Is the zest for exploration, discovery and learning. Curiosity makes us take genuine interest in others and invite new experiences and adventures joyfully and without reservation.
Curiosity opens doors into realms of new possibilities for our lives. It is simultaneously a mental posture (a state of mind), and an emotion (something we feel). Curiosity is a tool that allows us to engage with unfamiliar territory in healthy ways, and enables us to access a state of non-judgement. It is a tool of self-regulation.
Curiosity is a predominant characteristic for some personality types. For others who are less inclined in this way, it is something that can be developed with conscious effort. In the same way we learn to regulate our conditioned emotional reactions to our triggers, we can also intentionally cultivate curiosity in our lives.
When we are triggered, most of us jump unconsciously and habitually to our conditioned reactions. For example, we may automatically react with anger, frustration, or anxiety when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations, simply because our systems are used to responding in this way. These kinds of negative emotions serve their purpose in many ways, but they also have a tendency to erect walls around us.
Choosing to engage with curiosity in these instances can serve as a pattern interrupt. Instead of becoming trapped in the downward spiral (of anger, anxiety, depression, or other automatic responses and defence mechanisms) we can choose instead to activate curiosity, thereby opening up possibilities for greater growth. When we do, we allow for the possibility of deepening our understanding of ourselves and our situations.
It has been widely taught within the fields of psychology and personal development that thoughts lead to feelings, feeling lead to actions, actions lead to results. Using this model, imagine being in a challenging circumstance and on one hand reacting with your conditioned defence-mechanism versus engaging with curiosity.
Allow me to illustrate using a simplified example.
Imagine that you applied for a job that you were really excited about, but after interviewing ended up not getting the position.
Option 1: react through your conditioned patterns (in this case self-pity and resentment).
You think to yourself “I am a failure. I will never find a job.” As a result you feel angry and discouraged. You brood in this feeling and resentfully trudge through the rest of your day irritated and feeling sorry for yourself. This leads to you interacting with people with aggravation, and you end up speaking to a loved one in an angry way for something insignificant. You get into a fight. It negatively affects your relationship with your loved one for the rest of the week.
Option 2: choose to engage with curiosity.
You think to yourself “I wonder what I could have done differently to make a better impression”. You allow yourself to feel curious about how to improve. You write an email or call the company to ask them how you could have done better. The person who interviewed you finds merit in your initiative and openly shares their advice with you (and perhaps offers to call you when another position opens up, or offers to pass on your resume to a colleague for another opening that is currently available). You get off the call having learned something new that you can apply the next time an opportunity comes along. At the end of the day you share with your loved one about the new thing what you learned because you chose to respond with curiosity instead of self-pity or resentment. They smile because they are proud of you for doing your internal self-work.
Though this may be a simple example, the point is that curiosity can be a powerful tool to help up open up new options for our lives.
Curiosity is a tool we can use to interrupt our conditioned patterns, learn new things, and grow.
Instead of getting wrapped up in a story that perpetuates unhealthy patterns, shift your focus to being curious, ask questions and take interest in better understanding the situation at hand. Whether it is taking a look at your internal narrative or seeking additional information from the people or resources around you.
When we allow ourselves to be curious, we open new pathways and options for our lives.
I choose curiosity over my conditioned reactions.
I take joy in new experiences and learning new things.