April 2, 2019
For a long time, I felt frozen and overwhelmed by all of the things. All of the books I wanted to read, the documentaries I wanted to watch, the subjects I wanted to study, and so on. I was interested in so many side hobbies, from learning guitar to studying Spanish, but I wasn’t doing anything about it.
When I thought about the amount of time and effort it would take to master any of these pursuits, combined with the countless ways to approach learning each one, I was left feeling paralyzed.
Which type of guitar should I learn, acoustic or electric? What happens after I complete the beginner tutorials on YouTube, will I have to get private lessons? Who gives the best lessons in London? Can I even afford guitar lessons right now?
You get the point.
In today’s world, where the abundance of information is enormous, an interesting paradox exists:
We have the ability to learn practically anything, but with so many options, we often fail at taking the first step.
This year, a teammate suggested the idea of choosing a theme to carry with me for 2019. I wanted to pick a theme that would inspire me to always be learning, and so I chose the idea of “Intense Curiosity.”
To me, intense curiosity is about having a childlike wonder and interest in everything around me.
It’s about asking more questions, even when they seem silly or obvious. It’s about trying new things, big or small.
It’s about listening to my own heart and quieting the critic in my mind, and taking the first step without worrying about where the path leads.
Whereas curiosity is about interest and ideas, intense curiosity is about action and adventure. Curiosity peaks in the window; intense curiosity walks through the door.
. . .
What I’ve experienced practicing intense curiosity has been deeply rewarding, and if you’re stuck like I was, I think it might help you too.
Quite simply, I’ve learned that curiosity is the antidote to apathy.
. . .
However, there is a big caveat: sometimes curiosity propels us forward, but sometimes it leaves us overwhelmed and frozen in our tracks.
So how can we let it lead us where we want to go?
I believe the answer lies in letting go of your expectations.
Yes, it might be trite but I’ve found it’s true. When you let go of all the imaginary scenarios your mind thinks up, and all of the objections and ‘what ifs’ it will conjure, it becomes so much easier to just start.
And once you start on following your curiosity, you’ll find joy in doing that which you had always wanted to do, and that joy will keep moving you forward.
No doubt it is difficult to let go of our expectations and our worries and just dive into a new topic or adventure.
I’ve found it so helpful to stop worrying about where the path will lead and start enjoying the process.
You can spend hours researching exactly how to learn guitar, or you can pick up a guitar, click on a YouTube video, and just play.
Realizing that I can let go of my expectations of the path and focus on the first step is not only freeing, but it’s fun.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
In the end, I’ve come to realize that intense curiosity is really about letting my curiosity flow and guide me in any direction it so chooses.
This year, I’ve finally taken the plunge and started my yoga teacher training. I’ve loved the practice for years and always wanted to explore it more, so I finally ignored my worries about “Is now the perfect time?” and just did it.
I started playing guitar, and while I’m not great, I can pluck a few beginner songs, and I find that incredibly fulfilling. I play maybe 10 minutes a day, so progress is slow (you can ask my roommates), but the journey is joyful.
I also started writing. Not an article each week, or a consistent journaling discipline. But an article a month, give or take. It’s not perfect, and I don’t have a well-thought-out plan for what I’m doing here. I’m just practicing intense curiosity and taking the first step.
Where might your curiosity lead? Ask it, and then follow along.
I publish a newsletter called One Percent Wisdom with articles like this, plus other interesting things that are driving my curiosity. It's a growing community of almost 1,000 people, come join us!
We respect your privacy and will never share your email with anyone. Promise.