I am a bookworm, no question about it. I learned to read at age 3 and haven’t stopped since. Yet when I was recently asked what my favorite hobby was, I hesitated to say reading. Because that word by itself doesn’t quite say enough — after all, do I mean reading fiction? non-fiction? magazines? blogs? all of the above?
I took some time to consider how to define what I enjoy doing more than anything else, and finally narrowed it down to one overarching theme: feeding my curiosity. That incorporates many different activities, but all with the same end in mind — reading both fiction and nonfiction, exploring nature, learning new skills, practicing hobbies, trying new experiences, and just being inquisitive about life in general.
The word curiosity is defined as “inquisitiveness; the tendency to ask and learn about things by asking questions, investigating, or exploring.” And I think that explains my mentality pretty well! But it hasn’t always been that way.
I used to take everything at face value, rarely digging beneath the surface of words or actions, and never letting myself wonder about the why’s and how’s of people, places, things, and ideas. I didn’t do anything to feed my curiosity, and so it became stagnant and forgotten.
But then something sparked my interest, and I started digging deeper, not because I had to for work or school, but simply because I wanted to learn something for my own personal enjoyment.
Know what the neat thing is about curiosity? The more you feed it, the greater it grows.
Once you start asking questions, the more questions start coming to mind. Once you open your mind to explore the world around you, the more places you discover to keep exploring. Once you begin investigating the why’s and how’s of people and ideas, the more you start wondering and inquiring about.
I still have a ways to go in certain areas. I’m not nearly curious enough about people (hello #ISTJ!), and there are certainly a few topics I simply have no interest in learning about (umm… wastewater management, anyone?). But keeping an attitude of curiosity lets me constantly be amazed by mysteries of God’s creation, captivated by the depth and variety of personalities in this world, and intrigued by humanity’s progress (or lack thereof) over the past eight thousand years on this earth.
For instance, we recently moved to a small town in western Wyoming. After living in eastern states for several decades of life, I find myself captivated by the vast differences in topography, wildlife, industries, and mindsets between the two coasts. I find myself spending hours learning the names of all the wildflowers I see, and asking all sorts of questions about the plethora of wildlife that roams freely around the area. I’m exploring subjects I’d never given a thought to before — like the history of coal mining, the unique science of high elevation, and the expeditions of Lewis and Clark. Just one reason I’m thankful to live in an age where information is so readily available to us!
My point is this: the more I explore and learn, the more I want to explore and learn.
Maybe you’re not very curious. Maybe nothing new has sparked your interest in a long time, or maybe you’re simply too stressed or tired to pay attention to the fascinating world around you. Perhaps the bugle call of Netflix has drowned out the whispers of exploration and learning, or the contentment of the “known” has overshadowed the uncertainty of trying something new.
What can you do about it? How can you reawaken your sense of curiosity?
Take a few minutes today and try one of these ideas:
- Google everything. Crowd-sourcing is great, but often you get simplistic answers without further explanations. Continue asking your social networks for help, but don’t stop there: next time, take 5-10 minutes to dig a little deeper online.
- Get to know someone better. Make a note in your planner to spend 5 minutes today with someone you don’t know very well. Ask a coworker about their favorite hobbies, call an acquaintance to ask how they’re doing this week, or simply reach out to your neighbor across the street (cookies are always welcome, of course!).
- Read, read, read. Reading awakens your curiosity no matter what genre you prefer. Not only does it keep your mind agile, but it lets you explore “strange new worlds” and awakens your interest in ideas. In fact, a recent study even confirmed a link between reading (even just 30 minutes per day) and a longer lifespan! Pick up a new book and read a chapter or two before going to bed tonight.
- Let your mind wander. Stop scheduling activity for every.single.moment of every day. Instead, schedule 5-10 minutes (maybe during that afternoon slump?) to pause and daydream: ponder something out of the ordinary, explore the why’s and how’s behind what you see and hear each day, or simply let your mind contemplate some new venture or idea.
- Use your smartphone. Forget social networks or games: the Curiosity app provides a fast, easy, and free way to keep learning something every day. It shares 5 short new facts every day, which you can simply scroll through or tap to learn more. You can also access it on the web if you’re not a smartphone user.
- Keep a journal. All those things you’re starting to learn or be curious about? Write down one of them every day. Then review your list at the end of each week and pick one thing to learn about in more detail. Note: it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or deep; your entries could be as short as one sentence and as simple as noting a few details about someone you met or a book you want to check out.
- Take a free class. It takes just a moment to bookmark this site or this site for a rainy day, and start thinking of a topic you’d like to learn more about — whether it’s related to your job or not! Every subject has something to teach us and applications that reach into myriad realms of life. For an added bonus, consider asking some friends or coworkers to sign up for a class with you. You’ll build stronger relationships and learn something new at the same time!
My goal is to never stop learning: how about you? tweet this
Tell me something! How do you feed your curiosity on a regular basis?
Image credit: underverse / 123RF Stock Photo