Negative capability

The poet John Keats (pictured above) defined Negative Capability as, “when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, or doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

In other words, the ability to experience life without the need to explain it.

When we are kids this comes easily. When we experience something for the first time our natural reaction is wonder. As we get older, however, our minds become more rigid. We have less and less new experiences every year until eventually our minds build out a perception or narrative of the world. Our brains then seek to fit everything we experience that we have into that narrative that we have built.

Practicing Negative Capability means resisting the impulse to fit our experiences into our existing perception of the word — instead allowing them the time and space to exist independently.

The discipline to wonder.