By Wendy McDonnell
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Watch a child examine a bug for the first time. What do you see? Wide eyes looking closely, touching, tasting, and asking “what’s that?” or “what does it do?” Curiosity is an emotion growing out of a need for exploration, investigation, and learning. We see it in many animals including humans. It’s an alert, energized state we experience when we want to learn more about something. Curiosity is stimulated by something new, a puzzle, a riddle, a provocative question, and a desire to understand. In that moment, nothing else matters but connection and understanding. When that happens to me, I feel secure, playful, creative, energized, and fascinated. Do you?
Curiosity is easy when we experience something interesting and something we enjoy. What about those times when we don’t enjoy what we’re hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, or even thinking about? Without curiosity, we can feel frustrated, dreadful, angry, afraid, or insecure. I learned that our left mind analyzes the past, is fearful of the future, and has a tendency to be redundant. When we are judging right from wrong, analyzing, and making sense of the world, it is our left mind that is helping us out. Curiosity, on the other hand, is a matter of attitude and choice. When we are curious, our right brain is engaged. Our right mind is adventurous, celebrates abundance, and brings new insights when old beliefs and behaviours no longer serve us.
Hard to believe? I used to think so too. Then I learned that if I choose curiosity and understanding, I could change the way I responded, inviting others to feel curious too, and create new solutions that moved me past fear and anger. The more I do that, the more I want to learn ways to do it more! I have learned that it’s easier to do when I’m rested and have focused attention. When is it easier for you to feel creative and curious?
“I define responsibility (response-ability) as the ability to choose how we respond to stimulation coming in through our sensory systems at any moment in time. Although there are certain limbic system (emotional) programs that can be triggered automatically, it takes less than 90 seconds for one of these programs to be triggered, surge through our body, and then be completely flushed out of our blood stream…Once triggered, the chemical release by my brain surges through my body and I have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over. If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.” “We have the power to chose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world.” Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Here’s your challenge for this week: What would it take for you to feel curious and playful about yourself, your world, and the people around you? How would you shift to a state of curiosity in the face of discomfort, fear, or anger? Imagine talking to your left and right brains. What would each say?