“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence.”
― Bernard Beckett, Writer
As a child, the utterance of this one-syllable word stirs the beginning of adventure, into a rabbit-hole of possibilities. Why is the sky blue? Why do some people have curly hair? Why do the leaves change colour, why do we have ten toes, why do some of us read from left to right, and some from right to left?
Then, at some moment along our journey towards adulthood, this word begins to dwindle from our vocabulary. For many of us, our attention begins to veer towards more important grown-up things in the worlds of what, how, when and where - like earning a living, exercising more, looking after family, and all the countless things we are apparently supposed to effortlessly breeze into as a respectable adult human being.
Curiosity, that bringer of discovery, joy and wonder, gets tossed into the glovebox, occasionally spotted, given a wistful glance, and then forgotten again on the drive to somewhere more important.
To survive, we need to provide ourselves (and our loved ones) with the basic physical needs: food, water, shelter.
To thrive, however, we need more than this. We need a sense of purpose, growth, connection. We want to know that we matter, and we want to feel seen. There’s an urge to be part of a bigger picture.
To thrive, we need to invite curiosity back into our lives - about why we do what we do, why we make the choices we make, and why these choices matter. A lot.
For some of us, it might feel like all of our energy is used simply to survive. We cease to ‘indulge’ in the things that might light us up, because we don’t have time for it.
We all have 24 hours in a day. We have choice, each moment, about how we spent this precious currency.
Asking ‘why’ does not mean carving hours out of your day; it is a reframing of your thoughts and behaviours, to bring more clarity, compassion and joy to the time you have.
Here’s how you can start inviting more curiosity into your days.
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AN INVITATION TO CURIOSITY
1. Start Within : Finding Self-knowledge
Svadhyaya, or self-study, is one of the Niyamas, and a core principle in the eight-limbed path from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. ‘Know Thyself’ is a phrase used extensively in Plato’s teachings. The understanding of self is where curiosity begins, because to meet the world, we need to first know where we stand.
You are the foremost experts on your own consciousness - if you dare to delve in and explore.
It can be a daunting terrain within. Maybe, like many of us, you find the landscape full of expectations and voices that tell us we are not enough.
Not successful enough.
Not caring enough.
Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not good enough as a parent/sister/child/husband/friend. Not deserving of this job/house/relationship.
Whose voices are you listening to?
Bring your curiosity within, and sit with these voices. Even for a moment. Acknowledge what they are saying. And become aware that they are the waves, and you are a swimmer among them. Climb out of the stream of consciousness so you can observe, learn, and ask: ‘Why?’
A 3 minute meditation, simply being quiet and still, can offer rejuvenation and clarity. Find curiosity on the train, as you walk, while making a cup of tea.
Knowledge of your own truth takes time, patience, and often, a lot of courage in turning inward. Yet the ability to stand tall in this truth unlocks a kind of inherent wisdom, and a key to self-confidence. With this confidence comes the courage to question our surroundings.
2. Explore Context : Noticing your surroundings
We are surrounded by objects, places, and people. How much do you notice about them? How much do you understand about them?
It’s often startling how much we take for granted. How much we don’t know about the journey that an apple, a comb, or a desk lamp takes en-route to you. What little credit we give to the vehicle that takes us safely from A to B, or the magic of having running water all around us.
Ask questions about where an object comes from.
How is it created? Who made it? If you purchased the item, who receives the financial energy from the transaction?
You may find things you did not expect, and bring immense gratitude for what you already have. It might shift the way you make choices about what you eat, how you shop, how you interact with the things, spaces, and people around you.
Yes, there is infinite information available at our fingertips - Wikipedia or Google is only a few taps away, and is an invaluable resource for discovery.
But better yet, start a conversation - with a friend, your colleague, your classmates, your barista. Encourage them to be curious too. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by how much experience and knowledge resides within those around you. And you know what? They’ll probably feel the same about you.
3. Connect the Dots : Amplifying your perspective
Curiosity can often veer us in the right direction, and to truly follow it, we must step forward, into the rabbit hole, and be active in treading the path.
Always wanted to try life drawing, practice your hand at gardening, or connect with local book lovers? Join a MeetUp.
Keen to make the most of your lunch hour? Recruit a friend and head outside for fresh air, watch the dogs, the people, the trees, and gather inspiration for your curious self!
Want to be more involved in the community? Visit your local library or city council. There are usually a plethora of ways you can lend a hand and have your say.
Curiosity is the playful little sister of creativity. It is a practice of connecting the dots, and spotting the relationships between seemingly unrelated things, stories, people.
Each of us has a unique biography, specific skills, and individual interests that guide our dharma, or life purpose. What we will notice will be utterly unique, and important.
Establish the connection between your internal landscape and your environment, by bringing attention to how and why you respond to certain situations. Follow the threads of your curiosity, notice what you can see that others may not, and start to make little changes and choices that can shift the trajectory of your life - and the lives of those around you.
OUR ETHOS : CURIOSITY FOR CHANGE
Knowledge brings Power.
Power brings Choice.
Choice brings Change.
Change for the better, for Earth and for Humanity.
At Bhumi, our key Ethos rests on a foundation of curiosity, and hope - for a more conscientious, more connected world. It is a journey that takes practice, each and every day. We are stepping into our day with curiosity and courage, to continue asking the challenging questions, and making the choices that help us all thrive.
Such journeys are best shared, and we are glad to have you beside us.
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About the Author: Lucy Lawes is an advocate for mindful living.