A Curious Life

Discover how curiosity is key to a life that is rich and rewarding.

“I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

What Albert Einstein gave the world extends far beyond his theory of relativity – he modeled a state of being. This week Einstein re-entered our lives.

Scientists recently announced their first detection of gravitational waves, the result of two Black Holes merging together.

The discovery will allow us to see the universe in a completely different way because what was once invisible is visible.

This is big. The discovery will allow us to get an understanding of our beginnings, and know about some fundamental forces of nature – gravity in particular.

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is 100 years old and now has been proven. Wouldn’t he be delighted to see this happen?

When I think of people who have led a curious life, Albert Einstein would be at the top of the list. Though I struggle to understand the concepts that allow us to know so much about the universe, I am fascinated by this new discovery.

And grateful to those before and around me who keep asking questions. Those who are energized by wanting to know more.

I have found in my life that having the motivation of curiosity opens doors that I never could have imagine. And it keeps me on the right track. Whenever I am driven by fears, life becomes confusing and messy.

But when I pay attention to what intrigues me, what makes me want to know more, then I am feel much more connected. I like to think of it as pulling versus pushing.  What pulls me is what makes me stand up and take notice – it is where I want to direct my attention.  Pushing on the other hand is when I am compelled to go in a direction because it is something I “should” do or what I might consider to be my best interests.

In terms of work, my curiosity will take me to those places where I will do my best work.  I will be pulled by certain kinds of tasks. I will want to learn more.

When I am pushing myself, there is often a grit-my-teeth approach. If I suck this up now, then tomorrow I will reap the rewards. 

You can think of curiosity, then, as a guide. If you pay attention to what grasps your attention, there are a lot of clues about your work and your life. From noticing you will find out about your strengths, passions, motivations and everything else that you need to lead an inspired life.

The challenge is immense. According to an American study, people spend less than 20% of their time doing activities that they enjoyed or were meaningful to them.  In a culture that does value engagement, you can expect some resistance to exploring what makes you curious, internally and externally.

Why is curiosity so important? And how does it improve your life?

You are actively engaged in your life.

Curiosity takes you from an ordinary life to an extraordinary one. With a curiosity, you pay attention in much deeper ways.

Your world opens up to new possibilities.

One of the greatest offshoots of asking questions is this takes you into places that you couldn’t have imagined by yourself. This is how great discoveries and inventions have occurred.

Curiosity keeps you in touch with feeling alive.

A curious life is one that has excitement and adventure and that leads to a rich and satisfying life. 

According to Todd Kashdan, author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, the benefits of leading a curious life include increased health, intelligence, social relationships, happiness and meaning.  

Curiosity is fundamental to all humans. We can cultivate it in our lives, too.  Here are some ideas for making curiosity a daily part of your life. 

Developing a Curiosity Practice

Read a variety of books. Through this practice you will be able to see connections between different ideas and look at a problem through a different lens. For example, fiction books often are well researched, introducing you to a new perspective or thought.

Change the ordinary. When going down a routine route or walking down a familiar path, what do you notice that is different?

Ask a lot of questions. When meeting someone new, step outside of the regular inquiries about the kind of work a person does and explore what new project in their life is exciting them. For people you already know, ask questions about their lives or interests.

Be open to new experiences. Rather than going to an immediate no, think of the experience as a way of learning more about yourself and the world. Practice saying yes for a day.

Dive into those interests and passions that intrigue you. For this week, what is one way that you can go deeper into your interests. This can be about learning more about interests of yours. 

In this Year of the Monkey, develop their spirit of irrepressible curiosity.