As with most good things that I do one time, I then pronounce them a ‘tradition’. And so again I begin this year with the ‘one word’ resolution tradition.
The premise of this is pretty simple, choose a word that will set your intention for the year ahead. It can be any word and the idea is that you utilise this word to draw your focus on something that you’d like to infuse into your life: to thread through it.
At the start of 2016, I gave this a go. And after a bit of thought I decided my word was ‘courage’. And I blogged about it. Some which is probably not all that interesting. And some which may be a bit better.
What I really enjoyed about this ‘one word’ adventure over a traditional resolution was that it was something I was able to come back to time and time again. It helped to guide some of my goals for the year. And when I was feeling doubtful about something or stressed it helped to ask the question ‘What would Harry (Potter) do?’
So with my courage on board, I’ve set myself a new word as I head in 2017. The word is – curiosity.
Curiosity is by definition an interesting subject. It’s that state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something. It’s the process of how an idea can suddenly pop into our mind, only to open up an array of doors for us to gaze into. Curiosity can create an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience. I reckon the ability to be curious about the way the world works is one of the most underrated qualities or talents that we can develop.
Like most aspects of humanness, everyone possesses curiosity to some degree. We differ according to the strength and breadth of our curiosity and also our willingness to act on it.
Again like most aspects of humanness, curiosity is something that we can nurture and develop. With practice, we can harness the power of curiosity to transform everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences. We can also use curiosity to intentionally create wonder, intrigue and play out of almost any situation or interaction we encounter.
It all starts with wanting to know more.
According to the smart people (aka the ‘research’) developing our curious side has all sorts of benefits. This can include but is not limited to:
- Improving our health
- We become smarter.
- We have better relationships.
- We are happier
- We might find our true ‘Meaning’
This is all very impressive smart stuff. And if any of this eventuates over the course of the year, I’ll be stoked, however none of this had anything to do with why I chose curiosity as my one word for 2017. There’s three pretty simple reasons why I picked this word.
Firstly, over the past little while I have seemed to become a little bit stuck in the familiar with very little engagement in it. Really just going along with it. And I want to be more engaged. And here’s the thing - nothing will be interesting unless we focus our attention on it.
Here’s an example – apple stickers. The tiny stickers stuck to the fruit that sometimes you may forget to peel off and end up biting straight through the plastic. Turns out they are fascinating things. When I was in high school I began collecting these things (I told you I was a nerd) and I can guarantee it might surprise you how many different stickers there are out there, how they work and the lengths your friends will go to collect them for you.
And it’d be so nice to get some of that feeling back. Some of that - “Oh wow, that sticker I have never seen before! Is that from a royal gala? It must be from Tasmania or somewhere? Look at the colours! How exciting” – wonder back into my daily life.
Also, occasionally I worry I’m becoming a little bit of a judgmental sod. Or at least jumping to assumptions way too quickly. I don’t know where this has sprung from, but lately this judgmentalness has popped its ugly head and I’d like to nip it in the bud. And the best way to do it? Be curious. Ask questions. Listen. Ask. And listen some more. The more we know, the harder it is judge and the easier it is to empathise.
Thirdly, this year is going to bring a lot of new things for me. There will be new opportunities. But probably also many moments of uncertainty.
Us humans very rarely thrive under uncertainty. We rarely look forward to anxiety and tension, but research shows that these mixed emotions are often what lead to the most intense and longest-lasting positive experiences. People who take part in new and uncertain activities are happier and find more meaning in their lives than people who rely on the familiar.
Most of us mistakenly believe that certainty will make us happier than uncertainty. Imagine that you go to a footy game knowing that your team will win. Most people would say that, yes that would make them happy. Yet knowing the outcome in advance takes away the thrill of watching each play and the good tension that comes with not knowing what will happen next. We forget about the pleasures of surprise and uncertainty.
So, I’m hopeful that curiosity might be the thing that helps me thrive (or at least lessen the panic) in moments of uncertainty.
And how am I going to do all of this? How am I going to cultivate my curiousioty and reap all of these rewards?
You’ll just have to wait and see.