I feel like over the course of time we lose some of that curiosity, or it's suppressed in order to not be seen as a nuisance to those around us. In general as a society, we teach our children to not question authority, to not question society, to not question the status quo, to not question their teachers, leaders, elders, politicians, etc. It seems as though over time we lose a lot of that childlike curiosity. To some degree we stop questioning, stop being curious, stop learning and instead start judging.
On some level maybe we don't want to give away that it's something we don't already know. To be curious implies that we don't already have all of the answers. God forbid should someone think we don't already know.
Or is it that as adults we don't have the time to be curious? We are so busy with our lives and running on the hamster wheel that we simply don't have the time, capacity, desire to engage in the effort of being curious.
It seems like we have replaced curiosity with judgment. Instead of being curious about someone or something, we quickly resort to judging them or it instead. We form quick conclusions based on what we think we know and how it fits with the little bubble that we live in. We sync up with those who are like-minded and judge the rest as being "wrong".
It can feel maybe safer to judge and stay in our bubble and keep others in their bubble instead of trying to understand, instead of being curious. If we are curious and we learn a little more than we run the risk of being confused, of not having concrete answers that judgment seems to provide. We want a "right" and a "wrong" answer, that feels manageable and safe. Our view of the world and of people might shift and that can feel scary.
I listened to an episode of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, where she was interviewing film and television producer Brian Grazer about his new book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. I love Brian's ideas on expanding our curiosity, a trait he attributes to his success and says should be as much a part of our culture as creativity and innovation. Brian made a decision early on in his career to seek out "curiosity conversations" with at least one new person each day. He stresses how all of us can benefit from this practice of stepping outside our comfort zones.
Brian discussed and gave examples of how these "curiosity conversations" helped his career, opened up doors for him, and caused him to be a more connected and interesting person. I love the idea of engaging in curiosity conversations. Conversations where we are just really trying to connect with another human being and learn about them, their life, their interests, their passions, their career, their thoughts, their opinions. What an easy and powerful way to gain awareness of our world, gain perspective, see life through another lens, gain empathy, gain knowledge.
Here's another way to look at the concept of holding "curiosity conversations"...We've all had conversations with people where we walk away feeling good about the person, like they heard us, were interested in us. On the flip side, we've all had conversations where we walked away and felt like we were "talked to" or not understood, not heard, or where the person wasn't really present. I aspire for my interactions with people to end with them feeling acknowledged versus judged or disregarded. We've all felt the difference. Approach everyone and every situation with curiosity and release judgment.
The concept of leading a curious life appeals to me. I don't want to squelch my curiosity. I don't want to instantly judge or follow the status quo, or what someone, or what society tells me I should be thinking or asking about. I don't want to be so busy all the time that I don't have a few minutes to engage in a real conversation with the person next to me. It's important for us to explore, to question, to engage in life. Be curious about other people, be curious about where our food comes from, be curious about our spirituality, be curious about a country we are visiting, be curious about other cultures and races, be curious about what our heart is telling us, be curious about our purpose, the list is endless.
I love this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, "A curiosity-driven life is a beautiful thing. Following your curiosity begins a scavenger hunt that can lead you to amazing places...It might even lead you to your passion."