“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” - Albert Einstein
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” - Leo Burnett
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most diversely talented individuals ever, was infinitely curious. He carried a notebook with him wherever he went and wrote down or sketched anything that aroused his curiosity. While best known for his paintings, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, he was also a sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer and inventor.
Being curious is a way of inviting creativity and can open us up to our unique genius. It opens our mind to make new connections and consider new possibilities. Albert Einstein attributed his brilliance to being passionately curious. Writer Henry James suggested to help your writing, “Try to be someone on whom nothing is lost.” With my writing students and coaching clients, I ask them to shake things up and do new things or visit a place they have never been before. Without curiosity, without "I wonder what would happen if I tried. . .", we would never create anything new.
Between my own creative work as a writer and my interest in nature, my curiosity about the world is finely honed. I love to eavesdrop on conversations or watch people in cafes, not out of noisiness, but a real interest in other people's lives and the wonderful range of possibilities for being human. I often get ideas for my writing that way. I'll make up stories about people to exercise my imagination.
Paying attention and being curious as I walk in Nature is a great way to practice mindfulness and live in the moment. It also allows me to feel connected to and nourished by a larger world. Observing Nature's great capacity as an artist also provides inspiration for my own creative work.
One of the things that ages us is doing the same old, same old over and over again. We do the same thing everyday, drive the same way to work, eat the same foods. The neural nets in our brain actually get rutted by our habits. Developing a habit of being curious and trying new things can keep us open to new possibilities and help keep us young as well as increasing our ability to be more creative.
TRY THIS: What are you curious about? It could be about trying a new recipe or visiting a new store that just opened. It could involve exploring a new place to walk or reading a book about a field you don’t know anything about but feel a pull toward. What can you do today to start building the muscle of your curiosity?