How curious are you? Do you wonder about how things work? Why people are the way they are? What makes you tick? What makes people or teams successful? Do you ask a lot of questions, or talk about yourself or things you are interested in - whether someone else is or not!! Do you observe situations, others or life?
Curiosity usually leads to awareness. And awareness and attention can change our lives. What we pay attention to is what rewires our brains - and restores our hearts. We were all born curious! Remember how often you used to ask "Why?" and how after a while your parents said, "Because I said so!" Fortunately for me, I never lost my curiosity. I am never satisfied until I 'understand' everything! But it's such an exciting way to live life. For me anyway! There is never a dull moment for me - everything is an opportunity to learn. Sitting on a plane as I am now, I can look around and wonder about every person on the plane; where they are from; what makes them behave in a way that allows them to be oblivious of others around them as they hold up the line while slowly putting their bags in the overhead compartment; why they have a phobia about flying; why they look sad or happy; why a flight attendant is crabby - or why one is wonderfully fun and enthusiastic!
Of course, I have to be careful of judging what I perceive, as I don't see reality. None of us see reality. We all perceive, judge and create our own reality. But I think curiosity and wondering help us be more flexible in our thinking. Who really knows why we do what we do, or someone else behaves in a particular way - but before we brand them as 'weird' or worse, maybe we can imagine several scenarios that may account for their behavior, and this can change our perceptions and therefore feelings and therefore the way we behave towards them.
Think of a teacher who has an 8 year old student that is driving her nuts! He is so unruly and difficult to manage that she dreads her classes with him. This is ruining her work life - she is full of stress hormones, is not teaching as well as she could be and dislikes him intensely - despite her best efforts. She has a choice - to continue this way or be curious - and wonder what makes little Johnny act this way. On investigation, she finds out that he is from a difficult home - his father beats him and his mother is an alcoholic. As soon as she finds this out, what do you think happens?
She immediately feels compassion, has some insight into what is making him seek attention at school, be aggressive or defend himself, and in a heartbeat she changes her behavior. That's the power of curiosity.
If you are curious rather than judgmental (which almost all of us are but are either unaware or not willing to admit!), life becomes an endless opportunity to learn and grow and help others - and that leads to a fulfilling purpose driven life.
Look at your life - pay attention to how you live it! Imagine what it would be like if you approached every situation with wonder and curiosity.
If you are fighting with your partner, instead of launching into a direct and immediate attack, why not stop for a few seconds - becoming aware of what is really going on, the whole picture, not just this immediate replay of old patterns, and then wonder what is making your partner behave this way, and what is making you react this way. Suddenly, a whole new world of choices opens up to you at that moment.
Now, you can respond and not just react in the old patterns that you have never even noticed before. Curiosity creates awareness. Awareness gives you choices.
If your child is driving you nuts, wonder what is driving that. Why are they seeking so much attention. What have you been doing lately that might be influencing your child. What has been going on at school that you may not know about. Do you know? Have you asked? So many times, we say to our family or friends, "...but I didn't know that; you never told me" - to which they reply, "You never asked me."
It pays to ask a lot of questions. At home AND at work! New research in how the brain works shows us that the leaders who ask more questions of their teams and ask what they think will work or not, and how they feel a problem needs to be solved, have far more engaged, cooperative and effective teams.
For social situations, my beloved Aunt Nancy gave me an invaluable piece of advice. She said, "Always ask questions and listen to people very carefully, then repeat back to them some of the things they said. They will think you are fascinating!" - and it's true! If you are feeling shy or awkward (which is just a perception and can be changed!), start asking questions. Ask "What brings you here?' or "Where are you from?" or any question relevant to the situation! "How long have you been with the company?" is a good one if you are at work. People mostly love being asked questions because it makes them feel you are interested in them. Make sure you REALLY are interested in their answers though - because it will shine through you if you are not! And they will feel uncomfortable around you.
See how curiosity can change your life? It makes people think you are fascinating; it gives you choices; it gives you more information that allows you to change your perceptions, feelings and behaviors in a heartbeat; it helps you avoid judging others; it opens up doors of connection between you and others; it makes you a better leader, sales-person, teacher, customer service professional and a better parent. Pay attention to how curious you are because curiosity can not just change your life but transform it!
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