Tag Archives: Curiosity

Inspiration From A Child

As children we look to adults to teach us what we need to know in the world.  And why wouldn’t we – adults have life experience so they can show us how to succeed without having to repeat painful lessons.  At least that’s the theory behind it.  We all know it doesn’t always play out quite so neatly.  But regardless, the point is, it is a one-way street.  A one-directional exchange.  Children learn from adults.  Yet, as an adult, if you spend any amount of time with children you will find them to be an incredible source of inspiration unto themselves.

Case and point:  I often spend time with my best friend’s ten-year old daughter – sometimes it is as little as 10-15 minutes while other times it can be a few hours.  And each and every time I am in awe of what I take away even from just watching and listening…here’s just a few areas I have found inspiration through her:

  1. Seemingly endless curiosity: As adults we grow tired of the continual rounds of “why?” and “how come?” that children tend to throw at us because we don’t have time for those questions – there is always so many more important things to do. Yet for a child, understanding the world around them is all there is, hence the endless “why?” and “how come?” questions.  They seek to know and understand – and in a lack of information or answers, their creativity (another example I mention below) takes over in an attempt to use what they do know about their world to explain this new thing they don’t yet understand.  How inspiring it is to see such an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and understanding, for curiosity about the world around them.  Think how we could benefit from having some of that curiosity in our own lives each day as adults.
  2. No worries about what others think: With technology and social media being such a staple part of their norm, young children have no problem making videos of themselves and posting on Musically, You Tube, etc. They don’t worry about what others will think about their hair or their clothes.  They aren’t concerned about whether they stumbled over their words or not.  They just have fun making whatever video they have decided to make.  Meanwhile the thought of using FB live or Periscope is paralyzing to me as I find myself worrying about how it would sound, what I will look like, saying “um” too many times, what people would think of the content, if I even have anything worthwhile to share in the first place…I could go on, but you get the idea.  So many of us could benefit from learning how to relax and just have fun with stuff like this from our young friends.  Think of all the things we don’t do as adults out of fear of what others will think – clearly this an area to find inspiration from young children.
  3. Boundless creativity: Have you ever had a child tell you a story they have made up? Did you marvel at where they came up with half of the stuff in the story?  It seems as if their creativity has no limits.  They are not bound by what is real, what they can touch or see, or feel.  Literally, if they can think of it then it can exist in their young minds.  Just sit back and watch young children in free play sometime and you will be amazed at the incredible amount of creativity you see.  It is one of the most inspiring things I have ever witnessed.  For anyone who has ever struggled to be or feel creative, just sit in the presence of children for even a short period of time and I promise you, you will feel inspired and creative.

The exchange between adults and children shouldn’t be so one directional. We can learn so much from children. Children just do what they do.  There are none of the external worries or cares that we have picked up as adults.  (How we as a society strip our young children of these beautiful attributes so that they grow up to be overly serious, stressed out adults who worry entirely too much about things is a subject for another day perhaps.)  Children serve as such wonderful examples of what it can look like to be present in the moment.  We really should pay a bit more attention to the inspiration we can garner from the young ones in our lives.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is about.”- http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com

Have You Seen My Curiosity? It Seems To Be Missing.

Have you ever noticed just how curious young children are? All the questions they ask…that dreaded “why” question especially. If you watch them as they play or explore something that is new or different to them, they display an innate curiosity that is quite astonishing even from the youngest of ages.  I know I am fascinated watching my niece, who is just now 18 months old, when she gets ahold of something.  She doesn’t have the words to talk about it or an understanding of what it is or how it works, but she will spend countless minutes exploring it, trying to open it/take it apart/figure it out…just being curious about what it is she can do with it.  And this is not something anyone taught my niece, or any of the other children for that matter.  They just seem to know how to be curious, to explore, to examine, to manipulate.

Then I think about myself or any of my friends. We don’t really have that curiosity level any more. To be honest we don’t have time for curiosity.  Life has taken over and there’s so many other things to focus on in any given day, that time for reflection, curiosity, and exploration is minimal at best.  But why?  When did this transition occur?  Where did our curiosity go?

Put succinctly and perhaps even bluntly, rules, regulations, and expectations creep in at some point as we get older and take over our world. School, family, friends, church, work, society as a whole, etc. all encourage us, intentionally or not, to leave the curiosity behind and focus on our career and/or the day-to-day tasks that make up life as we know it. We are a very busy society and we have little time or patience for curiosity or exploration of things for the mere sake of being curious.  There are more important things to attend to as we get older, or so we are told.  Think about the way in which many adults respond to children who are asking all their questions.  Can’t you hear the frustration or irritation in their voices?  Don’t some adults verbally acknowledge that they want the children to stop asking so many questions?  Have we not all heard an adult tell a curious child that the answer to the their “why” question is “because I said so”?  As adults we simply lose patience with curiosity as it doesn’t fit nicely into our grown up world.

Thus, somewhere along the line we lose touch with our curiosity. It gets shoved to the back of the closet. And not necessarily because we chose to put it there but because we have been conditioned to put it there.  In some cases it gets beaten into that corner, while in others it might be a slower shuffle to the back.  But regardless, as we grow up we learn to abandon our curiosity.

What a sad commentary. That same beautiful curiosity my niece displays and we applaud when she is a toddler within a few years is considered inconvenient and thus pushed to the side. What is lost as a result of this mindset?  What benefits could we as individuals reap if we kept our curiosity alive and well into adulthood?  What benefits could be had in society if we all remained just a little more curious?  To me, these are haunting questions.

Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” To deny or ignore our curiosity limits our ability, both as individuals and as a society, to grow, expand, improve, develop new things, etc. I think one of the reasons so many people experience a “mid-life crisis” is because we force some of the vital components of our happiness, like curiosity, into a near non-existent state.

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” – Bryant H. McGill

We need to stop denying the integral parts of ourselves that help us be who we are meant to be. Curiosity may be inconvenient according to the norms of our modern day, fast paced life, but it is such a valuable part of who we are and allows us to make important contributions to society. So if you have lost your curiosity, misplaced it, or put it in the back seat, it is time to find it and put it to good use.  The world needs you and your curiosity!