I’m living proof that curiosity can influence our wellbeing.
No doubt we have all had encounters where we feel threatened. It could involve colleagues at work, family members, parenting or other personal conflicts. It’s part of life.
Irritation, anger, resentment and even self-judgment are some of the many feelings that can arise. Never comfortable.
If we can stay curious and therefore open (as opposed to closed) it may be the differentiating factor. Space is needed in our minds to realise there are multiple perspectives.
We might ask questions to clarify misunderstandings before we jump to conclusions. A more balanced response may then ensue.
The framing and reframing of this mindset, as opposed to being automatically judgmental about circumstances (also inflicted on ourselves) can contribute to staying balanced and afloat.
It could be as simple as a reminder to be curious. Then take a deep breath and pause. This mindset shift can relay to us why we react and behave in certain ways. Then we have a bigger context to draw upon and our actions can follow suit.
Curiosity is a habit to develop over time
Curiosity is one of the pillars of an online yoga program that I’ve been offering. It was natural for me to include it because it has made such an impact in my own life.
When I learned this from one of my yoga teachers a few years ago, it was like the penny dropped. He explained how we can loosen the grip on intensity and return to how a young child might approach something with an open mind (and heart).
It is a habit to develop over time and it takes practice. We can be curious about our breath, our movements, our body and mind and this can have flow on effect to other parts of our life too.
This was especially appealing because intensity has got in the way of some pursuits in my life. My health included. You may relate in some way.
Even with advantages of attaining higher degrees and professional roles, I have ended up exhausted with burn out from the intensity.
Sometimes the laser focus and single mindedness got to the tipping point. This nervous system exhaustion has contributed to mental health challenges so I now remind myself to approach life with curiosity.
Researchers are finding positive associations with curiosity and this is promising. Our brain chemistry literally changes when we have that mindset. We are more creative, better problem solvers, we are able to learn easier and our memory improves.
Brene Brown, researcher and author (and one of my all-time favorite people) shares that ‘rigorous curiosity and reflection’ are her most trusted allies in life. I too have taken this approach.
Even when I teach yoga, I catch myself from being overly intense about the practice. I reframe my mind and then literally loosen up! I remind those I teach to give the body a wiggle, shake, flick and let go of tension. Then stability and strength are the natural result.
Maybe developing a habit pattern to be curious could be an essential component of our wellbeing.
Try it and see what transpires for you.
 Matthias J. Gruber, Bernard D. Gelman, Charan Ranganath. States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit. Neuron, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060