Why Being Curious Can Change Your Life
In case you haven’t figured it out, each of us knows far less than what we don’t know. Maybe there’s too much to know – – I don’t know. Somewhere between being a child and now, we let go of our natural curiosity. We stopped asking questions.
We’ve learned to cope with the bit of knowledge we do have by some mental slight of hand. We essentially ignore what we don’t know and do life with exclusive reference to what we do know. The problem comes when we forget that our rules, judgments, and opinions are based on what we know, which means they’re potentially on pretty shaky ground.
As an example, take a look at the picture below. Can you describe it? You’d probably say they are books. Duh. And they are on shelves, and those shelves are quite full. From that, at least subconsciously, you might presume to think the library in which these books are located is extensive and full of much knowledge. Now, scroll down and look at the picture at the bottom of this page and then come back here.
You were probably surprised to find that in reality there are few books on the shelf. And that’s exactly how we’ve learned to do life. We not only don’t know what we don’t know, we readily accept that what we do know is enough to make good decisions.
What if we took a step back and acknowledged that we have neither all nor even good enough information? Could it make a difference in how life unfolds each day? What if we invited curiosity into our life and gave it priority over judgment, self-doubt, shame, embarrassment, and criticism (of self or others)? What if we asked, what’s in the part of the picture I cannot see?
Consider these examples:
- There’s an elderly person in the line ahead of you. You’re late, and you’ve already spent too much time in line to check out. Now, this old fart is fumbling around trying to figure out the credit card machine. What if you became curious what it’s like to be older and realizing you’re losing your mental sharpness ?
- There’s a job opening you’d love to apply for, but you already know there’s no way you could even get an interview, let alone a job offer. So you don’t apply. What if you became curious and approached the employer, admitting your shortcomings, and asking what it would take to be the ideal candidate?
- There’s a hot topic in the news, one that you’re interested in but haven’t formed an opinion. You read an article by a known author with a website you most often get your news from. What if you became curious enough to check out the insights on a website that usually leans opposite of your norm?
Clearly, curiosity opens us to insights we would normally miss in going through life on auto-pilot. When we stop running scripts in our heads based on incomplete information, we give ourselves the opportunity to make better decisions, see previously unnoticed opportunities, and make new connections we never thought possible. All of which leads to a more fulfilling and adventurous life.
Reclaim Your Curiosity
I’d always considered myself a fairly curious person. In terms of the bookshelf, I probably had a view of the aisle the shelf was located on. But I hadn’t zoomed out far enough to get the full view. I just finished Living Curiously by Becki Saltzman, and got jolted into a whole new level of awareness. Always the questioner, her insights made me realize there were many more questions I wasn’t asking.
If you’re curious to learn more about how being more curious can radically alter your life, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Becki’s book. Maybe you’ll get the same little curious and innocent smile on your face that I now have.
Curiosity Aftab Uzzaman