How Curiosity and an Open Mind Will Change Your Life

Toby Hazlewood

Rediscover the joy of learning

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Some of my fondest memories of my kids’ childhood are of picking them up from school.

I remember their excitement as they would rush to tell me of the events and successes of the day — hurried and excitable stories of how they’d answered questions in class and received praise from their teacher. Paraphrased accounts of random eras in history. Enthusiastic descriptions of planets, dinosaurs and works of art that they’d learned about during the day.

Kids find joy in knowledge and in learning — it fuels their growing brains and satisfies their innate curiosity. It gives them permission to wave their hand in the air and to bask in the glory when they get the answer right. It reaffirms their understanding of the world and makes them feel a little more grown up, day by day.

Their innate curiosity makes learning fun for them. They’re naturally interested, inquisitive and keen to understand more about how the world around them works.

If they don’t know the answer or don’t understand how something works they ask questions without fear or shame. They’ll take a wild guess at questions and aren’t afraid to get things wrong.

All that matters is that they eventually understand and learn something new. Their desire to learn is instinctive and pure, built within their genes.

Why learning throughout life is important

Learning is important to adults too of course, but for most it becomes more transactional.

  • Knowledge can be a passport to advancement at work, the prompt for a new business idea or simply the key that unlocks new interests and engages us in new hobbies.
  • It equips us to impress others, to intellectually dominate competitors and rivals and can help us build trust and credibility.
  • It might make us attractive to a future partner or be the basis of new friendships and businesses.

Knowledge is power for sure, but in adult life many of us lose sight of the joy of learning for learning’s own sake — not learning to achieve an end, but simply out of a desire to feed our mind and learn something new.

It’s understandable of course — we adults typically have ever-more responsibilities and find ourselves pulled in fifteen different directions by life. Our focus is diluted and spread thinly.

Learning becomes a matter of necessity and survival — we have to learn how to raise a child, how to do our jobs better, how to manage our money, to support our families and take care of our own interests too. Learning for its own sake seems less of a priority — maybe even like a chore.

Our challenge is to try and maintain (or in some cases reignite) that instinct for exploring new subjects and ideas, simply for the sake of doing so.

To test our brain with new information and new ideas is a means of building mental agility and acuity via the process of neural-plasticity. Chances are we’ll also find that it makes us more eloquent in conversation, more fluid in our thinking and more rounded in our personality and general knowledge too.

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The more you learn...

Once you open your mind to learning as an adult once again, and allow your attention to take you down a few different rabbit holes you realise the extent of your ignorance:

“The more we learn, the more we realize how little we know.” -R. Buckminster Fuller

The joy of this realisation is that with so much that is yet unknown to us, and such ready access to the wisdom of the ages, we will never be exhausted of things to discover and master. Unlimited knowledge is at our fingertips if we choose to avail ourselves of it.

My advice — indulge your inner child and recapture some of that enthusiasm and curiosity.

Reignite your passion for learning for learning’s own sake.

Read about topics that have no practical application in your life — learn about things merely because you are drawn to them in some way.

Your brain will thank you, and so will your inner child.

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