Cultivate a Curious Mind, Part 2
Overcoming Boredom with Curiosity: Stop Labeling
Habitually checking our phones has often become our default way to escape boredom. Curiosity about the world around you and how you interact with it not only tames boredom, but can also enrich your life.
Labeling things closes you off to new ideas or ways of looking at your environment. Your mind marks what you’re looking at as “complete,” and therefore not open to other ways of seeing it. When we label things as “boring” we’re telling ourselves that they’re not worth investigating further; that we already know everything interesting or useful about it.
Expecting to be bored, say while standing at the checkout line, leads directly to boredom (or to checking our phones in order to avoid boredom.) Expecting to find something interesting, instead, causes you to pay more attention to your surroundings. It puts you on the lookout. Make finding what’s interesting in ANY situation you’re in like going on a treasure hunt. You are—and what fun that can be!
Often we’re just looking for the quickest, most efficient way to get things done. However, challenging yourself and experimenting with doing things differently doesn’t necessarily take more time—and it can be more efficient for your long term goal of a happy and interesting life. What might you discover by taking a different route home on your commute? How quickly can you become skilled at brushing your teeth with your opposite hand? (You never know when that skill may come in handy!) Doing everyday things in a different way helps train your mind to be more curious and agile.
Seeking out new topics to be interested in can open the door to worlds that you hadn’t imagined and enrich your life:
o Read different genres of books, or books featuring people very different from you
o Listen to new genres of music/look at different genres of art
o Seek out friends who are different from you
It’s an amazing world
Give yourself the gift of amazement at everyday things. Look at the world with a beginner’s mind. Really look at that flower in the picture.
Scrutinize it as if you were going to paint it, noticing the different shades of the same color, rather than just labeling it all yellow. Ask yourself other questions. How can you tell whether this is a newly blossomed flower or a fading one? When you see interesting things in the world, stop and photograph them, even if it’s only with your phone.
Challenge yourself to do (at least) one thing in a more fun way each day. Put this challenge on your to do list and keep track. Check in after a month to see any changes in your life. (hint: look for the changes like you’re on a treasure hunt.) Even the act of looking for fun and challenging yourself can banish boredom.
Check back next week for the third installment in this series.
Share your experiences with me in the comments section below