It may not sound exciting, but those happy hours I spend in following my curiosity absolutely fuel my days, and, as recent scientific research has shown, cultivating curiosity is one of the keys to living a joy-filled life. I’m happy to share with you some of my thoughts on tuning into curiosity.
Embrace the New: When we encounter new things, our bodies naturally release dopamine, the neurotransmitter which activates the brain’s pleasure center. This is true for trying new foods, listening to new music, making new friends, and planting new seeds. Our innate capacity for adventure brings a sweet tingle through all our cells, and especially when we are enjoying the wonders of the natural world. Visiting nature with an open sense of curiosity, allows excitement and wonder and curiosity to course through us. It is incredibly healing medicine.
Change the Channels: So often in our days, when facing the unknown, we fall into worry. Curiosity—while often described as anxiety’s close cousin—meets the unexpected with joy instead of dread. Following your own sense of curiosity creates new pathways in the brain, increasing the number of neurons and neural connections. And in helping the brain remember that love of curiosity, which was certainly there in each of us as a child, we become flexible and resilient and regain our love of surprise.
Fresh Eyes: What’s incredible, however, is that we don’t have to wander far in order to cultivate curiosity. While it’s fascinating to see life from a different perspective by breaking out of our old routines, which happens so often for me when I travel, bringing curiosity into the everyday is also a thrill. I think you’ll be amazed what can happen when you set out for a short walk or even your daily commute with the intention of seeing something you have never noticed before. The world can seem to vibrate as we tune into curiosity and suddenly so much unseen beauty is revealed in our everyday lives.
Young at Heart: When we strive to learn something new every day, the heart stays active and the mind bright. We often associate the alertness and enthusiasm of curiosity with youth, but curiosity is something that we don’t have to give up as we grow older. In fact, quite the opposite, curiosity guards the mind against rigidity as we age.
Listening In: In a way, as with meditation and many mindfulness practices, practicing curiosity has an incredible ability to bring us closer to our own intuitions, and to finding our own inner guidance. We never know what we’ll find by listening in deeply and being willing to follow the heart into fascinating new realms. But that’s the point! When we stay curious, we may even discover the kind of rich happiness that breathes fresh meaning into life.