Feel Better #14: Be Curious

Bronze sculpture of a warrior with sunray hair.

"Curiosity killed the cat," goes the proverb, which I always thought was a total kill-joy. Until I heard the second line in the Iggy Pop song "Curiosity" that follows with:

"But satisfaction brought it back."

Curiosity as a cure-all

I forget over and over and over again about the power of curiosity. Have you ever noticed, when you're piqued or anxious or peeved or broody or doubtful, if you get curious about the story of that emotion, your focus shifts to discovering or creating or puzzle-solving or connecting, reaching out . . . something or someplace better.  

Years ago a wise woman/mentor/therapist suggested I get curious about my loneliness. At the time I was single, self-employed and feeling sad and sorry for myself. I sat in my mentor's apartment gripping a wad of kleenex, watching her drink tea from a beautiful floral tea cup. She had short crisp red hair and sparkly hazel eyes, lipstick, a handsome lined face and a mischievous smile. "Get curious," she said leaning in. Plants were growing up the corners of the room from too-small pots. The walls were lined with books, some that she pulled out and dropped right into my lap. "Get curious about your loneliness!" she repeated.  

I took a walk after our session and got curious about my loneliness. I walked past blue bungalows and three-story shingled homes, maple trees and cats sitting on stairs. It was going from dusk to dark, it was a warm October evening and the leaves shimmered as I moved from home to home, block after block. As I explored my loneliness I saw it as a little dog with a wet button nose sniffing around the neighborhood. My loneliness wasn't tragic, it was a sweet, innocent adventurer!

Toddler crawling after a brown lab.

One of the best things about curiosity is how it moves us from a state of defensiveness to a state of discovery.


More recently, my husband and I got curious after the president pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord. Initially, I was pissed and scared and sad and despairing--a nice cocktail of emotions. My husband suggested we search the web to A) learn more about the Paris Accord, and then B) what a couple of wee individuals like us could do to make a difference. There's so much! I had no idea! From eating less meat to not driving so fast, there were so many simple acts and decisions that are all SO DOABLE, and they all make a difference to holding up this beautiful earth we live on. 

If I get curious after a family member or colleague says something that inflames me because I am being defensive and self-protective, that means I ask a question and we can have a conversation to learn something, rather than throwing exclamation-pointed barbs back and force that do nothing more than hold shields up to our quivering egos. 

When you're curious you can't be afraid.

Curiosity is the antidote to doubt.

When you're curious your heart is open.

Curiosity is the enchantment of a sea breeze.

Einstein was curious.

It's adventure and play.

Kids are curious. "Why?" "Why?" "Why?"

Curiosity is a giant pink petal in your hand with a tiny pixie on it waving at you, whispering your name. "Over here," it says. And you follow it.

There's science to support curiosity

And GOSSIPING! I added this because it's fun:

... our brains also find it rewarding to learn new and interesting things—even if it’s just office gossip. George Loewenstein, a neuroeconomist at Carnegie Mellon who has investigated the phenomenon of curiosity, has found that merely getting answers to questions visibly activates the reward system in people who are lying in a brain scanner.
— From "How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life" by Caroline Webb 

I'm not one to promote gossiping at the office but . . . 

But isn't it fun to read from economist that GOSSIP is considered a form of curiosity that can make us feel a wee better in troubled times?

Spend some time with curiosity today, see where it takes you. 

This month is dedicated to Feeling Better in a Troubled World: Simple ways you can catch a breath and remember a bit of beauty when the news is getting you down. If you want to talk more about feeling better in troubled times, email me for a conversation at tatyana@everydaycreative.net . There's no need to feel alone! XO