Choose Curiosity Over Fear

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Point to Ponder:
Is there something you’ve been afraid to try or curious about that you have not acted on?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

On the heels of “Viewing Life as an Experiment” I came across an outstanding article in the October edition of SUCCESS Magazine by Patty Onderko titled “Curiouser and Curiouser.”  The title intrigued me and after I read the first sentence I was hooked! The first sentence says “curiosity didn’t kill anything, rather being curious can bring a part of you—the excited, anything-is-possible part- back to life.” Now that’s what I’m talking about!

According to Dr. Todd Kashan, professor of psychology at George Mason University, “Curiosity is the antidote to boredom. It’s the engine to growth, it leads to exploration, which leads to discovery and is the missing ingredient to a fulfilling life.” And, per the article, my five favorite ways to let go of certainty and embrace the unknown are:

  • Act on your curiosity. Feeling curious is a nice feeling on its own. Brain-mapping studies have shown that the curiosity emotion lights up a feel good portion of the brain. We feel excited about the unknown and energized by the idea of something new. But, taking action on your curiosity is what makes the difference in the quality of your life. So, if you’re curious about surfing, take surfing lessons. And, in a survey of over 130,000 people, the strongest predictor for how much enjoyment a person experienced on any given day was whether he or she had learned something new the day before.

  • Get to know your spouse. So you think you know your spouse or significant other? Because human beings are extremely complex and ever changing, try asking what his biggest fear is or favorite song or movie. It’s likely the answers are very different than you suspect. Learning new things about one other is a fun experiment and one that opens up interesting conversations.

  • Choose curiosity over comfort. One big advantage to being a grown-up is that, by now, you know what you like and what you don’t. You may have long ago realized that you are not a beach person, for example. Or that you hate mystery novels. This is a good thing. And you can live a very enjoyable life going on the same type of vacation every year and reading the same type of novels. But study after study has shown that enjoyment is different from fulfillment. And it’s the fulfilling part that has shown to be a more important factor in overall life satisfaction. So, while you may love linguini con le vongole at your local trattoria, try the osso bico every once in a while. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV with a glass of wine tonight, as is your routine, go for an evening stroll instead. You don’t have to sacrifice your daily pleasures as long as you routinely try finding new ones, too.

  • Imagine you are in an art gallery. When you visit an art museum, you don’t expect to like everything you see, but you typically keep an open mind and an appraising eye on all of the work. You may not want to put a particular piece of art over your home mantel, but you allow for the idea that it might make you think, and you open yourself up to the possibility of being moved. Attitude is everything in our lives. We don’t have to like everyone and enjoy every experience, but we should be open to finding out about them.

  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Like children, be inquisitive and ask questions. The more different people we can converse with and learn from, the more positive we feel about the day, and therefore the more fulfilled we are.

I’ve always thought that children have it figured out and we can learn so much from them — they lead with their heart and not with their head, they’ll try anything (except vegetables), they are infinitely curious and fearless! These are admirable characteristics that unfortunately we, adults, can lose over time. Curiosity, like balance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and strength is a muscle, and when we don’t use it, we lose it. I believe curiosity is the result of vulnerability, letting go of certainty, comfort, control, security and seeing life through the eyes of an adventurous tiger slaying ninja or fairytale princess.

I invite you to join me on a self-improvement curiosity journey that will lead us to a more fulfilling life. What better inspiration than a five-year-old YouTube sensation, fairytale princess performing Love is an Open Door (I like to call it ‘Life is an Open Door” b/c it is!), from the movie Frozen, with her awesome mom, which landed them an invitation to the Ellen show. You just never know where curiosity will lead you, and that’s the best part!

Action Item: 
Try one thing this week (doesn’t have to be earth-shattering) that is out of your norm.

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One thought on “Choose Curiosity Over Fear

  1. Pingback: Face Your Fears | the iGnite blog

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