Cultivating Curiosity and Wonder
Are you a curious person by nature? If you’re not now, can you remember when you were in your younger years, and how much richer and more fulfilling life was as a result? Do you recall how you were eager to greet each day with a sense of excitement wondering what new experiences you might have (or create for yourself)? And how that led to boundless energy and enthusiasm? As humans we are gifted with curiosity but for many people it gets lost as we grow up and take on more responsibilities and demands; we become jaded and cynical.
For many adults, we become accustomed to towing the line, to fitting in, to avoid ruffling feathers by asking too many questions that could cause us to be distracted and take our focus off the tasks (and “priorities”) at hand. This is where it all goes wrong. Too many companies downplay and discourage curiosity as it’s perceived by many as disruptive. But the irony is that curiosity is at the very heart of creativity which causes ingenuity and leads to innovation; a drive to try things, break things, to experiment. Curiosity is a strong desire to learn, understand or master a sense of knowingness about things, and it’s a critical skill for creative problem-solving.
All of our biggest leaps forward have been sparked by a sense of wonder and curiosity. My years at Apple were exceptional in part because the culture encouraged us to ‘think different’ and fostered curiosity and innovation; it was rewarded, not punished. With the spark of curiosity, bright minds align stoked by a sense of purpose and creativity, lifting each other to greater heights in an inspiration-fueled environment. Sadly however, many (if not most) companies don’t think like that and haven’t created and nurtured such cultures.
Wonder rides shotgun with curiosity, and it’s dependent on not having all the answers. When we are in wonder, our curiosity allows the mind to open and to be in flow, to experience bliss and deep moments of awe, and to be fully present. It’s both a generative state and a generous state; when we’re in it, we’re open to possibilities and paths not taken. We get out of our own way and allow the best parts of ourselves to drive.
9 Ways to Embrace Curiosity and Tap into Your Creativity
*Read — learn about people who do (or have done) what you do (or want to do); in art, business or whatever.
*Slow down and take your time — give yourself the gift of making space in your mind to daydream and ideate.
*Pay attention to minute details — like smells, taste, what you hear and see, how things feel, your own thoughts!
*Practice asking good questions of others — including why they do things the way they do and what’s important?
*Say ‘yes’ to less so you have space to allow yourself more room to play, tinker and re-ignite your creative spark.
*Spend time with children (and select adults who act like children!) to infuse your serious life with play and fun.
*Travel more (!) — or at the very least be an armchair traveler who is curious to broaden their world view.
*Try new things — new foods, new places, new friends, new experiences; the world is at your command (!).
*Give yourself permission to operate from a sense of wonder and curiosity no matter what others may think.
We had lovely weather this past weekend, and I felt an urge to get out and explore. I didn’t have anyone to go with me so I took myself to Carmel, CA (one of my favorite places), and did whatever I felt led to do without worrying about holding anyone up or whether or not they’d be up for my indulgences. I allowed my sense of wonder and curiosity to lead the way — and was in a state of bliss and flow; it felt terrific. It was a simple day filled with simple pleasures, and really the journey of the drive there and back was as restorative as the town.
I hope you’ll be inspired to take this topic to heart, and to try some of these techniques for yourself. We all deserve to live in a state of wonder and curiosity, liberating our souls to have more fun and experience more. The more you foster and fuel your own curiosity, the more fulfilling your life will be, and the more you can demonstrate it and encourage it in those around you — it can cast a very welcome ripple effect in your world.