Becoming Curious

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Back in March I wrote about curiosity (read it here). Turns out, I find this thirst for knowledge and novelty so compelling, that I decided to write about it again. Yet, not from the perspective of reading, nor the book Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It by Ian Leslie (although, you should definitely read this book and, if so, why not rent it with Helium Books), but rather from the standpoint of becoming curious and how we control our attention.

💥 We are constantly colliding with new thoughts, ideas, and experiences, whether intentional or not. In fact, Americans read or hear 100,000 words per day! (The average number of words in a book is 90,000 by the way.) So, how do we weed out certain information that is irrelevant to us and only focus on information that is either intriguing or meaningful to our survival?

The answer lies in our ability to control our attention and in what we decide to pay attention to. Controlling attention is not passive, it requires action. At a high-level, becoming curious seems rather straightforward: just focus on something, try to learn about it, then, boom, you’re curious. But, unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

📑 There are a few prerequisites to becoming curious:

  1. Humility—acknowledging that you don’t know much at all (hard pill to swallow, but it’s true, we possess much less knowledge than we think, or care to admit)

  2. Be like Ms. Frizzle—we need to be willing to get messy and make mistakes

  3. Question everything, assume nothing—granted, this is a little extreme, but the idea is to remove all predispositions

With these three, we are well on our way to becoming curious.

Now, the last hurdle is to decide what we want to be curious about. Remember, we have oodles of information flying at us constantly. How do we pick and choose what we want to be curious about?

If you want my opinion on the matter, I would say that it doesn’t matter. If you crave novelty, want to become curious, and wish to begin the endless pursuit of knowledge then it shouldn’t matter what you want to learn more about. Curiosity itself should be the activity that we do for its own sake—because to experience curiosity is the main goal.

This is how we begin to control our attention. Fulfilling the prerequisites above, then honing in on the subject of choice (again, it can be anything!) and beginning to learn about it.

With that, you're ready to begin the adventure of discovery!

A quote from my past blog post:

“Without actively searching for new experiences, we don’t collide with any new ideas and learn anything—we don’t build up our database of knowledge. [Ian] Leslie argues that it’s this database of knowledge that is the driving force of curiosity. Knowledge loves knowledge. Without this search for novelty, you will never know what you don’t know and won’t be able to identify any knowledge gaps, which could spark you wanting to learn more about a person, or a subject. You become incurious...

But if you seek out learning, which again is an active process, you will lay the very foundation of curiosity which will launch you into the world of the unknown. Who knows what you will discover there."

Becoming curious is absolutely tremendous. It quite literally opens the door to amazement, to wonder, to a yearning and craving for more life. Along this journey of curiosity you’ll find even the most mundane intriguing.

Life is better when you become curious.

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