Theme your life around Curiosity
We all have things or places that we take comfort in — a person’s company, a favorite author, a childhood home or the home we built a family in. These things will always be a part of our life and we will return to them consistently for reassurance or comfort. Watching the Sound of Music will always be a happy place for me. I mean, who can resist?
We live in an age where technology decides (based on very complex algorithms) what to show in our “feed” based on our viewing history. If we tend to read a certain type of story — let’s say, one that supports gun restrictions — then we will increasingly see stories or adverts with that same position. It blocks alternative opinions.
Technology allows us to stay in touch with people we are familiar with. Even living across the world doesn’t remove us from our past anymore. We can Skype our old friends and prevent ourselves from going out to make new ones, different ones. Neo-Nazis can connect to other like-minded people across the country. People can garner millions of signatures overnight for a cause like Black Lives Matter — but most people don’t even know what they are actually signing. And the politicians that receive these signatures don’t listen anymore because it’s just another million signatures for another cause. It’s the third or fourth petition they’ve received with as many signatures this week. (there are some healthy connections to be made online of course — perhaps like the one we are making right now!)
We don’t talk to strangers on the subway or the bus or out at a bar anymore. We are glued to our phones — chatting to someone who isn’t even there with us.
Technology doesn’t always allow us to be curious.
We have to fight against this.
We need to start an age of curiosity to battle this trend of nationalism and populism. Those two words may as well say “stagnation” and “fear of difference.” And yes, I believe those two things create division, not unity. They create pools of like-minded people — not unity across the ocean of diversity and difference. They create people that are “in” and people that are “out.”
No one is in or out — we’re all alive… that makes us all “in.”
Do not misinterpret curiosity for going out to a movie or going to a concert. These things aren’t curious. They fit inside your world.
A life of curiosity is one of discovery, surprise, contact with the “other” and, in some ways, discomfort.
Curiosity in Others
We live in an age where connectivity across the world is at its highest in history. Yet, we now seem more polarized than ever. This is partly to blame on technology filters but it is also due to the accessibility to content, opinions and people like us at the touch of a button. We don’t hear other opinions because we seek out the opinions of people who share our own. There is nothing wrong with seeking like-minded people — you love square-dancing? Great! Find a square-dancing group. You hate Mexican people? Wait…
I’m talking about opinions which pit one group against another. Where one group thinks they are better for an arbitrary reason. If you have a conviction which disallows the existence and opinion of others then you need to be more curious about that very group you are trying to silence.
I am guilty of this. I find it very difficult to understand the stance of people who believe they should have the right to carry a gun anywhere and everywhere they would like to. I have trouble understanding this opinion because I don’t see the benefits of carrying a gun outweighing the benefits of not carrying one. But I haven’t really sought out someone who has a strong opinion otherwise. Maybe there is something I’m missing — or maybe there is something they’re missing. But most importantly — we are missing the opportunity and courage to speak to each other. And maybe we’ll just end up agreeing to disagree but curiosity needs to reign over our fears so that they can no longer be fears.
Curiosity in Activities
This is the most liberating kind of curiosity. Do something new on a regular basis. Do something you always wanted to do. Do something you’re afraid of doing. Take a class in Italian. Go skydiving. Become an expert in wine tasting. Write a book.
We have time to do these things. “I don’t have time,” is the worst excuse in the world.
Ponder for a moment the amount of time you spend on your phone everyday. An hour? Three hours? Or the amount of time watching television. Two hours? Think about how much you could do and learn if you spent it being curious about something new and different.
This is where technology can be really beneficial. Have a look through the course catalog on this FREE website. All of the courses are provided by leading institutions of education — Harvard, MIT, Berkeley — and they are all free. edx.org
And that is just one website! Visit your local community center or college and get going!
We all need to stop making excuses for not being curious. Tired? You can sleep when you’re dead. Jk — no but really, what are you waiting for? Life is not a dress-rehearsal.
Curiosity in Ourselves
Lastly, but most importantly, we need to be curious in ourselves. Do you really know who you are or what you want from life? Most of us won’t take time to spend with ourselves. We have been taught to define ourselves by the opinions that other’s have of us. Or by the amount of friends we have. Or by the performers we’ve been to see live in concert. Or by any number of ridiculous benchmarks society has set for us. But what is your personal benchmark? Do you even have one? Or are they all set by someone else?
What do you do because you love to do it? Not because someone else thinks it is great or you get something in return for doing it. Is there anything in your life like this? My brother-in-law builds things with repurposed wood. Incredible stuff. He could probably make a living doing it but he just loves doing it and wants to keep it that way. This is what I mean. I tend to write for myself. I do share it but I would keep writing even if no one read it. I also collect stereo view cards. Love them.
What is your curiosity?
Life Theme = Curiosity
So what are you waiting for? Start being curious about things that are just outside you comfort zone. Soon you’ll be wisking yourself off to the middle of the Amazon, or starting a business or asking someone to marry you.
I have a little secret.
Curiosity is the way you got to where you are now. So actually, curiosity is your life theme already. But somewhere in the middle of it all you stopped being curious and became a “maintainer.” You’re on a treadmill (hate those things). Step off and move forward. Curiosity will lead you to unexpected places where you’ll be surprised at what you find. I’ll give you a clue… it will look a lot like you as a child.
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