The One Thing You Really Do Need
I’m feeling sick. I think I need to vomit all the facts stuffed down my face by a bogus educational system.
We spend our lives thinking facts are important. Facts change. Facts are often wrong. Facts have often killed us.
Anyway, I forget most facts I’ve ever learned.
Like, “What is RNA?” I have no idea. When did Rome fall? No clue.
I’ve outsourced boring facts to Google. Google can tell me what happened and when. And how to get there. And when an unknown phone number calls me, Google can usually show me who it is.
I’m afraid of unknown phone numbers. Google: please protect me!
People say, “Google is making us stupid because we don’t use that part of our brain anymore.”
I don’t really want to use that part of my brain. I’m fine with it.
I don’t need anything. Well, I take it back: Curiosity.
And here’s why:
Dopamine is being released because I am in anticipation of the reward of curiosity getting satisfied.
Higher dopamine equals greater happiness, better brain and heart health. Live longer.
– Trip to wonderland.
The other day I passed a clothing store. There was a book in the window. I got curious. I researched the book, the author, his biography, his quotes.
I became a better person as a result. Future post.
It makes me more creative.
I recently read a book about the life of Agatha Christie. She didn’t say, “OK, the plot of my next book is A, B, and C.”
She viewed a book as a set of problems. “How do I make X seem like the killer when Y might really be the killer?”
This led to 500,000,000 books sold and enormous financial success. Questions and not facts. Curiosity and not knowledge.
Andy Warhol asked, “How can I take a soup can and make it art?”
Steve Jobs asked, “How can I take a phone and make it amazing?”
I was curious once about “The blue books.” A publisher of tiny blue books in the 1920s that sold 100s of millions of copies.
Turns out there’s an entire community on Facebook dedicated to the research and collection of these books. They answered my questions.
I studied the entire model of success behind those books. I used that model to help build my own success in self-publishing.
– Go beyond comfort zone.
Our comfort zone is where we are safe in the womb of life. Our real self is everything beyond that.
The Curiosity Zone is bigger than the Comfort Zone.
Every time you are curious, you punch another hole in that comfort zone.
– Keeps us alive.
The entire reason the species exists is because we roamed beyond the plains of East Africa and explored.
We’re the only species to explore the entire world. Why? Because our brain adapted the ability to be curious.
Specifically, the prefrontal cortex (the most recently evolved part of our brain) is responsible for the dopamine rewards of curiosity.
Cultivating the curiosity muscle is actually the muscle that has given this species life for the past 200,000 years.
It teaches us how to adapt, how to learn what to be wary of, how to learn what is good for us.
– Better relationships.
I can’t google why a loved one is upset at me. I have to be curious about it.Wonder. Maybe ask. Observe. Look for clues.
I may not know the answer. But when someone is crying or sad, I can sit down next to them. I can be there. Curiosity leads to empathy.
– All achievement in the world.
Orville and Wilbur Wright, owners of a small bike store, were up against a massive multi-million dollar plan by the government to create an airplane.
All of the government planes kept crashing. Despite all the known facts in the world.
Instead of giving up and saying, “We can’t beat the government — they have more money, people, scientists, resources” they simply asked, “what would happen if we made a bicycle with wings?”
Curiosity is the leap into the unknown. What you find there will change your life forever. Will make you fly.
– Prevent Alzheimer’s.
I mention that I keep forgetting things. And my 23andMe DNA results show that I have twice the risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s.
But…it’s not facts that prevents Alzheimer’s. It’s being curious.
A crossword puzzle is not about memory. It starts first with asking questions: “What five letters fit these squares?”
Crossword puzzles and other similar games that start with curiosity have been shown to delay Alzheimers.
All I want to do is explore. I don’t want to sit behind a cubicle all my life wondering what life could have been like. I don’t want to feel bad about my life. I want to feel hopeful.
When I was younger I liked to write. I loved to read. I liked computers. I didn’t know anything about anything.
But I wanted to learn so I asked the questions. Sometimes that led me to crash and burn. But it always saved me in the end.
Six months ago to the day I threw out all of my possessions except for three outfits, a computer, an iPad, and a phone.
These are still the only things I own. But I kept my curiosity. I try to exercise it every day.
It’s the only possession that lets me wake up in the morning and look forward to the new day. I have nothing left but curiosity.
What will happen today? I have no clue. Maybe I will hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on my life.
Related reading: 10 Things You Need to Know To Become a Great Leader
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