Healthy minds grow from curiosity more than knowledge.
When we’re curious, we become child-like. Notice I say “child-like” not “childish.” We see the world with wonder, openness. We become less self-conscious and welcome what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called “flow.” What a wonderful place to be! Flow. Like going down to the river and swimming with the current.
In the river, we are “in process.” We are experiencing, living, doing, and being versus being “done” or “finished.” In other words, we’re present. Because we are in the now, we can relax without agendas, to-do lists, or ceaseless thoughts about our past experiences.
Sometimes we create dams in our lives, places where we block the natural flow of life. Dams get built for many reasons – avoidance of pain being near the top of the list. Fear of vulnerability is another. We fear exposure which we cover up by insisting on formal knowledge to back up our observations and opinions. We don’t give ourselves permission to offer a solution unless we have the letters “Ph.D.” after our name.
The cost of the dam is hard to measure. Holding it up and plugging the holes takes effort. It takes energy away from living a fuller life – a life fully loved – by focusing on “dam maintenance” as opposed to diving into the river.
Knowledge plays an important role in life. We need to share commonly accepted facts about the world in which we live if we want humankind to thrive. The earth is round. The sky is blue. 2 + 2 = 4. My point?
Curiosity drives knowledge.
It’s Leonardo da Vinci asking, “How can I fly like a bird?” before drawing his Flying Machine in 1490, centuries before we actually took flight in modern airplanes. It’s Carl Jung asking, “What unites us as humans?” and concluding it’s the collective unconscious. Curiosity is the question that leads to knowledge.
Eventually we learn growth isn’t always linear. It’s circular and tangential. It involves leaps of faith, meaning involvement of the heart and soul, not just the mind. Curiosity is the bridge to taking that leap of faith. Growth happens organically when we unplug our fingers from the holes in our dam. When we let the river wash over us. So, the question is, How do we remove the dam?
Removing the dam starts with getting present. I’ve provided a few ways to get present in my blogs. Click here for more on this topic and here for an exercise to get present. As discussed earlier, approaching new situations in a child-like way helps too.
Another way is movement. Getting out of your head and into your body is a great way to get in the moment. After 24 years of yoga, I am finally (!) learning that the whole point of yoga is relax my body so I can relax my restless mind so I can focus on the here-and-now. Savasana is not about creating to-do lists to complete after class – I am 100% sure you know exactly what I mean – but about emptying my mind of thought. Focusing on a key word like “peace” and drawing it in the mind’s eye helps when my mind wanders.
River photo by Jairo Gallegos on Unsplash, Dam photo by Monjur Hasan on Unsplash