Curiosity drives action, including learning. Here are some intentional exercises that help to develop and strengthen curiosity:
- Look closely and carefully at any object. Think of the infinite causes and conditions that preceded you and the object coming face to face. Marvel.
- Look closely and carefully at any object. Consider the many minds behind it. Wonder.
- A favorite of mine (because I like libraries and reading): Browse the shelves. (I like the new book shelf.) Look for titles that DO NOT interest you. Wonder to yourself: What could possibly be so interesting about this subject that someone would write an entire book about it? Read the book to find out.
- Buy a magazine (download an e-zine?) on an unfamiliar topic. Read it and find 10 immediate applications of whatever you learn. Write them down.
- Here’s a great one that also fosters understanding among people: When you hear an opinion that differs significantly from yours, become curious. “I wonder what that person perceives or believes to make them say (think, believe) that?” Become open.
- Practice saying, “That’s interesting.” This can also help quiet a judgmental mind. That’s interesting.
- Use the word “and” when you would normally use the word “but.” This can create interesting new combinations. See what you get.
- Spend a day noticing what you don’t usually notice. Be amazed at how much you don’t often notice.
- Think carefully about an action you normally do habitually. Brushing your teeth is a good one. Smile.
- Sit and see (hear, feel, sense, think) what happens when you become quiet and still. Even for a few minutes. Experience.
- Eat a piece of fruit. Taste the sun that nurtured it. See the fruit transforming from “orange” to “you.” Build yourself.
- Look at a painting. Try to imagine which brush stroke was the artist’s last. Voila!
- Look at a work of art. Realize that you are now standing where the artist once stood. Wonder what you would do or say if the artist were present.
- If you find yourself having trouble becoming curious about something, become curious about that! “I wonder why I am not feeling curious.”
- Wonder when this list is going to end. It’s over! Wait! There’s more…
If you were able to play along, you now see that every aspect of our existence, without exception, can be the object of our curiosity. And every aspect of our existence, if simply touched by our awareness and attention, can be the source of uplifting and energizing amazement. And learning.
Practicing curiosity, rather than waiting for it to arise, strengthens this state of mind. With more practice, it becomes a habit. With more practice, it becomes a way of being. With more practice, it disappears.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning,” said Albert Einstein.
Have you practiced the intentional development of curiosity? Are you willing to try? (Curious?) What is your experience?