Are you in a possessive monogamous relationship with your beliefs?
Humans are funny creatures. We think things and then we get attached to thinking them.
This attachment is oftentimes exaggerated - yes, we do need a compass that points towards our values, but we need to be flexible enough to consider the fact the compass might not be pointing due North...
What’s the cure to this boring and dangerous rigidity? I’d argue that it begins with a healthy dose of curiosity.
If you’re not curious, you’re just doing the same thing again and again. You’re hitting the ‘repeat’ button on your days, thoughts, beliefs - and the ‘delete’ button on anything new or disruptive.
So really, if you’re not curious, you are living in a mental Groundhog Day. Does that sound nightmarish enough? Then here are three very practical ways of injecting some curiosity into your life.
Use people like you would Google
If someone talks about something you’re not familiar with, ask them about it.
People are dying to talk about the things they are passionate about and often drop hints about these subjects in conversation - don’t let your ego get in the way of creating a more meaningful connection with them.
The words ‘I already knew that’ can kill anyone’s enthusiasm. Be interested - chances are they know some detail or have a take on that topic that you didn’t actually already know. Try the words ‘Yes and…’, then see their faces light up. (This is also an acting improv technique.)
Put it on ‘The Shelf’
He says that he sometimes follows threads that he’s not sure he’ll be able to use in his stories just because of his curiosity. The catch is, he does end up using them - just months, years later in a way which he wouldn’t have even thought about when he pursued them.
He calls this collecting stories and putting them on ‘The Shelf’. The point is, don’t look for immediate gratification. Be an explorer of the human experience.
Disconfirm your opinions
This is my favourite game to play.
Develop the self-awareness necessary to identify when you are attached to your beliefs or when they might not be so valid - and then actively look for evidence to disprove them.
In one of my favourite quotes ever, Aristotle said that ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’
So go ahead and think thoughts that are not yours. Enter an open relationship with your beliefs. Flirt with that sexy strange idea that you only see come up when your mind is a bit hazy.
Raise some hell, see what happens.
- Here are three tips on how to flirt with more thoughts than you ever have before:
- Be inquisitive. if you don't know something, ask or google it.
- Don't expect every thread you follow to have a clear outcome. Let your curiosity guide you to new territories.
- Think thoughts that you don't agree with. Don't get too attached to your beliefs; actively look for arguments to support ideas you don't agree with.