Bring Back Curiosity

Recently I’ve noticed something about myself (and if I’m being candid, in others too): decisions and judgements, particularly about the unexpected, tend to be quick and absolute.  As someone who advocates careful, conscious consideration of things, this discovery was disturbing. 

For instance, if I were to come across an elephant driving a Tesla my reaction would probably be “Ok sure” or “It’s a trick.”  Nothing in between.  No time taken to think about the how or why of seeing an elephant driving (these days it could be Katy Perry out for a ride, you don’t know).  It’s just acceptance or dismissal and move on.

I get it. The many things that make up the day take away from the time that used to be reserved for exploration and asking “why”.  I suppose we don’t really need to embrace the novelty of marveling at things anymore, if we want to know something, we whip out the phone and look it up.  Problem solved.  Except, as a result, I fear I’m losing my sense of curiosity and the benefits that it brings. 

There are mixed messages on the value of curiosity. Most say it’s a useful trait in business, yet many organizations stifle it (often inadvertently to move things along). My own belief is we can utilize it in a positive and healthy way. Here’s my own little real-life example of how to encourage your inquiring mind:

Way past the end of a full day, my dogs were poking at me to get up from the desk.  Their goal was dinner and to get outside for a bio break.  I was grumpy and tired after all the computer time and in no mood for their antics.  I opened up the door to the let them out and I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  I knew whatever it was had not been there earlier in the afternoon, but I assumed it was some crumpled-up leaves that had fallen and rustled to that spot. 

On the way back I spied it again, same spot, but for some reason I slowed down to look at it.  And then I stopped.  It wasn’t foliage at all, it was a frog.  A big frog.  Just sitting there on the edge of the deck.  That struck me as odd because the deck isn’t a particularly attractive destination for frogs.  It’s not a spot rich with frog food, it’s not a preferred grassy or soggy environment and it’s a predator rich zone (remember those hounds I mentioned earlier). 

Then it struck me as really peculiar because my deck is on the second story.  It’s a full flight up to get to the level he was sitting at. 


This drew me in even further. As I was crouched there, I realized I could easily get to the bottom of the mystery.  My phone was in reach – I mean I had just taken it’s picture (see it above).  Still, rather than dive in for the answer I basically sat with him for a moment and gave myself a chance to wonder: how did he get there?

Maybe frogs can jump that high…

Maybe he hopped up one step at a time and then just kept hopping way over to the middle…

Maybe he was dropped there by a predator and was taking cover under the bottom railing…

Maybe he’s been living up here on the deck forever and I just haven’t ever seen him before…

After a few minutes I was no closer to an answer and the dogs were still hungry, so I decided to let him be. Leaving him where I found him but also realizing that I was in a better mood. I was smiling as I stepped inside.  My Kermit time had left me without any real answers but feeling much more relaxed.

Getting outside and being in nature is one of the ways I often recommend to clients to combat stress.  One reason it’s so effective is it allows your brain to release the issues and tasks it was working on and just roam freely. We call it daydreaming or being in a state of wonder. This shift actually gives your brain the chance to recharge. By the way, in that state (called default mode network), it also gets to work on processes that allow us to know ourselves better. Win – win!

Yes, I did eventually look up how far a frog can jump (in some cases 7 feet) and it’s now part of my repertoire of weird facts for cocktail parties.  More importantly, by not automatically accepting a frog was up on the second story I gave myself a little respite.  Putting my inquisitiveness to work, I had a chance to shake off the day and feel better. Next time something strikes you as odd, instead of letting it slide by, allow your curiosity to create an opportunity for well-being.

#Wonder #Nature #MeetMaple #LowerYourStress

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Christine is a consultant, coach and collaborator. Her vision is a tool to nudge people towards the insights that are just out of reach; connecting their deeper thoughts and truest selves to make big leaps forward.

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