The other day I was driving to work when a heard a radio commercial about a little boy asking his dad, “Daddy, why the sky is blue?”. The man responded, “now where did that come from?” and avoided the question. After that, the commercial continued with the (utterly irrelevant to the opening story) product. It was at that moment, I realized, a professional advertising company has chosen to go with a model of turning down childlike curiosity.
You may think: “George, relax man, it’s just a commercial, shut up and go to work.”
As you can tell, I am not a father, but it is always interesting to take a step back and examine which behaviors we consider normal, just because “most people do it.”
This example is the tip of the iceberg of the unconscious or conscious act of shutting down the childlike curiosity.
How we abandon our childlike curiosity
As we make our first steps through school, we are continually guided by our teachers, parents, and books. We spend 12 years in school (at least in Greece) to follow specific thought patterns. As the pile of “knowledge,” we get from school raises the creative aspect that wants to burst out, diminishes. And the best part is that we are too young to notice this process. As the book Mastery states:
As we enter this new world, it is essential to learn the rules.
We learn how to behave in school, in church, in social gatherings. Putting all these rules together, we are left with little space for our childlike curiosity.
In the book “The four Αgreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz describes this phenomenon as the entrance from our own dream to the world’s “dream”. By “dream,” it refers to our society’s unwritten and written laws.
We learn so much stuff that we overlook to teach ourselves how to take care of our hunger to explore the world.
Let’s explore the value of childlike curiosity
Overcoming the fear of brain inability
Most people, especially the ages 40+, have convinced themselves that they have attained their maximum brain capacity when it comes to acquiring knowledge.
If you can relate to that belief, I am sure you will find the following fact astonishing as well as disturbing:
There have been studies proving that a 20 yearold human has an equal number of nerve cells to a 70 yearold.
No matter the proof, people still believe that they suffer from a “natural” brain disability that comes from getting older. Following that road leads to rigid thinking and restraining your own brain and potential.
Children, on the other hand, have a completely different perception of the world. Their curiosity remains endless; they are not “brainwashed” by society’s unproven rules about “brain ageing” and naturally, they stand unwilling to stop questioning that’s around them.
What I am trying to say is that “childlike curiosity is a choice.” You can open your mind to new knowledge, give more attention to the daily tasks, and thus learn more efficiently any additional information that comes into your way.
I sympathize with the emotion of feeling safe based on the assumption that you learned anything you need, hence reached a place when anything new can threaten your identity.
However, it’s purely a matter of choice, and let’s not fool ourselves, a challenging one.
Using your childlike curiosity to find your purpose
A part of Thomas Edison’s success was the combination of inner calling for how mechanical things work and his endless childlike curiosity. Of course, there are other features such as the system of selling and purchasing patents (that most of his scientists made), but beyond from that as his biographer thinks:
He was more or less a regular boy of his time and place.
When you and I were kids, we experienced a kind of emotional distance from every task we carried out. The way we focused on a new lego construction, a drawing, or even playing music with our little fingers (I still remember my brother playing in a 10euro guitar and enjoying it like hell) was deprived of terms “carrier path” “productivity” “procrastination” “achievement.”
Robert Green, in his book Mastery suggests that we can go back to our past experiences and glimpse what fulfilled us deeply.
What was your natural inclination?
What did you enjoy doing so much that when you did it, everything else disappeared?
It is widespread to get distracted from your original calling when you are making a great effort to understand the rules of the world. But as Mr.Greene states:
The fact that every one of us has an inner impulse towards an activity doesn’t mean that “he/she is a natural” and everything will flow in perfect order. There is a great deal of exercise and devotion that has to be done to achieve your goals.
To find your purpose, you ought to give time as well. Don’t be swift in your judgments about the field you are good/bad at. The combination of childlike curiosity and patience is essential to find your purpose.