Curious about curiosity
“I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I would never have said I was a curious person, just someone with lots of questions and ideas. I have never been afraid of asking questions and many of mine have been quite strange at times such as do chickens have periods? Do butterflies know they used to be caterpillars? (I actually asked an evolutionary biologist this question) and many other similar questions. It would seem I’m not the only person who asks questions like this and they made a book out of it! The New Scientists books such as Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions is a great read for the naturally curious person! I have to say that I am delighted that Google and Wikipedia are so easily available to help answer my many questions.
The concept of curiosity seems to have curiously entered my life quite recently. According to Dictionary.com (another great site for the curious), curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something.
As a Hypnotherapist, I am required to attend regular group supervision sessions to discuss various aspects of hypnotherapy, my practice, learn new techniques, keep abreast of current developments and to talk about case studies etc. My supervisor talks about being curious and curiosity quite a lot – it seems to be his buzz word and although I understand what curiosity is, you could say I was curious about the use of curiosity in hypnotherapy. I then went on an NLP workshop at the Folkhouse in Bristol and the workshop facilitator also talked about curiosity and guided us through a short visualisation, known as anchoring, which took us back to a time when we felt curious, helping us to re-develop our curiosity.
The time I recalled where I felt curiosity was an evening walking around the rock pools along the beach on Koh Phangan in Thailand a few years ago. The tide had gone out leaving tiny rock pools teeming with life – sea cucumbers, little crabs, and brightly coloured fish. They were all new to me and I’d never seen anything like them before so every time I saw something, I’d say to my partner “Wow! Look at that!” and “Wow! What’s that?” - It was like being a child again; I was so excited to be seeing these new curious little sea creatures. While visualising this scene and seeing in detail what I saw, hearing what I heard, and feeling what I felt it really transported me back there and I could really feel the feelings of curiosity within me and it made me feel excited and even more curious.
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why." ~Bernard Baruch
Many things we use today, such as mobile phones, computers, cars, washing machines etc. would not exist if their inventors didn’t have curiosity! Hypnotherapy and NLP wouldn’t exist if the pioneers in those fields weren’t curious people. I wouldn’t have learnt Hypnotherapy or anything else I chose to study, if I wasn’t curious. Now there is a very well known saying that “Curiosity killed the cat”, but I would have to add that the cat wouldn’t have been fed either if he hadn’t been curious (check out the photo above, taken by foxypar4)!
Curiosity is important in our life; it is what makes life interesting and as Dorothy Parker once said “The cure for boredom is curiosity”. It also makes our mind active instead of passive, asking questions and wondering about possibilities and ideas.
It is often said that the mind is like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes and curiosity is a vigorous session at the gym for your mind!
The Pegasus NLP Blog says this about curiosity:
“When we are curious we are not self-absorbed. Our attention, instead of being on ourselves and how we feel and what people think of us, is on the world outside us – on other people and on what is happening around us.
In the state of curiosity we take a break from that little dark room in our minds with all the chatter and analysis and doubts and hopes and irritabilities and guilts and resentments.
In the state of curiosity we take a holiday from self-absorbed thinking! We replace self-consciousness with other-consciousness.”
With this in mind, curiosity can be used to help our thought processes and internal dialogue become more positive and solution focused.
So for example, if we do, say or think something which we are upset or annoyed about, instead of beating ourselves up about it and being self-judgmental like our inner voice might ordinarily do, we should be curious about it and say to ourselves “Isn’t that interesting! I wonder why that happened! Isn’t that curious!”
Being curious helps us to have a different perspective on things and can also foster a more positive way of thinking in addition to helping us come up with solutions to our problems.
Thinking “I shouldn’t have done that I’m so stupid” doesn’t get us anywhere but curiously asking “Why did I do that and what could I do differently next time?” can help us to move forward. Many of the questions I use in my hypnotherapy sessions foster curiosity and help clients to move forward with their lives.
“I keep six honest serving-men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.”
Now go be curious!