"Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will."
-- James Stephens
Perhaps the single most overlooked attribute that has the potential to transform a life is curiosity. An inborn trait that defines us as small children; it is through our eagerness to explore, desire to understand and to know our world and ourselves that predicts our capacity to learn, change and adapt. Our social network and the depth of the relationships within that network exist in proportion to our curiosity. Like most human attributes, our capacity for curiosity is developmental, which means that it will grow given the proper conditions.
Curiosity is the seed of wonder in us and provides the easiest doorway to a positive outlook. It requires our full presence, and like a good friend will guide our attention with high quality awareness and questions. Many of us had this gift squelched too early to even notice it was gone. Nothing kills curiosity faster than disapproval and fear. If the messages we grow up hearing mostly started with "don't," our curiosity goes underground. When we are not safe to wonder, to question, to get dirty looking for answers we close off to much of the world.
A mind run by fear of disapproval and loneliness is a trap that literally slows down the thinking capacity. Like the hamster on a wheel, when our minds turn inward away from the vast possibility of life, it is easy to get caught in repetitive and unhealthy thoughts. Instead of seeking out new people and new ideas, our minds close off and slowly shut down to the wonder of being alive. Boredom is a symptom that describes a mind that has no way to reach beyond itself.
Lacking curiosity over time is how we lose access to our imagination. We accept any and all forms of projected entertainment to fill in the time. Curiosity is active and makes you want to do and discover. It is wholly unlike the millions of wasted hours that we collectively spend in front of a screen, passively participating in life as it is handed to us. Worse still, is that spending our time passively does little to prepare us for the changes that life exacts. If you can't be curious or imagine your life differently, then our response to change is also stuck.
One of the places where our lacking curiosity takes the biggest toll is in our sexual lives. Too many of us are so terrified to open up to new worlds and possibilities in the mystery of our sexuality that our fear actually shuts down the libido all together. We long for sexual excitement and accept the packaged goods ready for easy download online rather than risk taking action and trying out new behaviors in our body, or even asking questions of our intimate partners. Without curiosity, we become numb, which explains the epidemic of people who cannot feel anything sexually. The key to this dilemma begins with cultivating a mind in full presence and practicing curiosity. Opening up to possibility, just even wondering about it will surprise you with the opportunities for more sexual satisfaction that exist in our own bedrooms.
Choosing to become more curious in any area in life will have positive benefits in all areas. Practicing the art of opening the mind while staying present whether in a new city or in a long standing intimate conflict will change the landscape in front of you. Start asking yourself why and why not when you hit a road block. Seek out and experiment with new flavors and scents, take time to really process the sensations on your tongue or in your nose. Stay curious in the experience until you can trace the new neural pathways opening in your brain. Scent and taste are some of the most visceral experiences we can trace that will wake up your brain in other areas. Dare yourself to get active doing something new next time you are bored. Find the small things around you that make you wonder.