“Being curious is better than being smart.” — James Clear
Curiosity is a propellent that ignites growth. Being smart is about using what you know in the best way possible. Yet, you’re still limited by what you know. It is curiosity that pushes you to explore beyond the boundaries of what you know.
The word “curiosity” comes from the Latin curiositatem; “desire of knowledge, inquisitiveness“. And obviously, it’s connected to the Latin word curiosus “careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome“.
So, when we nurture our curiosity, the unknown becomes like a magnet, calling us to explore and inquire.
To do so, to cultivate a mindset of curiosity, we must train ourselves to look at things with fresh eyes. As if everything is new, with the same awe of a child exploring the world.
I also found it fascinating that the word curiosity is akin to cura, “care”. A curious person is also someone who takes “care” of something. And that made me realise that the other ingredient of a curious person is love.
Love is what gives us the courage to go beyond the resistance created by fear. It is vital to act on curiosity.
“Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really, pressure and time. That, and big goddamn poster.” — The Shawshank Redemption
Andy, the main character of the movie, spent 20 years digging a hole in the wall of his prison’s cell, a few crumbs at a time. He applied a little pressure for enough time until he was able to escape the prison and gain freedom.
When we are going through a tough moment, or we feel trapped in a difficult situation, we dream about a significant change. Something that shakes our world, turns things upside-down and redefines our life.
And while we wait for this defining moment, time goes by, and it eats up our energy. At the point that, even when that moment comes, we are not able to seize it.
“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.” — James Clear
There is always something small you can do. It may seem insignificant at that time, but if you are consistent, you can build massive transformation.
Geological transformations are massive, we talk about continents moving and mountains emerging or disappearing. Yet, you can stare at a mountain for a whole life without seeing the slightest change. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not happening.
Decide who you want to become, find the tiniest action you can do every day to be that person, and then do it.
Pressure and time.
That’s all you need.
This morning I picked the card “Ritual” for my morning reflections. Then, when I opened the laptop to write this post, I realised this is the apple number six hundred.
This ritual has been going on for quite a while now.
When I started, I planned to do it for 90 days in a row and then stop. But then it was such an enjoyable experience that I’ve decided to keep going. Every now and when I ask myself when will I stop. Will I ever reach the destination of this journey? Is there a destination at all?
I don’t know. What I know, or I should better say what I feel is that this small ritual of mine is aligned with who I am. I’m an explorer, and like any explorer, I have my journal or logbook to keep track of my discoveries so one day I’ll be able to share them with the world.
I’m well aware that celebrating significant milestones is essential. And this is one of those. It means I’ve spent 600 mornings in the last two years or so, writing and sharing something. Who would have known that someone like me, who gets quickly bored, would have stick to a habit like this one for so long? I know now that this is possible only when the practice becomes part of our identity. So, this morning post is definitely part of who I am.
With that in mind, I’m already thinking about the next post. The one I was planning to write today before I realise it was time to celebrate.
So, be aware, I have no plan to stop.
The ache in my back woke me up early, a good half an hour before the planned alarm.
I lurch to the kitchen with my eyes half-closed. It was still dark outside. Or at least, it looked dark to me
I remember thinking that I needed just a few minutes on the couch, to let the pang in my back dissolve before doing my morning exercises.
So, I slump on the couch.
Just a few minutes.
The next thing I recollect was my partner telling me there we were late for our appointment.
No time for my morning practice.
“Nevermind”, I thought, “I’ll recover late, we will have plenty of waiting time through the morning”.
Reality is that I felt slow and sleepy all day. I even struggled to find enough energy to read a novel for more than 10 minutes.
So, yesterday I slipped.
No exercises, no meditation, no daily apple.
It happens. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.
And there is always something to learn, in particular when we fail.
Yesterday, I learned that the twenty minutes I spent every morning doing some physical exercises are not only beneficial for my health. They literally awaken my body and my mind. It’s like sending an energy shock through my whole system re-activating it after the night.
Having skipped that, I’ve been sleepy and sluggish all day, unable to focus on anything.
I’ve also learned that my morning practices are now part of my identity. So, even if I miss one day, I can effortlessly get back to my rituals the day after.
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.” — Atomic Habits by James Clear
I took a few days off from this little project of mine. Even more, I paused the whole morning routine for a week.
No exercise, no meditation and no writing.
I understood that it was necessary after writing the previous daily apple last Monday. At the end of my fifteen minutes writing process, I was spent. I had to push the words out instead of letting them flow, and that depleted my energy. I’m not sure when it started, but it wasn’t energising anymore.
I needed to rest. So I put the morning writing on hold.
And with it everything else.
In fact, this recovery pause made me realise that this tiredness was affecting everything in my life.
My to-do list was crushing me. I had things in it that I’ve been postponing for weeks, some even for months.
And they were hunting me, pushing me to keep doing stuff even if my energy was gone and I wasn’t really able to take any step further.
So, I did something a bit crazy.
I didn’t just pause the to-do list, I wiped it clean. I deleted all the things to do that I wasn’t doing. I thought that if they were still there after weeks than the key to making that happen surely was not that busy do-do list.
So, I cleaned it.
And you know what. The day after I cleaned my to-do list, I completed one of the tasks that I’ve been dragging for months.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I think it’s not.
Sometimes we put so much weight on things that we aren’t unable to move them forward. The moment we give up, we lift that weight and voilá, the magic happens.