Be Curious

curious image of a hand holding an eyeball
Curious, isn’t it? Why does this image exist? Is this the end result of magic mushrooms?

If you wanted, you could make life seem bland. All you’d have to do is stop being curious. Stop wondering how couches are made, why wind exists, how someone would react if you told them you’re a penguin.

Of course, if you wanted to make your life exciting and interesting, you’d do the opposite. You’d wonder endlessly. You’d always be curious.

Curiosity is one of the few things that’s a simple yes/no choice. Nobody can stop you from being curious. It doesn’t take much effort to be curious. And yet, being curious is intensely rewarding.

I was at an aquarium the other day, and the aquarist asked the crowd if they had any questions. I asked as many questions as the rest of the crowd combined. I was surprised and disappointed that so many people had so few questions about the incredible creatures in the water.

One question I asked was basic, but it still lead to some fascinating details:

“How can you tell if a ray stings? Do all rays sting?”

He said that a ray’s stinging barb is at the base of the tail, not the end as one might think. And not all rays sting. Giant manta rays don’t sting.

Rays are interesting creatures. Did you know that electric rays exist? These rays have biological batteries and can stun their prey with a 220 volt jolt. It sounds like someone made them up.

In the tank, they had a leopard ray, which looks as you’d imagine—it’s a massive ray with leopard print covering its back. How cool! And this just scratches the surface of one species.

Why Be Curious? It Benefits Us Individually and As a Society

Being curious doesn’t merely give us the chance to learn facts about rays. It broadens our understanding of how the world works and can benefit us directly. In Ancient Greece, electric rays were used to curb the pain of child birth. Or maybe it was just as a distraction from pain for the mother. There’s nothing more distracting than a fresh electric ray on the belly.

A great deal of medicine is based on concepts and ingredients from plants and animals. Humankind actually needs curiosity in order to make progress in medicine, or any other area for that matter. Without curiosity, we only have what we currently know as individuals and as a species. With curiosity, we’re one question or experiment away from a breakthrough.

I’ve been living my dream career thanks to my curiosity about behavior change. That’s what lead me to read, and experiment, and ultimately craft strategies that work for me and others. And of note, this curiosity didn’t start out as a positive thing. I needed it to solve a problem.

I wondered why I was so inept at changing my behavior. Why couldn’t I just stop being lazy? Curiosity brought the answers.

Curiosity Will Energize Any Area or Topic

There are interesting things to find out about everything, including the things that you currently find disinteresting. I’m not at all interested in gardening. But with a quick search on Google, I found this article, and my mind is already blown. Here are a few discoveries:

  • A sunflower is actually 1000 flowers held together by a stalk. Whaaa?
  • There’s more microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil than people on earth.
  • Apples and strawberries are in the rose family.

On the Bachelor: “Do you accept this rose?”

Woman: “Sorry, I’m not hungry. And I’m only on this show to promote my instagram.”

Gardening is quite interesting for something I didn’t find interesting. And there’s other stuff, like changing the color of flowers by changing the acidity of the soil. One of my favorite plant facts is that plants can “see” or “sense” their way around obstacles and grow around them. They are more lively than they first appear.

“Plants fight for territory, seek out food, evade predators and trap prey. They are as alive as any animal, and – like animals – they exhibit behaviour.” (from BBC Earth)

Now imagine being curious about something that already interests you to some degree. Or imagine using curiosity to connect with other people at a party. They say that the best way to be interesting is to be interested, and curiosity is the key to being interested. Be curious today, and I promise you’ll enjoy it more than you would have otherwise.

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