Remember when you were a little kid and had a thousand questions? Boredom was out of the question! Your mind jumped from one exploration to the next, hands and feet scrambling behind you. Your insatiable curiosity about the world enraptured your every moment.
Think of any great scientist, innovator or genius. The common trait found in all of them – which led to their discoveries – was curiosity!
What if you engaged curiosity as a way of navigating your BIG Shift into your BIG Leap?
One of the problems encountered on the transformation adventure is trying to make sense of what has occurred through your mind. And being too much in your head can stop the flow of your creative expression. Curiosity is one way to use your intellect that actually frees, instead of constricting your creativity.
Engaging curiosity means you are open to investigation of yourself and the world. You open to your natural inquisitiveness, which frees you from your preconceived beliefs. When you begin to investigate and ask why, a world of wonder opens up.
According to studies on curiosity, there are also lots of benefits:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein
Did you know that the human mind is hardwired to respond positively to curiosity? Here are some ways you can add it to the mix:
1. What If? This is one of my favorite self coaching devices. Step back from the surface view of your BIG Shift and curiously question everything about it. “What if this was the only way I could have made this move?” “What if this ‘bad thing' is really serving me?” Curiosity melts resistance.
2. Find the unfamiliar in the familiar. One way to become more curious is to intentionally circumvent expectations, labels and assumptions about “seemingly” familiar activities and events. It’s easy to prejudge an activity because we think we have seen it before or avoid an activity entirely because we expect it to be boring or unpleasant. This same little experiment can be applied to any activity in your life. Consider the list of low-interest, but necessary, activities in your typical day. Choose one of these ho-hum activities and, as you do it, search for any three novel or unexpected things about it. The goal of discovering the unfamiliar in the familiar is to suspend judgments and attend to how things are, not how you expect them to be.
3. Do some free flow writing. Let your mind run loose! Start writing down your questions. Sometimes the more curious you become, the more the questions can freely flow out of your head onto paper. When you get your mind out of reactive mode, and get curious, your mind reacts more positively and can intuit more out of the box solutions.
4. Engage Your Subconscious In A Conversation. You don’t like being judged, and neither does your subconscious. However, most of us do like it when you ask questions about us and engage us in conversation. This is exactly what you do to your subconscious when you get curious, you engage it in a conversation. Go ahead, have a chat!
According to Mihaly Cskikszentmihalyi, psychology professor and the author of Flow, there is a direct relationship between your attention and your interest in the world: Nothing is interesting to us unless we focus our attention on it. Crystals are not interesting until we begin collecting them, people in the supermarket are not interesting until we become curious about their lives and where they are going, and cars are not interesting until we need to buy a new one. According to Csikszentmihalyi, we can develop our curiosity by making a conscious effort to direct our attention to something in particular in our environment.
So, I leave you with this Curiosity Challenge. Test Csikszentmihalyi’s theory in your own life today. During those times when you are struggling, tired or unstimulated, focus your attention on something that ordinarily might not engage your interest. Notice how much effort you need to expend to focus your attention. Is it worth it? Is there a trade off between being frustrated and being interested? I'd love to hear what you discover, post below.