Why Not . . . Be Curious Instead of Certain? 9 Benefits for Living Everyday with Curiosity
Monday July 18, 2022

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My curiosity took me to Terrebonne over the weekend (a small town just a 30 minute drive from Bend, Oregon). My curiosity was captured due to my love of fresh seasonal flowers, and as I hadn’t had a bouquet such as this in my house for a while, I made time in my day on Sunday to drive down to the self-service flower stand and purchase a bouquet.

I didn’t know what I would find, but I did know the farmer (Roots Wild, who brings their flowers to Bend’s Farmer’s Market each Wednesday), so the risk wasn’t significant as their flowers are gorgeous, and the reward was quite grand. I ventured forth.

I got lost. I got lost again, but then I found the farmstand. And while it may have taken me more time than I had allotted in my morning, I discovered something I genuinely wanted to see and learn more about. Now, I have one more place to pick up fresh flowers, as well as one more way to support local farmers. I gained knowledge and I tickled my curiosity muscle and brightened my home for the upcoming week.

While this may seem a simple example of the benefits of being curious, what I would like to share with you today is how by making a simple shift in your thinking, from Certainty to Curiosity, you change the quality of your life, your everydays, for the better.

In small (a new flower stand!) and grand (learning from a culture different from our own that demonstrates how to live in harmony with an array of diversity), when we choose Curiosity, we give ourselves and the world at large a great gift, many gifts in fact.

Let’s take a look at the nine benefits of leading with a curious mind . . .

1. Your mind is open

Certainty closes the door to new experiences, new people, new ideas, new solutions, new possibilities never before considered. But when we choose to live with Curiosity, the door opens. A fresh air breathes through our days, and the unknowns of life carry an electric energy that enliven us encouraging us to explore rather than weigh us down in dread and fear.

Since we know we will always be traveling with ourselves, we invest in the tools that give us the best chance to present our true selves and engage in a way we are at peace with, and then we let the cards fall where they may. As we gain trust and understanding of ourselves, it becomes easier to keep an open mind and not force what we want to happen on the world, and paradoxically, more chances of beautiful outcomes become possible.

~Explore all of the tools to add to your Toolbox through your strengths and skills in detail in TSLL’s 2nd Book – Living The Simply Luxurious Life.


2. The ability to understand is made available because you have given yourself space to explore

Curiosity versus Certainty permits the possibility to change your mind, but, worry not, not the guarantee. In other words, by exploring other ideas, contrary opinions, anything that is not what you have found to be true thus far, doesn’t mean you will change your mind, but it lends the opportunity to deepen understanding, strengthen knowledge on a particular topic and build trust and credibility that you are willing to entertain new ideas, not a guarantee that you will accept them.

Internationally respected economist Martin Wolf shared in a recent interview with The Financial Times how and why he has changed his mind when it comes to economic theories over the past 50 years of his career. When asked the question Is changing your mind a sign of intellectual weakness?, Wolf shared the following:

“If you have formed your views by the age of twenty, and you have no reason ever to change them in the light of experience, there are two possibilities: (1) is that you are a bona fide genius who has worked out everything important about the world in childhood and early adulthood; in which case, I admire you immeasurably, but I am not you. And the other possibility is that you are paying no attention, in which case, in my view [regarding how to be alive and living in a constantly changing world that is full of information to discover], you’re not really alive. Certainly not intellectually or emotionally alive, and it’s equally obvious that no human being knows everything.”—Martin Wolf, British journalist and economist

There is often a fear by those that hold fast to Certainty, that to change our minds and project/share the change to others when we have for so long or so ardently professed a different opinion, that we will be dismissed, lose credibility, and while that may happen with the crowd that thought they had you in their ‘tribe’, what you are actually showing is your ability to think with an open mind, continue to learn, and that you are strong enough to acknowledge that new facts have come to life and to ignore them would actually be foolhardy and detrimental to one’s credibility not the opposite. I think Wolf demonstrates this truth beautifully above. As humans we can never know everything, and if you are holding fast to something with Certainty, we quickly discover there is an ulterior motive at play and not someone who is seeking truth.


3. A sense of peace fills your days, even with all of the unknowns

Curiosity places you in a position of engagement rather than a defensive stance. Similar to choosing to be open, because you have grounded yourself in the knowledge and tools of effective and civil communication, intentional listening skills and knowing your boundaries, you feel at peace because you know how to carry yourself with loving-kindness and integrity no matter what is presented.

