Today, after the bear sighting yesterday, I noticed that I walked outside the house in a completely different mode than usual. I wasn’t afraid, but I was alert and simply paying attention, openly and without trying to influence the outcome. It struck me this was pretty close to my definition of curiosity.
In the early days of this blog, on Day 058, I wrote about stopping for a moment to honor one’s achievements. This is perhaps less about curiosity and more about simply paying attention, but then my last post was also more about noticing things than about being actively curious.
Several people this week have made it clear that they think I need to stop more often and pay attention to what I have just accomplished, rather than rushing on to the next thing on the to-do list. My favorite reminder so far has been “Shall I open the bottle of champagne?” said by a friend who on principle keeps a bottle of sparkling wine on hand for special occasions.
My work day started at about 7:00 this morning and proceeded without a break to about 1 p.m. at which point I had a bite to eat and went out with my dog. I got an awful lot of work done, but it was pretty intense. Then I came back for a conference call and the follow up associated with that.
Still, on our walk I managed to notice the mushrooms(!) that have sprouted in the park after just a few days of rain following on a very dry spell, and I noticed as we walked past a sidewalk café that most people were speaking English instead of German, although often with an Austrian accent. It may not have been curiosity exactly (I wasn’t rushing home to my mushroom field guide to find out what kind of mushrooms they were), but it suggests at least to me that I am learning to pay attention better. 🙂
A new form of interpersonal curiosity–easy to recognize, harder to practice.
I taught a group yesterday, in English but made up 100% of non-native English speakers. Some were really easy to understand. Others were harder. As I asked myself “What shall I write about today?” it occurred to me that I had actively and in the face of some difficulty practiced a good deal of interpersonal curiosity. I consistently tried to get beyond the accent and, in some cases, broken grammar in an effort to understand what the person meant.
This is not to be underestimated, I think, as a form of interpersonal curiosity.
I’m a coach. I can do this. If I had a client who came and said “I want to move through life paying more attention to each moment, meeting each moment with greater curiosity and openness?” What would I say?
One of the first questions would be around motivation: “What do you think will change, what will be better, if you achieve that?”
In this case I already know the answers to those questions. They are my hypothesis and one of the big reaons I started this blog.
One aspect I would want to explore after that is situations where the client (me) quite naturally moves through life paying more attention, meeting each moment with greater curiosity and openness.
Off the top of my head my answers are: when wine tasting, when reading certain kinds of books, often when writing (so you can see how I came to write a couple of blogs), sometimes when walking in wild (but not too wild) places, and on certain kinds of trips (not drug-related!).
Next up, what is it about those situations that promote the kind of engagement with life that I want? Tomorrow—wine-tasting and curiosity.
Yesterday I suppose I could say I practiced curiosity by looking for a new way forward for my professional life. I attended a workshop for people who are thinking of starting their own business in Austria. We sat for three hours (without a break) and learned about taxes and social insurance as a self-employed person and which jobs require business licenses and so on. I stayed alert—and curious—for the most part. That’s a decent-sized chunk of practice for one day, I think.
I practiced interpersonal and other kinds of curiosity almost all day today—part of my job, in this case. Over the next two days I’m going to have to bring in and comment on what a colleague did today, so I consciously and actively listened and paid attention and simply tried to take in what was going on.
One thing that helped me? Not having responsibility for moving the participants along. And taking notes. I may never be able to decipher everything I wrote on my mind map, but it helped me stay focused and now gives me an overview of the topics covered and themes that came out.
I chose a good week for the 10-day challenge.