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Can You Escape Your Cave?

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave he teaches us to question every assumption we have about the reality we call “real.” The power of his message was encouraging a way to develop the skill of thinking for yourself and discovering your own unique solutions to any problem.

“See human beings as though they were in an underground cave-like dwelling with its entrance, a long one, open to the light across the whole width of the cave.  They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only The Wall in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their head all the way around.” ~ Plato

When you trust no one life is hard. When you deceive yourself of your own truth you lose connection to your intuition. This results in a life and the life of those you influence filled with worry and fear. We all become habituated to certain roles and beliefs in life, bound by invisible chains that keep us from some turning our heads and minds in another direction.

Rather than focusing energy on blame or a feeling of superior beliefs, can we embrace curiosity? Look at great discoveries that advanced our condition. The wheel, electricity, and penicillin just to name a few. Were these advancements the result of a mind entrenched in annoyed complaints or judgement of others? Can young minds develop to further advance our race and experience in an environment fed by pained annoyance? Or a feeling of superiority?

When I examine the life of people who’s energy and spirit seem to breathe life and grow almost effortlessly. They are like the plants that simply live off of air no soil or water needed. I see people who embrace wonder and curiosity, they talk about ideas and experiences not people. What they impart I want to be more like they add to our pool of knowledge and resilience.

Our greatest scientists and inventors had curiosity coursing through their veins. Curiosity leads to tolerance, noncritical attitudes, unconventional thinking, and yes even duct tape! A personal favorite invention of mine.

Consider a world where we can hold our differences and still be one; you, me, us. Have you considered the benefits of engaging in the world as a curious observer seeking wonder? Creating an environment that fosters a love of learning and a hunger to know more.

By remaining in our caves and chained to past roles, beliefs and solutions we are being taught to fear and worry and that we cannot grow and expand the world for ourselves or anyone else. If we study and contemplate for ourselves and discovered our own unique solutions to any challenges we face, can you imagine the possibilities, the potential that could be unleashed!

Knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion, in order to have real knowledge, we must gain it through philosophical reasoning. And that reasoning needs to be gained through our own journey of wonder and curiosity, not from the shadows in a cave, chained and bound through our own complicit imprisonment. Venture out risk the sights of a new world, go on an intellectual journey and discover beauty and meaning by thinking for yourself, not what others tell you is reality. You will be reluctant to go back once you adjust to the light outside of the cave.

“Your thoughts have the power to control; our being, our emotions, and the way we view the world that surrounds us. If you don’t constantly re-think what you think of on a daily basis, how do you ever expect to evolve into a being of; wisdom, truth, understanding, love, and above all, to be there for others?”

― Martin R. Lemieux

Can you see the picture through the pixels?

I read an articlepixel online of the top 20 fake news stories in 2016 and how they out performed real news stories. As I read through the list I recognized several stories I recognized from social media postings. I thought about how I am wired with regard to this type of situation. I treat everything I see or read as a single data point then I look for more data so I can develop a hypothesis or conclusion. It’s how we are trained as engineers, we have to look at all the data available to provide a practical approach to solve a problem.  Ergo each story I read is just one pixel in a picture made up of millions of pixels. If you look at one pixel you really cannot tell what the picture is and that pixel may mislead you to believe the picture is something vastly different from the reality.

I feel there is a considerable amount of distortion going on through social media. We see these titillating pixels and even though it is just one teeny pixel we decide we know the picture. This approach lacks curiosity!  The great accomplishments and innovations over the millennia are thanks to curiosity. Curiosity is engaged innocent observation. Curiosity is fun! When we are curious and seeking solutions it’s a powerful and delightful quest. There is no ego attached to curiosity, we have to be present and open when we are engaged in a curiosity crusade. When we are curious and not attached to ego the search and observation is for edification or problem solving not proving you right or someone else wrong. Curiosity allows room for discussion of differing ideas without the need for hateful communication or insults. Curiosity can make the most ordinary task exciting and a potentially cantankerous subject intriguing and enjoyable.

I recommend that we all engage and exercise our curiosity muscle, it will enhance our well-being, our humanity and our happiness. So remember the next pixel you see is just a wee bit of the big picture that awaits you.

Curiosity is one of the greatest secrets to happiness ~ Bryant H. McGill


Whoa check this out!!!

I find it so interesting the mixed messages we receive in life and from the most well-meaning and well-intentioned sources too.  Curiosity is one of those traits that we seem to have a love-hate relationship with, it is both celebrated and rewarded, yet it can also be feared and punished.

We have all heard the saying curiosity killed the cat, yet Albert Einstein was a fervent believer in the power of curiosity, one of his famous quotes, “I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious.”  I love his description of his gift as passionately curious.

I was sharing with a trusted advisor that I want to focus on bringing more joy and happiness to others through a mission at work I call the Bucket Brigade.  I am enlisting others at my office to commit to filling other’s buckets at work.   Bucket filling is a concept I learned from reading the book “How Full is Your Bucket?”   The basic idea is that everyone carries an invisible bucket and when you spread good feelings, hugs, compliments, and love, you fill others buckets, when you criticize, complain, or condemn you are dipping in other’s buckets.  Also when you fill other’s buckets your bucket is filled, when you dip in other’s buckets your bucket is also emptied.

She encouraged me to crank up my curiosity through all of this.  Curiosity  is an amazing thing, it is another way to expand your universe.  She explained when faced with dilemma, disappointment or conflict you generally have a couple of ways to respond, with anxiety or curiosity.  Truthfully there is a mixture of both, but the secret during those times, she said, and what I am trying to do, is crank up my curiosity faucet and turn down my anxiety faucet.

She explained to me how curiosity will naturally allow more room for bucket filling.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  Think about a time when things did not go your way, maybe plans did not work out or someone responded in a way you did not expect.  How did you feel?  Frustrated, impatient, hurt, defensive?  Next time stop in your tracks and ask yourself what would happen if I see where this leads?  That’s right expand your horizon.  If you have already gone down the road of frustration, impatience, hurt and defensiveness, what about curiously exploring another path. 

I love the idea of responding with curiosity.  It feels like being child-like again.  I was watching my kids playing with the neighborhood kids this weekend and was so struck by their unfettered curiosity.  They discovered many things together, a strange new bug, an interesting cocoon, the variety of leaves in the yard and we all collected a sample of each one.  I realized how curiosity is instinctual, and through programming, conditioning and most of all ego, our tendency is to minimize our own and other’s curiosity. 

Curiosity is another way to expand our lives and in a good way.  No one wants to get excited about an expanding waistline or behind, but we all can get behind expanding our lives.  I have really experienced such profound expansion in my life over the last two years, thankfully of the latter and not the former kind, that I am very aware and present to my own experience of contraction or witnessing contraction in others.  It makes me sad to see others in a spiral of contraction and it makes me feel uneasy to be in my own contraction. 

Think of it this way, when you are bit by contraction think of it as a poisonous snake and think of curiosity as the antidote.  Many people are uncomfortable with too much positivity or over the top niceties, at times it doesn’t feel genuine or authentic, but curiosity is hard to fake, and it accomplishes so much.

I asked my son, what do you think curiosity means?  He said it’s someone who is always asking questions?  I thought about that and how wonderful that is to respond to life with questions instead of thinking we already have the answers.

“Curiosity endows the people who have it with a generosity in argument and a serenity in their own mode of life which springs from their cheerful willingness to let life take the form it will.”  – Alistair Cooke

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