possibility and has gently shifted my ability to face adversities in life.
We're all curious by nature, it's innate in us. But many of us lose it over time. It vanishes. Partly because of the way our brains map experience and partly because of our conditioning, culture and education.
Adopting a mindful attitude of friendly curiosity means that you’re caring for yourself in a kind, helpful, supportive way by paying attention to your present-moment experiences, whether you like them or not.
Curiosity can also have the effect of encouraging acceptance of what is. A great way to change behaviour that we find problematic is to accept the behaviour and with open curiosity - observe it - to learn what triggers and reasons are behind it.
It helps us to not instantly shut down to difficult experiences and stay open to possibility.
It changes how we perceive a difficult situation transforming it from adversity to advantage.
It puts us in a learning stance.
It strengthens our creativity, our ability to stretch out of our comfort zones and change.
It's a powerful weapon against fear. Because curiosity and fear cannot co-exist together.
It puts us in the drivers seat.
Not convinced yet? Let me share a brief story.
Last week while sitting at my desk, preparing for my next speaking engagement, I took a moment to observe the world around me. On this particular morning, I happened to notice an all too familiar scene: a device distracted mum walking along the sidewalk with her phone in one hand and her little boy's hand in the other (excuse the mum thing, it's my British upbringing).
What pulled at my attention however was the little boy and his persistent, even precocious curiosity. Every couple of steps, he would drop to the ground to notice something fascinating. Something new and different. A strange looking plant. A worm wriggling in the ground. Scurrying ants on the pavement making strange formations.
And there was mum - of course - pulling the kid up to his feet every couple of steps encouraging him to move along. Have you been here? I know I have. There's only so many hours in our day to 'do things' right?
Here's the thing, it's far too easy to let the demands of daily life squeeze the curiosity out of us – we’ve got too much to do, so it’s hard to justify exploring new ideas, new hobbies, new people. And besides, what's interesting about an ant?
But we don't see the possibilities anymore because our brains tell us that we've already seen 'ants' before. We know what they are, and they become ordinary to us. Maybe even a nuisance. They are no longer extraordinary.
And that's partly what KILLS our curiosity, our creativity and ultimately our willingness to take risks, stretch out of our comfort zones and make mistakes.
BOOM. That moment, right there.
As we grow older, and experience more of the world around us, our brains map everything. In fact they make maps of maps. It's how we accumulate information, experience, memory - you name it. As kids we're insanely curious because our brains haven't mapped much yet. As we grow older, experience gets mapped and when we look upon certain things again, the brain convinces us we've already seen them, so they're no longer interesting and we move on.
We start out in life with an insane curiosity and ability to look at the world with a beginner's mind and by the time we reach adulthood experience trumps curiosity and we no longer apply it to our lives.
It seems tragic that so much of our potential as curious humans is lost, especially when there is something we can do about it.
When we stay OPEN, CURIOUS, UNASSUMING, everything in life that may feel boring or dull can become completely NEW and WONDROUS again.
Here's a challenge for you: at some point today, try bringing intentional curiosity to a moment of difficulty; it might be during a meeting, driving in traffic or waiting in line for something. What do you notice?
If you want to learn three unique ways to re-engage your curiosity, come along to my talk Reboot, on November 25th.
I love hearing from you, feel free to share thoughts in the comments box below anytime.