You’re on a hike, taking in the beauty around you. Just as you turn a corner on the path, a bird lands gently on a tree branch near your shoulder. Your attention is immediately focused and you become curious. Curious as to what the bird’s experience of life is like. Curious about that particular species of bird. Curious about the confluence of situations that all led to this encounter. Curious enough to stop and maybe even talk to the bird.
Why did you do that? Why did the moment pique your curiosity? Why did your experience not pique the curiosity of a hiker a half a mile back that had a similar one?
Curiosity is a powerful experience that we are still trying to understand. Why does it happen? Why it doesn’t it get activated for some people or in some situations? Can we increase our curiosity? But what we do know is that curiosity is critical to a well-lived life. It is a doorway to novel experiences, which our brains love. It is often present and a driver during important life-altering moments – moments where we make significant decisions that shape the story of our lives.
Curiosity can rigger self-knowledge and transformation
There is, however, another important way curiosity enriches our lives. It is often the trigger for self knowledge and transformation? Just like the bird landing on the tree branch, we experience thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and experiences that can pique are interest in our reactions, responses, and behaviors. Curiosity can then become a metaphorical “hand on the shoulder” that says, “Take a look at that thought, or this feeling, or that sensation. Why do you think that’s happening? What can this teach you? What should you do about it?”