With the beginning of a new year, some of us turn our attention to resolutions for the future. Or maybe you’re quite the opposite. Maybe you are thinking, “Forget that! The last two years have been really hard and I’m not gonna expect anything from 2022.” Whichever side of the spectrum you fall, can you be curious?
Curiosity eliminates judgment.
What is it about a goal or resolution that appeals to you? What is it that doesn’t appeal to you? When have you felt like this before?
Curiosity is a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something. As you can imagine, when we are interested in something, we are more motivated and likely to explore it. When we explore, we gain knowledge and information. This makes us feel more competent and boosts our mood and self-esteem, which then leads us to explore and learn more. This is a reinforcing cycle, or positive feedback loop, in which curiosity fuels curiosity.
If you are like me, the saying, “curiosity killed the cat.” comes to mind or Mark Twain’s famous quote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Sidebar: Did you know that some experts aren’t really 100% convinced that Mark Twain actually said that?? It could be Josh Billings, Artemus Ward, Kin Hubbard or maybe even Will Rogers. Who knew?!? Maybe that fact interests you and maybe it doesn’t but curiosity helps us remain vigilant and gain knowledge about our world.
The opposite of curiosity?
Judgement. Judgement is the ability to make sensible guesses about a situation or sensible decisions about what to do. Usually this is based on past circumstances. Things you have experienced, people you have met. It can be useful except when it interferes in our growth.
Think of judging as a little suit of armor we wear to protect ourselves. The older we get and the more experiences we have, the heavier and clunkier that armor becomes. Keeping us from moving, learning or experiences new activities. Our brains needs new activities to stay young!
Like you, I have seen and done a few things. Some of those experiences have gotten me locked in a place of judgement. A place of assuming I know what is coming next based on the past. In can keep us stuck. Set in our ways and unable to even entertain the thought of curiosity.
By continually looking at the things we think to be certain, it keeps us growing. Adventurous.
How can you stay in a state of curiosity this year?
-Speak less, listen more. According to Epictetus, a Greek stoic philosopher, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
-Get comfortable with your uncertainty.
-What information gaps do you have? Fill them up. Read about them, explore all angles.
-Slow down. Schedule time to disconnect from the world. Journal your questions. Focus on your breathing. Restoring your mental energy is vital for curiosity.
-Try new things. When was the last thing you tried something new? Just for yourself. Not kid interests, or for the family. What interests you?
-Figure out how you got to where you are today. Question it. Embrace it.
-Ask ‘WHY?’ and other good questions. Where did this thought come from? What logic did I use to get to this answer? What kind of feeling is attached to this thought? What if you learned to be curious instead of assuming you know other people’s intentions, or thinking that they should be acting differently?
Coming from that place of curiosity makes hitting our goals easier. It gives us the ability to be flexible in goal setting exercises. Old and boring is not for us! We want to stay curious and keep our zeal for life. Staying in that place of curiosity and wonder, while letting go of judgement is one of the biggest steps to great health.
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