Updated: Jul 22, 2019
Written by Jeff Taylor, MAC, LPC
Recently there was an adorable two-year-old little boy in my office. He was wearing a cardinal’s cap (tilted to the side of course), an almost constant smile and had bright blue eyes. Understandably he was nervous to be in this new environment, so I quickly called him by name and told him I loved his baseball cap. We were clearly becoming fast friends because he walked over and handed me the prized possession he had been holding for a while--a soggy Cheez-It. After genuinely thanking him, he mumbled something I interpreted as a thank-you and proceeded to lean casually on my leg to peruse his new surroundings that were clearly quite ripe for exploration. I pointed a few things out I thought might be of interest. He rejected the first two, but was interested in the third, a set of magnets.
So. Off he went filled with excitement to survey this new frontier. The joy he was experiencing was contagious. On several occasions he returned to show me an amazing treasure that clearly needed to be shared. He would allow me to hold it for a second, so I could see it up close, but then it needed to be returned so he could share it with others.
I found myself back in the classroom learning from an amazing teacher, that was educating me by example, about the pure joy that comes from exploration. It made me think of a simple question.
What am I exploring in my life?
It reminded me that neural pathways are created through new experiences. Einstein attributed both his success and intelligence to this important trait of curiosity. Having curiosity has been shown to increase satisfaction in all areas of life. It decreases anxiety and improves achievement. We need to be explorers, not just when we are two but throughout our entire life.
Let’s be clear. Curiosity does not mean you have to climb a mountain or go skydiving. Curiosity starts with being a caring observer. What I loved about my two-year-old teacher was his exploration for all things that were new. How often do we walk past things that are unfamiliar to settle for what is familiar? What if tomorrow you dedicated the day to curiosity? You drove a different way to get to work. Ate totally different food. Rode your bike. Learned a new song. Read a book on a totally new topic. There a hundred things each day we can do to explore. What a gift.
Truly being wise means living life as a learner.
Here are two questions to ask both yourself and others:
Who did you love today?
What did you learn today?
Think about what would happen for each of us if we had a long wonderful answer to those questions each day. When you wake up in the morning, start with a simple word that will open amazing new doors and provide opportunities to meet incredible people. Simply ask: