“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
— Shunryu Suzuki
One of the ways that people get stuck in old patterns is by losing connection with their innate curiosity. If you’ve ever watched a baby or a child navigate the world, you know that human beings are born with a natural drive to explore ourselves, others, and the world around us.
When you’re in this place of curiosity, you are rooted in your moment‐by moment experience, like a child who wants to know “What’s that?” and “Why?” You’re willing to change your mind when new information comes in, and are unabashed about making unlikely observations, inquiries, and connections.
Without curiosity, the world can seem dull and repetitive, or crowded and busy with no way to orient to what’s most important. Without curiosity, you often narrow your possibilities through judgment; by prematurely grasping for an answer when you haven’t asked enough questions; or by dulling your capacity to respond to all of the interesting information that’s available to you.
Although curiosity is a property of the mind, many great thinkers have made the link between the creative process and bodily sensations. Albert Einstein described his “primary process of perceiving [a]s muscular and visual,” and Thomas Edison said it even more directly: “Great ideas originate in the muscles.” Curious people allow their physical senses to stimulate and inform their vision.
Want to experiment with cultivating curiosity?
Approach the world today as if you were a young child, with all of your senses alive. What questions do you have, what are you curious about? What do you know in your body? Experiment with a “catch and release” quality of knowing — don’t hold on to any one answer, just keep asking the questions and see what emerges.
If you want to learn more about having an awake and curious mind, check out The Power of the Mind on the Free Resources page.
Photo by Julie Harris