Growing Curiosity

How do we grow our curiosity? How do we capture (or re-capture) our sense of wonder about the world?

Curiosity is an appetite. It’s a bit of an advanced appetite, one that we can only really grow once we have a secure foundation. If you’ve overcome having to worry on a moment-by-moment basis about supporting your existence, it’s time to turn your attention to growing your curiosity.

We grow appetites by feeding them. This principle can be used to great effect for both good and bad. Harness it for good in your life.

An example. Do you have some curiosity about how to look toned and fit? Don’t just stare at fitness magazines or your Instagram feeds. Feed that curiosity with knowledge. (Though be wary of “bro science” and people who are trying to sell you something.) Read and consume everything you can. Then you start to act. At first there is fear, but you can overcome that fear.

For many pursuits, you will find that there is a pyramid of knowledge. Once you have absorbed everything you can at one level, you will want to move up to the next level. You will have acted on everything you can and may have reached a plateau. That plateau, that tension, drives your hunger for more knowledge.

In the case of fitness knowledge, you might start out by reading a men’s interest magazine. There are some good articles on health and fitness, and you will start to pick up the vocabulary of the domain. After a while, you will see that the content tends to repeat, or sometimes even conflict with itself.

That’s when you’ll graduate from the milk and will start searching out the meat.

You’ll start reading information from practitioners. You’ll seek out textbooks and guides. You’ll begin the equivalent of a personal Bachelors program, educating yourself in much the same way as you would if you were attending school to learn about the subject.

Eventually, you’ll have mastery of that knowledge. Paradoxically, you’ll now have more questions and less certainty about what you know. But, you’ll also have the gift of critical thinking. You’ll hear “facts” from casual practitioners in the field, and you won’t automatically accept those “facts” as reality without some degree of verification.

Now you’ll be in your own personal Graduate studies in the subject. This is when your questions lead you to seeking out the most up-to-date research. You will form qualified and nuanced opinions about the key questions in the field.

Don’t believe me? Find any devout “League of Legends” player and ask them which character is best. I guarantee that the longer someone has spent playing the game, the more of a nuanced answer you will get.

Appetites are like fire. They grow as we feed them. A small fire grows to be a huge flame, powerful and ready to be harnessed. Feed the flame.

At some point, your obsession will grow to the point where you need to worry about how to get more out of your time.

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