The character strength of curiosity involves an active interest in life experiences and includes novelty seeking, exploration, and openness.
Here are five ways you can use curiosity to help you bring more passion, presence, and purpose to your life and relationships.
1. Draw upon Curiosity to help you make decisions, even small or simple ones. Last week, I stopped into one of my favorite home decorating stores, where I always find something new and exciting. Within minutes, I had found several things I wanted. As I carried a few items around the store, I started asking myself questions. How much do I like each item? Where will it go in my home? What purpose will it serve? Will I still love it in a year? I have been on a personal mission to declutter my home, simplify my spaces, and part with items that don’t bring me joy. Allowing myself the time to reflect on these questions before leaving the store, I saved myself a trip to the return counter and I saved room in the donation box for something else.
2. Leverage Curiosity to learn about yourself and increase your self-awareness. I realized that one of my three core values no longer “felt right” so I set aside some time last week to reflect on this. I’ve been making it a priority to ensure all of my personal and professional intentions and goals align to my values, so I really wanted them to be accurate. I came up with three possibilities then got out my journal to explore each of them further. I got curious about how these different values had been showing up in my life lately. Through this process of discovery, I was able to quickly clarify which one of the three was most prominent and made the adjustment to my top three core values.
3. Use your curiosity to explore and open yourself to new experiences. I attended a gong bath last week. The novelty of this had piqued my curiosity a few months ago. Since I wasn’t really sure what a gong bath was or what to expect, I went with no expectations. It turned out to be a meditation to the sound of a gong. During the meditation, I let go of mental distractions and through my presence, allowed myself to be open to the whole experience. I noticed bodily sensations, I felt emotion as I connected to Spirit, and I left feeling peaceful and calm.
4. Get curious to de-escalate issues, clear up misunderstandings, and deepen relationships. When I found myself getting frustrated during interactions with other people, I became curious about my reactions and reflected on what was triggering me. Rather than sticking with my story, assumptions, and beliefs, I made an effort to ask the other person questions to understand their perspective. I also asked myself, “How might it be possible that I’m not right in this situation?” Doing this helped me quickly de-escalate issues, change my perspective, and get out of my own way to strengthen the relationship.
5. Explore to bring more focus and intention to your work. I reflected on what the mission of my business is and where I want to focus my time and energy. I brought clarity to the different ways I’d like to make an impact and I generated a whole new list of ideas about how I might go accomplishing my mission. I spent time in inquiry, wondering how all of my Signature Strengths interact to make be a more effective coach and facilitator, and how to leverage my character strengths and my passions in the pursuit of my mission. Now I have a new, purposeful action plan that excites me!
Curiosity helps us explore and learn about ourselves and other people. We increase our wisdom as we become more open to new experiences and make new discoveries. How can you bring focused attention to the strength of curiosity this week? Here are just a few ideas.
“May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.”
Resources: Character Strengths and VIA Survey
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press. www.viacharacter.org
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. www.viacharacter.org
Brene Brown defines connection as: the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
When you’re truly connected with someone else, your trust in that person expands, and your relationship is strengthened. Too often, we don’t take the time to truly connect with others. We may speed through our day, connecting more with our technology than real people. Or maybe we only half-listen to others as we multi-task, trying to get one more thing done before day's end.
When true connections are absent, it’s easier for misunderstandings among us and other people to occur. We need to slow down and be physically, emotionally and energetically present with the people we’re with.
Each interaction is an opportunity for something more than just a transactional exchange of goods or information; we can approach each interaction with more presence to foster a heartfelt connection, and help someone feel seen, heard, valued.
I love this Social Connections exercise from Barbara Frederickson.
If you don't want to do the full scale, you can bring to mind your social interactions and reflect on questions such as these:
During my three longest social interactions:
o I felt fully present with the person I was with
o I felt connected to the person I was with
o I felt that the interaction was a positive one
How did you fare? Could your interactions benefit from more presence?
Reflect on how might your life be different if your three longest interactions each day are life giving rather than life draining, if they are sources of strength rather than disappointment?
Perhaps you want to set a goal of seeking out at least 3 interactions each day during which you are fully present and create a heartfelt connection.
As humans, we have a tendency to spend too much time and energy focusing on the negative or what goes wrong in our life or in our relationships and not enough time or energy savoring the good things.
Gratitude is a positive emotion that we can cultivate to help us feel happier and more satisfied overall. As an extra benefit, when we share our gratitude with others, we help our relationships grow stronger and closer.
We can cultivate more gratitude through a regular gratitude practice such as keeping a gratitude journal, taking a few moments throughout the day to reflect on our blessings, or by using the Three Things exercise.
With the Three Things exercise, you write down three good things that have happened to you over the last day or the last week (you choose the frequency that works for you). Once you've identified the Three Things, make a note about why each of these things happened - what was your role in bringing them to fruition? Then, take a moment to reflect on these situations and really feel your appreciation for them, and for your role in the situation.
When we take the next step to express gratitude to others in a thoughtful, purposeful manner, we strengthen our relationship with them. Barbara Fredrickson wrote that the best thank yous shine the spotlight on the qualities of the person who did the good deed. Rather than just thanking them and telling them how much their action or gift helped us, she encourages us to take it a step further and convey that we see and appreciate not only the other person’s action, but also their good qualities.
Here is an example of how I used to write Thank You notes:
Sarah, thank you so much for that book. I’m a few chapters in and it’s already been really helpful to me on my journey. I can’t wait to read the rest of it.
Here is the same Thank You note, highlighting Sarah's good qualities.
Sarah, thank you so much for that book. I’m only a few chapters in and it’s already been really helpful to me on my journey. You are always so thoughtful and willing to give of yourself. You listen without judgment, see where I’m struggling and then follow through with a great resource. I am so grateful to have you in my life.
See the difference? Sarah now knows that I've observed her good qualities. I've labeled them and have provided an example.
How do you cultivate gratitude in your life? In what ways do you express gratitude to others?
My challenge to you for this week is to experiment with at least one of these gratitude practices. Choose one and allow yourself the time to fully experience it. Savor the goodness. I'd love to hear how it goes for you!
Frederickson, Barbara. Love 2.0: Creating Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection
Seligman, Martin. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being