I was blessed recently to share five days with one of my sisters and a nephew. She drove from Connecticut to Colorado Springs where she picked-up her son at school and then continued on to New Mexico for the Thanksgiving holiday. She would have flown but her son asked if she would mind driving his car to school for his use. Being the mother she is, she didn’t hesitate. 🙂
We spent time on three different days hiking in glorious Indian Summer weather, coupled with plenty of intriguing conversations. During one hike along the Sandia Crest (10,600 ft. elevation) trails I got to thinking, out loud, about why many adults spend less time being curious (we were discussing lichen). After all, curiosity is a key value of highly creative and innovative people.
Curiosity fuels the acquisition of new information. Our brain takes in data and sorts, categorizes, relates, leverages and combines what is already present to create novel connections. And novel neural connections are the source of all that is new. So curiosity is an important learning tool.
Developing a new habit of asking more questions than you do at this point in your life is essential to energize your curiosity. Questioning is a cognitive pattern that can be habituated in our brain. Curiosity is questioning and by training your brain to question more, you become more curious. Why is it then, that children do this frequently and adults do so less?
We have challenges at work, at home, and in the world that require creative solutions. It’s quite possible that those solutions will emerge from novel connections that we create in our minds. Consider asking yourself: What might be all of the things that I could do to enhance curiosity in myself and those around me? And you don’t even need to be at 10,600 feet altitudes to reflect on this.
If you are interested in exploring newness, here are three ways in which to feed your curiosity:
- Post a reminder on your bathroom mirror: “What am I curious about today?” or “What am I interested in learning about today?”
- When you hear someone say “It can’t be”, ask, “Why not?” Researcher Andy Aleinikov likes to say “Why not” every not.
- Pick up a publication that you wouldn’t typically read. Make yourself read at least one article or abstract that does not look interesting. Seriously. It’ll only take ten minutes and you might discover a new curiosity.
Or you can simply hang out on hiking trails with inquisitive minds. 🙂