Stay Thirsty My Friends!
Old age begins when curiosity ends
June 12, 2022 - Thank you for reading Curious Elder!
Hello Everyone! Here’s hoping you have a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
ARE YOU A CURIOUS ELDER? If you subscribe to this newsletter, you just might be, and if you aren’t, I hope to turn you into one through these posts.
Curiosity is gold!
Curiosity can be exciting, and it can be alarming. It disrupts the mundane. It sees with a fresh pair of eyes. It invents the future. It’s also what keeps our elder years shining brightly.
Curiosity is motivating and makes life more enjoyable. It’s the beginning of a learning curve and takes us down interesting paths we would never have explored without it.
Curiosity helps us stay open to new ideas. The actress Angie Harmon recently noted in AARP magazine, “I had no idea I loved flowers so much. I have roses, hydrangeas, giant gardenias--and I love fine china.” Who knew?
Do you still have wonder?
Above, I asked the question: are you a curious elder? Your immediate answer may have been, ‘not really.’ But I think you are. Everyone is to some degree. You can’t go through life without wondering about something. Getting answers is satisfying. Discovering is fun. It’s fascinating to think about things in a new and different light, even if ultimately it doesn’t change your mind or you disagree.
We were born having extreme curiosity. Think of the toddler that is completely mesmerized while meticulously examining a dry leaf he finds on the ground. Or the four-year-old who asks endless questions about everything under the sun. “Why does it hurt to hold ice? How high do kites fly? Where does the sun go at night?”
As our years went on, curiosity became a casualty.
And then, life ultimately got in the way!
After years of being distracted by the business of life, our inborn curiosity got rusty and slipped into dormancy.
How to reactivate your curiosity
Being curious is a fundamental part of the human experience. It takes you from being a passive observer of your life and turns you into an active participant. It gives you a wider lens through which to view the world. We must reactivate it because curious people are happier people who enjoy more of what life has to offer us each day.
Having curiosity gives you a uniquely personal way of looking at the world. Give yourself permission to stop for a moment and daydream. Change your fixed mindset into a growth mindset. Each day of living contains a mystery to be explored, secrets to be investigated, and problems to be solved. Does that sound overly dramatic?
It’s not. Curiosity is that powerful.
What are you most curious about? The universe? Autonomous vehicles? Fitness? International travel? Maybe it’s that skill or hobby you’ve secretly wanted to master for years. Try to articulate the ideas or challenges that you’re curious about. Ask questions of yourself.
How do I begin to …?
When will something happen with …?
Where is this idea going?
I’d like to find out if …
I wonder how she …
What if they …?
Questioning in new ways can trigger ideas, new thinking, and thus, curiosity.
Every challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn. We get a deeper understanding of the complexities of how the world is changing and of our own psyche. We gain perspective, and that brings contentment.
Travel somewhere new. It doesn’t have to be expensive or far away. There are dozens of places to explore within your own state. My wife and I are researching little-known places throughout Florida, including the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which sounds exciting. Do some research before you go, so you can make the most of each visit.
Discover a new hobby. Two things I enjoy are gardening and photography. Many people tested their baking talents over the COVID shutdown. My wife took up painting. Several years ago, I spent a small fortune on a beautiful Nikon camera. Today, that’s not necessary. Most of our smartphones take unbelievably great photos, and you can even buy special lenses and attachments for making amazing videos and photos.
Embrace technology. You don’t have to be afraid of algorithms, computers, phones, or anything else. Technology is a wonderful tool! We must be vigilant about how we use it and the information we share (that’s a story for another time), but technology has added so much convenience to our lives that to ignore it can be a costly mistake.
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Avoid the slippery slope of decline
It has been said that the creative adult is the curious child who survived. Be that interested child. No matter how you decide to challenge yourself, remember that the key to success is finding something you enjoy. Pick a new challenge and get started today.
There is good evidence that curiosity is a protective factor as we age and is known to be associated with better memory and well-being. Unlike brain training, curious engagement may lead to lasting improvements in cognitive functioning.
So, what is a curious elder?
A curious elder has a grasp of the essence of living but wants more. Every day is an opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Every new piece of information becomes a part of who we are. Curiosity is a tool for lifelong learning and works equally well as an anti-aging tool. It allows us to be inventors, navigators, and explorers. Curiosity helps us stay young by keeping an open mind and continually learning new and exciting things.
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