To begin, let’s explore what it means to pay attention.
When we pay attention, we are practicing curiosity, observation, awareness, alertness, mindfulness.
Soak up broad, general knowledge. Use your senses to engage the world around you. Be aware of what you don’t know.
Jump in. Start small.
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ~Goethe
If you make elaborate plans, it won’t happen. If you wait until you have time, it won’t happen.
You will likely be more successful cultivating a spirit of curiosity if you first transform habits already deeply engrained in your daily routine rather than creating entirely new habits.
How do you currently spend your free time? What already comes easily to you? What are your interests?
When you add up all the seconds here and minutes there, do you spend large quantities of time on Facebook? Follow pages that share interesting pictures, articles, or videos.
Do you enjoy reading novels? Plug in a few historical fiction novels or non-fiction books that read like novels. Or pick up some classics or modern classics you missed in high school or college.
Do you find it difficult to pick up a book, but always check your email? Have a book you’ve always wanted to read sent to your inbox in short, daily passages. Use your email to subscribe to fascinating blogs.
At the end of the day, do you find yourself with no physical or mental energy for anything other than crashing on the couch for some screen time? Add a few high-interest documentaries to your queue.
Do you spend long periods of time in the car? Pick up an audio book at the library. Listen to a new musical artist.
Do you prefer to pass your free hours in the great outdoors? Grab a field guild and go for a hike!
Do you enjoy journaling or sketching? Start a nature journal.
Do you spend more hours than you would like to admit surfing YouTube videos? YouTube is one of my favorite destinations for short, fascinating educational videos!
Do you enjoy playing card or board games with friends or family? Insert an educational, trivia, or strategy game into the rotation.
Do you love to curl up with a stack of magazines? Subscribe to a magazine that will give you something new to think about.
Do you enjoy conversations with friends? Ask good questions. Find out what other people are curious or passionate about.
“Can you entertain yourself at a boring meeting, while camping, while conversing at a dinner party? The educated man can, and he does it, ironically enough, by retaining an important ability of his childhood—curiosity. The educated man is insatiably curious about the world around him and other people. In any situation, he sees something to learn, study, and observe. If he’s stuck somewhere with neither phone nor company, he uses the time to untangle a philosophical problem he’s been wrestling with; the mind of the educated man is a repository of ideas that he can pull out and examine to pass the time in any situation.” ~Brett & Kate McKay, The 3 Characteristics of an Educated Man @ The Art of Manliness
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Identify how you currently enjoy your down time, even if it is in the small cracks and crevices of a busy schedule. Choose one current habit or moment of your routine that you can use to intentionally cultivate curiosity in your life.
- Choose one resource (Facebook page, YouTube channel, Netflix documentary, email subscription, or game) and plug it into your daily or weekly routine.