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Don't waste time worrying, instead open up to curiosity

As human beings, we are innately drawn to novelty—to things that are new to us. We see this clearly in infants and young children—their sense of curiosity and wonder is so often on display.

As adults, however, we have an inherited bias to worry. After all, if our ancestors hadn't worried about whether something new was a threat to their survival, we may not be here today.

But this tendency to worry is less useful in the United States today. Most of our lives are spent in relative safety, which allows us to open ourselves to curiosity and wonder. And worrying can have negative effects on our health and well-being.

So, what is the difference between being a worrier and being someone who is curious?

A worrier: 

  • wants certainty and are disappointed when they don't get it 
  • feels a strong need to explain and control what is happening in their lives 
  • becomes tense when they are unsure 
  • spends a lot of time worrying over things that will never happen 
  • is frequently exhausted at the end of the day 

A curious person:

  • makes a conscious decision to pay attention to and recognize novelty in both familiar and unfamiliar situations 
  • embraces uncertainty 
  • is flexible
  • explores both the positive and negative parts of a situation 
  • embraces the opportunity to explore, learn and grow 

If you spent your day as a curious person, do you believe you would feel as exhausted as the worrier? Would adopting an attitude of curiosity serve you better as the pace of change continues to accelerate all around us?

Next time you find yourself starting to worry, try one of these exercises to move yourself to a place of curiosity:  

  1. The next time you find yourself stuck in the "slowest" checkout line, instead of fretting and worrying about this wasted time, ask yourself, "I wonder what I am supposed to notice as I wait in this line?" Open up to curiosity instead of worry and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that you make it to the front of the line in a much calmer, happier frame of mind.
  2. Plan a walk outdoors and set the intention that you will pay attention to every bodily sensation you experience as you move as well as the sights, sounds and smells you encounter along the way.

When you stop worrying, you may find you're spending more of your time open to a sense of curiosity and wonder.

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