Something big was afoot.
Bored out of my mind and tired of the daily grind, I couldn’t muster up even one ounce of enthusiasm. My work in the corporate world had become meaningless. I knew I had reached a significant turning point.
In the mornings, my husband and I would laugh when, all “armored up” and ready to leave, I would rest my head on his chest and moan, “Please don’t make me go to work today.”
But this was no joke.
Have you ever suddenly realized that you no longer fit into your chosen work environment? The one where you’d been performing well and cheerfully earning a living for years. The one with the great benefits package. In the brand new, art-filled building on the stunning campus.
That was me about 15 years ago. It was kind of terrifying.
The torrent of questions seemed endless. How the hell did I get here? Why do I feel so uneasy? What the hell should I do now?
I had no answers but sensed it was necessary to stay with the questions, be present with the not knowing, and remain curious.
There was mental fog and confusion, so I did the only thing that made sense.
I got quiet.
I slowed down the hectic busyness of my life so I could listen for the answers to all those questions.
Somewhere along the way, I had given up on my sense of wonder and openness. I had opted for the “right” answers and solutions instead. The ones that would help me fit in.
So I wanted to venture into this unknown territory and come up with all of my possibilities, not just the “right” ones.
Life's Big Questions
“What do I really, really want in life?” That was the question that started me on a new path. At first, what I heard was, “I just want some peace and quiet.”
Eventually, I understood that yearning for peace and quiet was a call to self-discovery. What I really needed was space to change and grow.
So then I became curious about where I wanted to grow.
That’s when some of the larger-than-life questions came up. Who am I, really? Who am I becoming? Why am I here?
It was staying open to the questions that led to crucial new learning. The kind of learning that lasts because it comes from within.
I found myself making new lifestyle choices that turned into healthy habits.
I became curious about new creative activities like nature photography.
I explored meditation and other spiritual practices.
Curiosity and inquiry also led to my professional coaching education, which turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences of my life.
My rekindled sense of wonder and curiosity guided me back to my true self and innate creativity. Curiosity continues to be my starting place as I grow in understanding of myself, others, and the nature of life.
How Curiosity Serves You
- Embracing curiosity empowers us by expanding possibilities and opportunities in any situation.
- Curiosity builds relationships. Being authentically curious about another invites them to reveal themselves candidly, so you make a genuine connection.
- Choosing to view our natural world with wonder and curiosity refreshes the spirit.
- There is power in not knowing. Venturing into the unknown has a sense of possibility and freedom to it.
- As my mentor Brian Clark writes, “Just like having a lot of ideas is the way to have a great idea, being curious about a lot of things leads to a lot of ideas that can result in the perfect way forward for you.”
- Curious people are happier. Studies have found that curiosity is linked to feeling more positive, less anxious, more satisfied with life, and having better mental health.
In the words of favorite teacher Elizabeth Gilbert, “The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn't take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for an instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?”
Liz says "it's like a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. You pick each one up, unfold it, and see where it leads you next."
If you keep doing that, curiosity will lead you to creativity.
And that will be the end of boredom.
* Also published at Sixty & Me.
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