I was a pretty curious kid.
At times, it got me in trouble, like the time I biked down the street, met another child way down the street, and followed them home to explore inside their house. They weren’t one of my closest neighbours, where it was common to visit and my parents knew to look for me. This was probably part of the draw, and why I went in when invited.
It could also be painful, like the time I wondered what it would be like to put a key into the 110V electrical wall outlet. I like to joke that I still have curly hair from that experience.
At times it could be problematic, as a curiosity and desire for new experiences could make it hard to stick things out (especially when school or work weren’t hugely interesting).
When I read David Epstein’s book, Range, I finally understood myself and begin to see my interest in many different things as a strength rather than the weakness I knew it to be as I struggled to stick with an instrument, sport, or activity.
But even if it has its downsides, it is one of my characteristics that I am most grateful for. It has given me the ability to travel, live, and move around the world.
It has made me a pretty good problem solver, whether technical or interpersonal. I love to figure out what someone really means, not just what they say.
I am especially grateful now as I am studying and working a lot of compassion.
I am starting to call it one of my “super powers”.
The ability to be curious about how others’ think and experience things, makes it a lot easier to be empathetic (see things as another sees them) and therefore, compassionate (have a desire to decrease their suffering).
The other day in my leader class, I recommended curiosity as an approach when there are differing opinions.
If we genuinely, sincerely want to understand another person – how could that be a bad thing? When we question to understand, rather than question to sort out right vs wrong, humiliate, or win, how is that a bad thing?
If we can step away from our own opinions and impressions, and really try to see things as someone else does, we might find that we are both right and we can find solutions in between.
When we can recognise when what might seem like an innocuous situation has somehow disturbed someone, we look for solutions to alleviate their suffering, rather than blaming or being frustrated with them.
As I say every time I teach culture, “We are all good people, trying to do good things, we just define good differently.”, I truly believe in the general goodness of humanity and I believe that it is my curiosity that has helped me see and believe this.
How could you bring more curiosity into your interactions? Or what do you think?
I really am curious to hear your thoughts.