Our days are marked by transition. The sun comes up. The sun goes down. We change out of our work clothes and into our pajamas. We eat something different for lunch.
Each day, our bodies are remade as cells die and others are born. The natural environment changes before our eyes when a spider stretches her web between rhododendron leaves, or the slow drip from the gutter nurtures a little patch of soil allowing a wildflower to grow.
This is the nature of life. It’s fascinating and dynamic and yet we cuss it and complain about it and worry about the changes that may come. We hold tight to what we know, and worry about what’s ahead.
This position keeps us stuck. We never apply for our dream job because we’re afraid we might fail. We don’t go back to school, or get the divorce, or tell the guy that we love him, because we are afraid of what comes next. We don’t talk about death or stay close to our dying loved ones because we are afraid too, of not knowing what will happen or how we’ll cope.
Yet, these things happen – anyhow. The sun always sets, before rising again. You can either accept this, participate, and live, and learn and move, or you can stay stuck in denial and rooted in the status quo.
No transition is easy, but dang, if you’re paying attention and learning and growing and seeking the meaning and wisdom that is contaned within every experience, you’re going to do pretty good with no matter what comes. Curiosity turns transition into a quest. It becomes an adventure. A chance to learn and meet people, develop new skills and have new experiences. Curiosity fosters engagement. When we are curious we participate in the dynamic process of change — instead of getting stuck and caught up in the what-ifs of it all.
Curiosity is the thing that gets you out the door, even though you are now living in a new neighborhood. And pretty soon, you’ve lost track of how tough the transition is because you are too busy living it.
How to Act Curious
What’s that? You say you are not a curious person? Well, become one. Or at least fake it until you feel better. Everybody has some innate curiosity but the rest can be strengthened.
Here’s are 3 ways:
1. Take in something new and novel. I did a new cardio machine at the gym today. I was scared. About fell off because I couldn’t get my legs churning with the pedals. But I kept at it. Paid attention and by the end of the 30 minutes I OWNED that thing. Doing something new, made a dull workout interesting and time passed quickly. And let me tell you what, I’m all for time passing quickly at the gym.
Novelty does not require you to do crazy things like climb mountains or eat crickets, but it does encourage you to do things differently. Try something you haven’t tried before: a new exercise, a new ingredient, a new salon, or route home. When we switch up our routine a bit, we discover new opportunities and intrigues everywhere, that makes us even more curious.
2. Question what you don’t know. As adults we often want to be seen as the experts, after all we waited 30 years (some of us a bit more) to be the one in charge, in the know. But, vitality and resilience come when you are willing to learn about what you don’t know. If you are reading and come across a word you don’t know, look it up. If a freind says they’re travelling to Cozumel, find out where that is. If you child’s third grade math homework is too tough for you to handle (maybe that’s just me) then learn along with him how to solve the equations. Explore the answers to the questions that come up in life rather than letting them go. Not only will this kind of curiosity make life changes more interesting, it will lead you toward some of your greatest passions.
3. Do the thing that feels exhilarating — and a little scary. There is a fine line between exhilaration and anxiety, but when you take on the thing you’ve always wanted to do, you’ll feel a rush. Inspiration usually follows. Then there is room for creativity and innovation. If you’ve wanted to write, or ski, or work for a non-profit, or act, the best way to manage change is to take it on. Of course there will be fear and the anxiety that comes with doing something different. The discomfort that comes with change. But when you are driven by a curiosity to see what something is like, or to know something you don’t know, or to experience something you never have, that fear will be tempered by exhilaration and a rush of energy will carry you forward.
This is the best kind of change.