Why Curiosity Is More Realistic Than Clarity / by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by Zorah Olivia

Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.
— Tony Schwartz

In school we were taught to get the correct answers, fill in blanks, and follow checklists. But, in real life, success rarely comes in a straight line. Attempting to affect positive change in the world around us or our own lives can be frustrating when you don’t know where to start.

Many of us waste too much time searching for the next step to appear on a pre-defined path to get us where we want to go. I remember moving back to Shreveport and thinking that there was a group of people like me hanging out somewhere. Finding those friends was my key to loving this city. I was wrong. Getting involved with what was already happening here, creating what I wished existed, and showing up to events even when I was uncomfortable was how I found like-minded friends. They were definitely not all in one place. And I enjoy having lots of different friends more than one group anyway.

We look for rigid absolutes where there aren’t any. When change is constant, you have to use whatever you’ve got in front of you. That tool might not look like a clear answer but a resource, a problem, or a question instead.

Living the Questions

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Questions bring us to the edge of what we know. But they can make everyone uncomfortable. We often have a hard time sitting with uncertainty.  

Most of my ideas or breakthroughs start with questions. This blog started with the question, “What does it look like to live a big life in a small city?”  People ask me in a variety of ways to answer the above question with certainty. But there is not one right way to thrive where you are.  Thriving is a mindset and something to explore every day.

A Shift Toward Curiosity

Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times- a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses, and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is available to everyone.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

When you get rid of prescriptive solutions to problems, you need a new framework to stay grounded and move forward. More than expertise or passion, curiosity is a virtue worth cultivating.

Curiosity gives you permission to create, explore, and learn as you go. You can be enthusiastic and try things that might not work.  Diving into a problem is not only empowering but more effective.

Ideas are only perfect in your head. When you have experiences and real information, you are much closer to succeeding at your goal.

This high school teacher, Ramsey Musallam, does a wonderful job making Chemistry compelling to his students. But he didn’t always teach like this. He made a conscious choice to keep class interesting.

Asking questions, noticing the world around us, and experimenting with our ideas are wonderful learning opportunities. We can transform our daily lives by staying curious.

What are some small ways you cultivate curiousity?