Curiosity is not a fault or weakness, but a strength, a key ingredient for our well-being. It allows us to savor our daily life, enrich our relationships and even thumb one’s nose at the unpredictable and life’s hassles.
This article offers three ideas on how to (re)activate your curiosity.
Curiosity to flourish and bounce back well.
Children are by nature curious. They observe and question, without judgment, prejudice, or filter. It is how they learn and develop, with a growth mindset. When we grow up, we often lose a part of this healthy curiosity; even though it is a key ingredient to fully flourish and bounce back well when facing daily problems.
It is good to know that human beings have a great capacity for adaptation – scientifically called hedonic adaptation -, it is what allowed our species to survive along our evolution. The flip side of the coin is this tendency that our brain must quickly take what we have for granted. Being curious allows us to counterbalance this tendency.
In addition to help us fight monotony and approach life positively; curiosity allows us to react differently when facing daily adversities, bounce back better when being challenged and to ask ourselves the right questions. Instead of judging, curiosity helps us understand. Instead of considering ourselves victims, it helps us make choices.
Here are three ideas on how to (re)activate your curiosity.
Curiosity to savor your day-to-day life.
Go conquer your day with some curiosity. Look around you as it was new and unknown, as it was the first time you discover your surroundings, should it be the places or people around you every day.
For example, next time you go home, open the door, and observe your home as if it was the first time you were invited there. You will see, it is pleasant to rediscover what is under your nose every day, but that you might often have out of your vision!
You can do the same with your family members. Watch them as if it was the first time you ever saw them. Observe with attention the features of their faces, the way they speak and move. You can even go further by trying out this exercise with one of your beloved ones: look at each other in the eyes during three full minutes, without a word, without looking away. Eyes into eyes. You will see, you will rediscover each other and even experience a strong and emotional connection!
You can also challenge yourself to see people and objects with a renewed curiosity: What is the name of this stranger I see every morning in the coffee shop? How does running water reach me and where does the water come from? What does my boss do outside of work?
To be curious about our environment allows us to better appreciate and savor what is part of our daily life and that we too often take for granted.
Curiosity to enrich your conversations.
Whatever the type of conversation – formal or informal, with a stranger or a friend, at work, during leisure or at home – we might have the tendency to exchange banalities, underline the problems and maybe even gossip. It might also be the case that we are shy to ask questions. Personally, for a long time, I believed that asking questions was intrusive, embarrassing, inappropriate. That beats everything for the coach I have become! Today I know how much a healthy curiosity enriches our conversations and allows the person we are speaking with to feel listened to, heard and seen.
During your next conversation, you might ask different questions: What is your best memory; and why? Who are your role models and what do you admire in them? What is your craziest dream? What are you the proudest of? What do you love about your job? What are you passionate about?
Your discussions will have another flavor. They will give you more positive energy and you will feel even happier. On top of that, this type of exchange will strengthen your relationships with others. Not only will you get to know better the person you are speaking with, but in addition, that person will feel he or she exists!
Curiosity to thumb one’s nose at the unpredictable
Some days not everything goes as planned. A traffic jam, an unreachable friend, a rainy day. Our first reflex is often to complain! And complaining, it is known, does not resolve the problem, but mainly generates negative emotions.
To answer differently to day-to-day adversities, try this surprising but efficient technique. Welcome the bad news in these terms: “Oh! That is interesting!”. It is immediate, our mindset changes. Even if it does not make the problem disappear, it opens our vision and allows us to enter the adversity with more curiosity… and with this huge advantage that you will look for solutions instead of staying in the problem.
It is the same for those days filled with inconveniences and hassles! A quarrel with your spouse, a bad comment from our colleague. We are overwhelmed with negative thoughts and risk projecting onto others all the responsibilities of the event or to blame oneself harshly. Here too, we know it, blame is not constructive and does not resolve anything. Why not stop for a minute to put oneself in a state of curiosity? How?
- By questioning the situation, the reason, the person: Why this quarrel, what is happening here for my spouse, what does he feel? Why this unpleasant comment from my colleague, what is happening in her life right now, why does she react that way?
- By questioning oneself: What is happening inside me? What are my thoughts and my emotions right now? Why do I react like that? What does my reaction say about myself?
By trying to understand instead of blaming and while avoiding looking at any cost for responsibilities, we keep a growth mindset, ideal for the search of solutions.
To be curious about our environment allows us to better savor what is part of our daily life and that we too often take for granted. To be curious also enriches our conversations and strengthen our relationships with others. And finally, to be curious often helps us understand instead of blaming and engages us in the search of solutions.
I tell you, curiosity is clearly a strength; and not a terrible fault…as long as it serves to open our mindset and not to spy on our neighbors!
This week, you might go for the challenge of being the most curious possible, curious about everything, everybody… and all of the time!