The Extraordinary Gift of Being Curious

Poet and humanitarian Samuel Ullman once said. “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old when they desert their ideals.” We find there is a great deal of truth in this statement. We also find that one of the ways some of us desert our ideals as we age is that we stop being curious about life.

So a particularly valuable step—especially for those of us who weren’t born yesterday—is to stop pretending we know or have done it all and start turning our attention toward what we do not yet know and have not yet done. In this way the next stage of our lives can become a real-time adventure in which each moment is an opportunity for greater wonder and joy.

Yes, start being curious about life again. After all, if it were not for the fact that we were once curious about the things we did not know and could not yet do, we would not have learned all of the things we now know and can do. But let’s also be curious about our inner selves. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us?” This one shift in focus will serve you extraordinarily well in the years ahead.

Steps To Being Curious

     Change Simple Things—Begin with something easy and within your control. Change something about the way you look—your hair or the color or style of your clothes. Change the route you drive to your home or office; what you do for entertainment; the kind of exercise you do or the food you eat. Yes, experiment and notice the impact these changes have in your life.

     Change Your Perspectives—Try seeing life from someone else’s point of view. Imagine how you sound, look and feel like to others—younger people, peers, those who are more or less for¬tunate than you, people who don’t speak your language, and those who are older. In short, become a student of life again and notice that it longer feels automatic and ordinary.

Change Your Physical Environment—Change the color of a room in your home or the layout of its furniture. Explore other parts of your city and different parts of the world. Take up a new hobby that gives you a different experience. And above all, get involved in what you are doing for this is your life and your goal is enjoyment and learning not perfection.

Be Curious About The Way Things Work—Take courses, watch, observe, understand! And not just physical objects! Notice what happens between the notes in a musical composition. Pay attention to what happens in the space between you breaths, between your laughter and your tears, between this moment and the next.

Take a page from the French novelist, Marcel Proust who suggested that “the real journey of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”