I read an article 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
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