I was browsing through Powell’s a few weeks ago when I came across a book that caught my eye: Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life by Todd Kashdan. I’m not one for fluffy self-help books, but this book is more than that – it’s based on the science of curiosity.
I think that we are all curious by nature, but it is far too easy to let the demands of daily life squeeze the curiosity out of us – we’ve got too much to do, so it’s hard to justify exploring new ideas, new hobbies, new people. I’m at a point in my life where I am trying to maximize my ability to pursue curiosities whenever they arise, so I’m interested to hear what this book has to say since it claims to explain the science behind curiosity, and how embracing curiosity might lead to a more fulfilling life.
The graphic above was inspired by a section in the first chapter of Kashdan’s book. There are a couple of messages here – one is embracing the unknown; another is being mindful enough to experience the present in a meaningful way. I think I am pretty good at embracing the unknown, but the second idea struck a chord with me. I can spend a lot of time thinking about the future – what work I need to get done by the end of the day, what errands I need to run that evening, what I want to do with my life. A certain amount of thinking about the future is absolutely necessary – we have to plan ahead, schedule meetings and social gatherings, plan trips. etc. But we run the danger of thinking about the future (or the past) so much that we fail to appreciate and benefit from what is going on during the only time we ever actually have – the present. And it is only when you are tuned into the present that your curiosity has the chance to take hold and lead you into new (and potentially rewarding) territory.