For me, curiosity and joy are intimately and inextricably connected. In a way, joy is not fully possible for anyone who lives an uncurious life. After all, if everything you see, feel, and do is exactly as expected, the joy of discovery is lost. On the other hand, if every experience and encounter with others has the potential of discovering something new in it, imagine how delightful daily life could be.
In my book, The ABCs of Joyful Living, the chapter on Curiosity begins with memories of reading the Curious George books. If you’ve read them, you remember how George gets into all kinds of trouble and frustrates others, including the man in the yellow hat who cares for him, all because he is relentlessly curious. Yet George feels none of that frustration, because he finds great joy in all he learns and discovers as he opens himself to all the possibilities of each day.
I don’t imagine that George woke up each morning with a plan and a checklist of what he was going to accomplish that day and thinking that, if he didn’t get things checked off, he was a failure. Rather, I like to think he wakes each day with a smile on his face and says something like this: “Woo hoo! I have another day to live and love whatever comes my way. What a great blessing and privilege I have been given. I wonder what curious things and people and places I will encounter today as I go about doing whatever it is I choose to do. I know it’s up to me how I respond to whatever things and people cross my path.”
Now that’s a joyful attitude to wake up with!
Inquisitive Minds Find Joy in Challenging Situations
From the mundane to the intimidating, a healthy dose of curiosity can make nearly any challenge an opportunity for experiencing joy.
For example… The morning I was to go for the first of several divorce mediations, I had no idea what to expect. Having no previous experience to draw upon, it was a completely new place and phase I was entering. I had several people tell me many things; above all that I needed to have a detailed plan of my expectations and how I thought and felt that things should go.
I was grateful for all the advice I received from people, especially those who were sharing from their own personal experience with divorce. Still, none of them had any idea how it would actually be for me and my situation. Having a bit of a plan and specific points that I didn’t want to forget did ease my uncertainty and fears a bit. However, the most unique advice I received was from one person who told me to… “Just go and be curious.”
Listen to all that was being said and take a moment to say to myself, “Hmm, that’s curious.” Leave out all blame, shame and anger, and just be curious.
That felt the most comfortable to me, so that’s the attitude I went with. And it was a very curious thing to experience. Although some of our later meetings now had previous experience I could draw upon, and there were specific things that needed to be discussed and agreements reached, still each one was its own new experience having never existed before that moment. Each time it was a new experience to be curious about.
Seeing the Everyday with New Eyes
While I would never presume to tell anyone to expect joy from such a meeting, it remains true that when you are curious about life and the things you experience in life, you will find great power that opens up to you, as you discover new ways, new ideas, new people and new paths to pursue. When you choose to be curious, your knowledge increases, as does your peace and joy, and you open up so many wonderful possibilities. There is no end to what you can learn and discover about yourself, about others, about the world, and everything in it and beyond it.
Are you inquisitive by nature? Do you look for the unexpected in even familiar situations? Or, do you always find what you expect to find, because you’re an uncurious person? Wouldn’t you rather open yourself to the increased possibility of finding joy every day in every situation, simply by being curious about what might be around the next corner?
If so, go grab a copy of my book, The ABCs of Joyful Living, and let me know how the steps I outline in it have helped you have more joy.