Curiosity asks questions of us and pokes at us to find the answers. It excites us and scares us to almost equal degrees.
Those who embrace it are those who have further pushed the understanding of our world.
What’s across this sea? What’s beyond those stars? What’s the top of the mountain look like?
What could we build with this technology? Why do some flowers bloom faster than others? Why don’t all birds with wings fly?
Why are some people more curious than others? Why do we ask so many questions? Can we just chill out in mountain pose for a minute?
Curiosity can be as frustrating as it is invigorating. But, it’s a part of our being, and it can’t be ignored or overfed.
When I ask myself why I can’t stop asking, I think of this note by Thomas Hobbes:
“There is no such thing as perpetual tranquility of the mind while we live here; because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than it can be without sense.”
We cannot live without a sense of curiosity. So, we embrace it even if it pulls away from the bliss of ignorance. Though curiosity is a beautiful thing, it can be one hell of a beast to tame.
Psychologist Jeffrey Davis described it as this:
“Curiosity is a hungry emotion that can get satiated. Left to its own devices, the curious mind could become an information-bloated blow-hard.”
Balance is the key to walking the tightrope between knowing and not knowing. Answers to questions lead to more questions, and too many questions at once gets overwhelming.
Research says an intelligent curiosity is what drives people to work harder and find success, whatever that may mean to them.
So, the question becomes, "How do we stand on the edge of curiosity without falling over it?"
It's simple, but it's not easy:
1. Ask questions and observe the answers before asking more.
It’s not just about asking questions. It’s about asking the right questions, and finding those takes observation.
What sparks your curiosity, and why does that spark it?
Why is a great question in business.
In his famous TED Talk, Simon Sinek explained:
"People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it."
Success in business is similar to success in life. Your answer to why you are chasing the things you are must be deeply rooted in your heart.
With any difficult situation you want to understand, you must ask the who, what, when, where, how and why. You also have to be patient when coming to a full understanding of those things.
If you don’t observe, moving on to the next set of questions will be cluttered with leftover issues from the last.
We have to clean our plates and digest before adding to them.
2. Don’t ignore your desires and fears; understand them.
Let’s take something simple: There’s a box on the counter with your name on it. You wonder what’s inside, where it came from, who it could have come from, how it got there and why it was left there for you to open.
Asking all of these questions leads to the excitement to find out what could be inside. A gift? But, there is also a fear. What if it’s not a gift? What if it’s something that will lead you to more problems?
Don’t just leave the box sitting there.
Curiosity left unattended has a haunting way about it.
Maybe you take a step back and notice that the box is two things: holding something inside while also hiding what it is holding.
It’s kind of artistic and beautiful in that way, so you smile and release any fear.
Then, you say to yourself, “Whatever is inside this box, I will be grateful for the opportunity to understand a lingering question.”
Open the box.
Whatever is inside, move with it. You are the box. Open yourself. You are the gift. Don't ignore your desires and fears.
You’ve gone and done it. You scratched the itch of curiosity. You opened the box, and now you have a brand new plate of food for thought and understanding.
And, it could go a couple different ways:
1. I don’t like this.
Don’t freak out now that you’ve got a hold of something you don’t like.
Learn from it. Why don’t you like it? What will you do with it? Toss it? Get creative, and use it to make something you do like?
Help it find its way out of your life? Or, maybe you can find someone who will like it, and you can give it to the person and move along. Now, you’ve done a good deed.
2. I love this.
"Wow, curiosity is amazing!"
You’ve never experienced anything like it. You can’t get enough of it, and now you want more. Don’t chow down and choke.
Learn from it. Why do you love it so much? What will you do with it?
Take care of it so it grows. Figure out how you can keep getting more of it in digestible amounts.
3. I don’t even know how to feel about this.
Oh, boy. Now you’re confused because it has good elements and bad elements, and you’re lost in a rabbit hole of thought and conflicting emotions. You're teetering and tottering, but don’t freak out.
Learn from it. What will you do with these conflicting emotions? Work on becoming a more decisive person by reading this article on the art of decision-making. It’s an incredibly important quality.
You may never feel ready to open the box, but opening it (with care) is what will make you ready to cross any sea, climb any mountain or see past any stars. Open curiosity, and enjoy the ride.