You carry a steady calm energy that is not inflammatory, nor passive aggressive, and you then create space to see as objectively as possible all that is around you.


4. The possibility of happening upon your passion expands

I have shared this many times before, most thoroughly in my first book – Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life – my curiosity led me into blogging in 2009. To have been certain about anything regarding my passions or career at that point in my life, I was 30 years old at the time, would have prevented the possibility of exploring blogging, a fairly unknown area of hobby, interest let alone a potential career.

In many ways, your curiosity is your true self speaking. Your true self doesn’t give you a CV/resume of what your passions are, where you will find them and why you will enjoy them. Nope. It shares hints, drops crumbs and patiently waits to see if you will quiet your world enough to notice, to feel, to courageously explore. It hopes you will, because that is where you will discover the motivation, the fuel, to live a life of contentment.

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5. Comfortable with your own company deepens

When you follow your curiosity, and let go of ‘knowing’, you come alive in a way that, if you had previously been clinging to ‘what must happen’, is liberating, and you no longer need approval from outside sources to agree that what you are pursuing is ‘okay’. If people applaud, that is fine, but it need not happen, because if it is genuinely what you are curious about, you give yourself the gift of enjoyment as you engage with whatever has tickled your mind and asked you to explore further.
When you follow your curiosity, and let go of ‘knowing’, you come alive in a way that, if you had previously been clinging to ‘what must happen’, is liberating, and you no longer need approval from outside sources to agree that what you are pursuing is ‘okay’. If people applaud, that is fine, but it need not happen, because if it is genuinely what you are curious about, you give yourself the gift of enjoyment as you engage with whatever has tickled your mind and asked you to explore further.


6. Engagement with others is loving and genuine

Because you are choosing to live a life fueled by curiosity, your sincere energy draws similarly curious folks into your proximity. You are not seeking people out and expecting anything from them. Instead, you are engaged in a quest to understand more about something that has piqued your interest, and you will happen upon meeting with people out of pure serendipity.


7. Judgment subsides

Be curious, not judgmental.” Walt Whitman

Certainty requires that we cement ourselves into an idea, leaving us no room to expand our knowledge base. On any topic, if it involves human beings, it will be imperfect because humans are imperfect. How we grow, how we improve, is by letting go of Certainty, being honest about why we have clung to such certainty, and healed ourselves in those areas of our lives that need care, so that we can lean into Curiosity.

Often Certainty is rooted in the need to control, which is rooted in fear. Opposingly, to be curiosity is to acknowledge fear and explore anyway. As the unknown will forever exist, how we engage with life determines the quality of life, and if we require that those entities – people, events, etc. – beyond our control behave, act or live in a certain way, we suffocate the beautiful life and connections and love that wants to be a part of our life journey.


8. Improve your brain health and thus, your overall health

As I shared on IG over the weekend, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading How to Build a Healthy Brain by Kimberley Wilson, and having just finished it (look for an entire podcast episode to be share in August inspired by this book), and one of the many ideas she shares (she speaks about nutrition, exercise, money, and so much more) is our ability to be mindful and focus on what is going well, what is constructive rather than dwelling on what is not working as we would like. When we hold ourselves in Certainty, we often are battling the world constantly, whether verbally in arguments, or online, etc.. Conversely, if we live in a state of Curiosity, we hold our minds open as shared in #2 and #1, which doesn’t cause stress as the former stance in Certainty would do.

As well, Wilson speaks about having a purpose, and that is where letting your curiosity lead you where it will can lead you to discover your purpose is and where your passion overlap. When you find your purpose, you reduce the stress on your brain (I am simplifying the neural activity that is taking place when this happens), and when you reduce the stress on your brain, your entire well-being and overall health and quality of life improve.

9. Welcome more everyday moments to make you smile and lift your appreciation and awe for life

In other words, you deepen your contentment which increases your moments of happiness. Why? Because your mind and eyes are open, and you begin to see things you may have never noticed before instead of dwelling on what has to remain the same, and if you keep following your curiosity, you see through the windows, you discover how to open doors (or see doors that you didn’t know existed) and your curiosity leads you through them.

Curiosity not only keeps us forever young because it enlivens us, excites us and makes us want to begin a new day to see what we might learn, find, unearth, it also strengthens and welcomes into our lives the qualities at the heart of living a contented life – love, kindness, strength, acceptance, and the ability to find peace in the unknown because we know how we travel is a mode that will carry us far, all the while how we travel will be quite enjoyable for us and those in our lives.

