Does Curiosity Diminish With Age?
Curiosity is the spirit of life which we all have as children. We start out wanting to learn about the world and everything new is bright shiny and exciting – albeit scary at times!
But as we get older there’s an inner battle that springs up between the anxiety of life and the curious spirit. We learn to conform and this in turn dampens down our instinct to explore. For instance, we stop asking questions because we’re afraid of getting it wrong and being ridiculed. We stop putting ourselves in positions where we feel uncomfortable or vulnerable.
It’s in the pursuit of security and comfort that we lose sight of what really drives us. It begins the day we start school! We’re trained to follow the rules and we stop listening to our natural curious instincts. We forget to ask ourselves what it is that excites us. We don’t allow ourselves to be motivated by our free spirit anymore.
Those who live with the greatest fear of the unknown, such as what to do should they lose their job tend to be less open and curious. This is known as ‘hyper-avoidance’ of distress. But by becoming curious about the situation it can actually lower the level of stress.
There’s an interesting study by Harvard University under taken by Ellen Langer designed to highlight how being curious can transform anxiety. She asked a group of volunteers to give unprepared random speeches to an audience. She assigned the students to one of three groups to undertake the study. The first group were told not to mistakes as mistakes are bad. The second group were told that should they make mistakes, then they would be forgiven. The third group on the other hand were told to actively incorporate deliberate mistakes into their presentation.
The findings were very interesting as it was the third group who not only felt more comfortable in front of their audience but the audience also rated them to be the most composed, effective and intelligent of the three groups. This experiment demonstrates that if we can shift our focus from what scares us to what interests us, then our inhibitions fall away because anxiety and desire are two sides of the same coin.
So does curiosity diminish with age?
Only if we let it! To take an entrepreneurial path it’s often necessary to go back and undo those early mind conditioning files that were planted at an early age. And then replace them with more supportive ‘open and curious’ files that allow our spirit to be free to create situations that we can learn and grow from.
Kick start the process by beginning to recognise the times when you start to feel uncomfortable. It’s these times that you have an opportunity to grow. Curiosity can be contagious too as the people around us begin to interact and take an interest in new things too. Time to get curious then!
Article by: Wendy Howard, Spirit of Venus, www.spiritofvenus.co.uk & www.grow-training.com