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Cultivating Curiosity

by Beth on December 26th, 2021

Several years ago, I started choosing a word each January that I wanted to focus on for the coming year. I chose mindfulness one year, gratitude another, and compassion. The word I’ve picked for 2022 is curiosity. Curiosity is a desire to seek out new experiences or knowledge. Research shows that curiosity is related to happiness, achievement, stronger relationships, and better health. It also helps you learn and makes learning more fun.

I want to embrace curiosity more fully this year for two additional reasons: 1) curiosity makes life more meaningful and 2) curiosity enhances empathy.

Curiosity is a key ingredient for creating a meaningful life. It encourages us to engage more fully in life by being more open to new experiences. Being curious leads us to explore, discover, and grow.

I love to learn, but I’m risk averse. My preference for playing it safe can keep me from trying new things or venturing outside of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans to skydive or bungee jump this year, but I do plan to lean into my curiosity to be more open to meaningful opportunities. I will try to be more curious about the unknown than fearful of it. 

One of my favorite shows is Ted Lasso. The characters and the story are great, but what I love most are Ted’s positive life lessons. The one that really stuck with me was his suggestion to be curious not judgmental. It sure feels like there is a lot of judgment going on these days. We are so divided over politics, vaccines, what should be taught in schools, etc. 

It’s hard not to judge people who disagree with us on such important issues, but it doesn’t help. Surely we would get along better and make more progress if we were curious about why people feel the way they do. Curiosity can motivate us to be open to viewing the world from other perspectives. I may never understand people’s positions on some of these big issues, but having curiosity in my daily exchanges with others will very likely increase my empathy and improve my relationships. 

Todd Kashdan, author of the book Curious?, calls curiosity the engine of growth. I believe that I can grow to become a better person if I spend the next year cultivating curiosity in the pursuit of more meaningful experiences and making an effort to replace judgement with curiosity. What about you? What will be your word for 2022?

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