Wishing you a wonderful new week. Thank you for stopping by.

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12 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Be Curious Instead of Certain? 9 Benefits for Living Everyday with Curiosity

  1. Happy Monday Shannon. A pretty bouquet. They look like wildflowers. My choice for a summer display.
    The heat is searing here in France. Keeping cool is a
    challenge. Confined indoors as the thick stone walls keep the house cool.
    The proverb’Curiousity killed the cat’ is well known but it has an addition that’s not used.
    The addition is ‘ but the risk would lead to resurrection because of the satisfaction felt after finding out’.
    We only have to observe children and their capacity for curiousity. They are so energised and full of life. As we get older some of us lose that capacity perhaps because we think it’s not compatible with maturity. I am happy to say that I have not lost my capacity for curiosity. I liken it to the zest of life
    In France throughout the summer there are numerous concerts and shows most of which are free.We were invited to watch the film La La Land in the open air at a venue in the next village. I have driven past this place numerous times but have never seen it close up. I didn’t see the film when it first came out as I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy it . So 5 years later I thought why not? It has been a while since I watched a movie in the open air. My husband wasn’t keen but there was also a local jazz band performing so he was intrigued.
    The setting was in the beautiful grounds of a lovely manoir which is completely hidden from the road. The music was swingy so we danced a little and then the movie started. I really enjoyed it and now understand why it was so acclaimed. To my surprise my husband thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
    So satisfaction was felt after we found out that the film was so enjoyable.
    Hope it’s not too hot in Bend.
    Wishing you and Norman woderful week. Kameela 😍xx

    1. Ahhh Kameela, it sounds like your curiosity did indeed energize the cat, vs. you-know-what! Open air events are a way to reconnect with the surroundings as well as meet up with Summer friends. Several wineries in our area have “tribute bands” that perform once a week. Of course, the wine is not included. Many of the attendees I only see in Summer during these events. So glad you had a good time and here’s hoping the heat wave will soon abate.

      1. Lucy your summer soirées at the winery sounds lovely. Wine and music in the open air is magical. The experience is heightened in the open air. There was a well stocked bar at the event. 😁Thankfully the heat has eased just a bit. Have a great week. Kameela😊

  2. Dear Shannon, I read your post before going to bed last night and let it stew in my sleep a bit. I must say for most of my life I did not fully embrace curiosity. My work was constantly changing and I think that factor, and the constant stress associated with it, helped me to avoid being too curious. Compartmentalizing what I did at work, how I functioned at home, and how I engaged socially, limited my scope of life. There were times that I just want to do nothing, think of nothing, and engage with no one. Now, after leaving that field, and working in a totally different and curious type of environment, I see a significant change in how I approach life. Your suggestions have clarified some issues as well. I will review them again, now that I am a bit more rested, and consider how I can improve my approach. My famous line….if I only knew then what I know now!

  3. Yes, yes, YES! People who knew us used to ask why I left my first husband as he was, in many important ways, a decent guy. There were a number of reasons I left, but one major one was his utter lack of curiosity or openness to possibility. His default was “why bother?”, and mine is “why not?” The two don’t mesh well 🙂 I also recall my dad telling my sister & me when we were kids that the best thing we could do for ourselves was keep our minds open: “you never know what’s going to fall in & surprise you”. I’m happy to say the lesson stuck with both of us. I love this post, Shannon. It’s gone into My Favorites collection for re-reading. You’ve hit the nail right on the head!

  4. Loved this post, not so long ago I made what I suppose could be called a “curiousity list” that had all things that have been tickling my brain for a while. This included travel but also experiences and career challenges and changes I’ve been interested in. Reading this post has made me more sure that I want to try and visit each item on the list and see where it takes me, and if it still peaks my curiosity. It may not be this month or even this year but I have the list and the curiosity to pursue it over time.
    Thanks for more thought provoking reading, Shannon
    Sarah

    1. Sarah, What a beautiful idea for a list and the name of curiosity list is a great title. I agree with you. 🙂 What a lovely idea to check in on it from time to time to encourage ourselves to explore, step out of our comfortable zone, but also pursue something that tickles our brain as you have said. Thank you for checking out this post. 🙂

      1. Wow, brilliant idea, ‘The Curiosity List’. The list has been created, so is there a commonality that suggests a thesis, a through-line, that helps develop an ease of focussing on that which serves your curiosity and growth? I really love this idea, thank you, Sarah H. xxx Rona

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