We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.Walt Disney
Ever heard the expression “curiosity killed the cat”? Now if you have seen the shenanigans that cats get up to, this expression does not surprise me. The good news, however, is that they have nine lives so we do not need to spend too much time worrying about this. The great news is that if you are reading my blog, you are probably not a cat, so we are all good to go. Ah, in my previous post we learnt that you are also not a dog. See, we are already exploring new information and learning as we go.
What is all the hype?
Why is curiosity a strength? Any mother will tell you that curiosity is one of the main ways that young children learn. Like cats, it is also the thing that often gets them into trouble. Perhaps there is a cautionary tale in there somewhere, but I digress. Curiosity is a wonderful advocate for learning and expanding our minds. In the digital age that we live in, with Google on our phones, we have easy access to any questions we may be curious about. Sadly, many of us do not follow curiosity to its full potential.
Hello reality, Goodbye Curiosity
Albert Einstein once said, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education”. Sadly, in my experience as a counsellor, I have found this notion to be true. Many traditional forms of education, with their draconian approach to teaching, kills a child’s natural instincts for curiosity. Then the high-pressure expectations and overwhelming responsibilities of adult life put the nail in curiosity’s coffin.
Save the CURIOSITY!!
How do we combat this onslaught? How do we jump-start curiosity again? After all, the virtue we are breaking down is wisdom and wisdom cannot be achieved without knowledge. Knowledge can not be obtained and nurtured without curiosity. It simply cannot. If you restrict your learning to that of school or that of university or college, you have a limited knowledge base to draw on. How does the information you use for work stimulate your imagination or drive your passions? Hence why hobbies are so beneficial because they broaden your interest scope. Hang on there, you do not have to take pottery classes just yet. Curiosity is another way to achieve the same intrinsic rewards and can be considerably more cost-effective.
So I have been tooting the laurels of curiosity, but what is it really? I am tempted to say, it is whatever you want it to be and then wish you happy trails. That would be seriously lazy writing, so let me try to explain curiosity without killing its magic myself. Ah the pressure. Here we go…
Seriously, what is it?
The official definition is the emotional excitement of exploring which is crucial to human survival and ultimately leads to wellbeing and intellectual solutions. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Liz, you said this was not going to get boring. Hold your horses, that is just the official definition. What curiosity really is, is exploring the unknown with enthusiasm. It is about getting lost and being happy about it. Unlike the love of learning, where you take a topic you are already interested in and deepening your understanding, curiosity is about the new and unknown.
Make the New your favourite thing
In Winnie the Pooh, Tigger is the best example of curiosity. If you know anything about Tigger, I am sure you have a hyperactive, care-free character in mind. This is true, but his carefree approach to life makes him more flexible and excitable about new things. In fact, in the face of new things, his response is always, “That is what Tiggers like best” (Milne, 2007). Alas, not everything turns out well for him in the end. That is curiosity for you. Not everything you try is going to be great, but it is going to be a learning experience. Also, failed experiments make for the best stories.
Failure to stop the launch
My husband and I were curious about the urban legend involving Mentos and coke. We were bored okay. There may or may not have been alcohol involved in this decision. Anyway, since we did not have coke, we thought Coke Zero is close enough. We dropped the first mentos in and nothing happened. So in our ‘wisdom’, we tossed in the whole tube.
It is impossible to explain the full extent of the explosion that occurred. We were drenched, but what is more, it took days to fully clean the kitchen. It took weeks to get rid of the ants that followed. Occasionally, you would find a random sticky section. Even in the lounge and hallway, your foot would just suddenly stick to the floor. Then you would remember, “ah, the coke experiment”.
The ceiling was particularly challenging to clean. In the end, we had to repaint it … twice. First coat the paintbrush would stick to the roof. It is funny now because we moved out of that house and sticky floors are now the new owner’s problem – just kidding. We still laugh about it today, and will definitely not be repeating that experiment inside the house EVER again.
COVID restrictions make exploring difficult, but not impossible. I urge you to take the road not travelled. Explore new foods, or try new hobbies if you want or even explore the internet – safely. Do not wait for new things to drop into your lap. Actively go out in search of the unknown. You never know what you might discover. You might even stumble onto the North Pole by accident as Winnie the Pooh did during one of his famous ‘expotitions’.
Have fun and Good-luck.