After meditating this morning, my phone beeped with a Google Photos throwback of my weekend trip to the Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning 3 years ago in the Blue Mountains region, an hour away from Sydney. Sitting cross-legged and wrapped in my comfy blanket, I reminisced on the gorgeous views of the valley, the hot cups of tea, volunteering in the kitchen, and how my curiosity to learn meditation helped me over the years and led to unexpected friendships.
Most of the breakthrough discoveries and inventions throughout history, from starting a fire to self-driving cars, have something in common: curiosity.
The same is true for an individual’s personal development.
Curiosity is one of the greatest things we as humans have. A single step into a new field can open up a whole different world of opportunities.
It is an emotion that stimulates your brain and forces you to explore new things, new experiences, maybe a new profession.
Harvard Business Review also did research on curiosity and how it benefits leaders, employees, and organizations.
My meditation journey started with a simple curiosity to try and learn something new. In July 2017, I was in India for my summer break and was keen on learning yoga. The yoga course I was eyeing got sold-out.
My sister’s friend mentioned the 10-day Vipassana course. Intrigued, I researched it and was hooked instantly. People said it’s the hardest but the most fulfilling thing they have done.
Vipassana is no fun, it’s like mental torture the first time you try it. Dejected, I ended up leaving early. (Read my vipassana experience here). But the experience planted a seed in me to explore more.
Over the next few months, I practiced on and off through Youtube and found other institutes near Sydney that were a bit more relaxed with their rules.
I eventually did 2 retreats at Brahma Kumari’s and then there was no looking back. I promised myself to go for Vipassana again and I went last year.
What seemed impossible before is now a daily habit with numerous benefits.
A simple curiosity at age 21 helped me learn a skill that will help me throughout my life.
Similarly, 2 years ago I met my current boss at a youth social entrepreneurship event organized by Young Change Agents.
I never thought I would be working with him just a year later.
He runs a cause-based crowdfunding platform StartSomeGood. I didn’t know anything about crowdfunding but I was interested in social innovation as I was working on a few projects of my own.
I kept my eyes and ears open, took initiative to learn on my own, and now I work with StartSomeGood where I coach change-makers from around the world on crowdfunding and help them raise funds online.
It all starts with a thought:
“Hey, that sounds interesting. Tell me more!”
How to become more curious?
There’s so secret sauce, but here’s a few tips to get started:
- Ask more questions. Challenge the status quo more often.
- What can you learn from others around you? Look around your friend’s circle and colleagues. What can they teach you that you don’t know anything about?
- Set learning goals. Make a conscious effort each month to learn something new, either on your own or through a class. (Check out my newsletter below to help with learning 😉 )
- Switch perspectives. Broaden your network. Meet interesting people. (Check out lunchclub.com) Do volunteer work in a new community. Play an entirely different sport.
- Look out for new experiences. Watching a foreign language movie, traveling to a new location, reading or watching a book or movie of a different genre, or even eating new food.
- Find adjacent areas to explore. If you are a runner, try yoga. If you work a lot with spreadsheets, try learning macros and SQL. If you love watching Netflix, learn how shows are made, from ideation to production to release.
Keep feeding your curiosities – maybe you want to be a professional hiker, learn astrophysics, be a pilates instructor, or even a horse whisperer.
It could be any damn thing that interests you.
And it doesn’t have to make you money. It should just be interesting enough that you don’t mind shelling out money to learn it.
And remember that good thing takes time. Going deeper into something that interests you can do wonders over the long term.
Ask yourself daily, what am I curious about today?