“Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
In the coaching profession we have a guiding principle that suggests we approach things with an attitude of curiosity. I have found that it is a great tool when I work with clients — not only for them to adopt as they take a look at their life but for me as well. Why is being curious so important?
Before I answer that by giving you some real life scenarios, I’d like to look at what curious means with the help of the Roget’s Thesaurus.
Curious: interest, thirst for knowledge, inquiring, a desire to learn
And the antonym of curious? Indifference. Ugh, sounds like a bad way to go through life right there.
Indifference: lack of interest, coldness, apathy, dispassionate.
Now first, let me say that there is room in our lives to be both. And, quite frankly we are all curious and indifferent at one time or another. What I’m talking about here though is overall — how do you navigate your life?
With a zest for life and a thirst for knowledge yearning to learn more about yourself and the world?
With utter indifference and apathy toward everything simply letting life take you where it will?
Clearly curiosity wins the battle if you’re looking to live an energizing and fulfilling life. What does it look like to live with the practice of being curious? It means you need to give up your righteous position of being “right” all the time. It means you have to stop blaming and start taking responsibility for what you create in your world. And, it means you get to approach the things that you do with the wonderment of a child. Ever take a kid to somewhere new? Well, they are excited and embody wonderment the whole time. Everything is new and to be explored. The same holds true for dogs and cats (those of us with a pension for furry kids) when you place them in new surroundings or even bring a new piece of furniture into the house. Now, what if you take most adults to the same new place? Most people totally tune out, start talking on their cell phone, disconnecting, or any other numerous behaviors that allow them to check out and fall into indifference. Who do you think has the better experience?
The same holds true for our lives. We create our own experiences and it starts with an open, curious mind. When you’re curious you get to:
- enjoy your experiences more
- learn a lot of new things
- notice many of life’s treasures (as in stop and see and smell the roses)
- experience richer relationships (because you listen and are present)
- maximize your personal potential (because you learn and focus on personal growth)
- achieve more success (you don’t stay stuck in a rut and keep digging a hole)
- experience a rich inner life discovering new things about you all the time
These are just some of the benefits. And, we have all spent countless hours trying to beg, borrow, and steal benefits like these when they are right in front of and within us — if we are willing to be curious.
Here’s a quick coaching challenge for you. For one day in the next week approach every minute of it with what the Zen Buddhists call Beginner’s Mind. Take every minute as it comes and approach it with eagerness, a lack of preconceived perceptions, and an open mind. Really truly BE in the moment and notice what is around you and what you’re feeling inside.
At the end of that day, just notice what the experience was like. How was it different than the way you usually go through the day? What did you notice about yourself? What did you like or dislike about it?
Journal about your experience…and if you’d like to share, please do so by commenting below.