Curiosity is your inner monkey. Naturally active, energetic, but also self-indulgent and rebellious. We need it for performance, progress and to awaken our inventive spirit. Still, ceaseless wandering of your mind – the whys and hows – and restless output of energy deplete your limited reserves.
Problems with curiosity and science-based cures
The battle of the mind is inflamed by being constantly distracted by something unknown and being self-indulgent has also negative aspects.
- First, your mind cannot be calm in the constantly activated stream of consciousness.
- Second, if you want to be in the moment you must be able to hit pause on your curiosity player.
- Third, craving pleasure frequently and being fixated on sexual curiosity can sneak in troubles from the emotional rollercoaster of physiological harm to broken marriages.
Our hormones rule our mind if we let them on the loose. In Jane Austen’s novel The Pride and Prejudice, not only vanities complicate the protagonists lives. The reason-stripped curiosity of the teenage daughter of Mr. Bennet Lydia, explicit in her emotional socialising, leads to her running off with a man who has no intention of marrying her. The marriage happens only due to the contribution of the wealthy Mr. Darcy, who pays for the wedding. Not everyone’s untamed curiosity is as fortunate to be rescued from trouble, but there are some powerful tools to control it. The research in neuroscience confirms that “the flow of thoughts actually sculpts the brain” and that that “you, too, can use your mind to shape your brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom“, write Rick Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, MD in their scientifically sound book Buddha’s Brain. Mindfulness can rescue us from the whirl of curiosity, and we should employ mindfulness meditation into our lives for sense of wellbeing.
The organic playfulness of curiosity also symbolises youth and intuition
Curiosity is not the search for perfection. Curiosity is genuine and intuitive, while perfection is a mirage, a construct which actually does not exist. What is your favourite piece of art, and what your friends adore? Who is beautiful to your eye, but who your siblings adore? There are certainly differences in the personal images of perfection. Perhaps because of the inherent honesty in human curiosity I have always been attracted to this character trait. I feel it is a waste of time to seek perfection around or in ourselves, instead we should be intuitively curious about the world. Witnessing beauty without judgement makes it last eternally, for once we engage with it we ruin the mirage. The Buddhists rise the awareness that everything changes, beauty inclusive.
We must learn to know who we really are and strive for being better, one step at the time. The energy involved in curiosity injects the youth association with it, yet there are many elderly people whose curiosity drives them until their very late life. Artists like Gauguin, Hemingway or the mother of the chefs at one of the best restaurants in the world El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, who forages and inspires the work of her sons through her own curiosity.
In the Chinese zodiac, the monkey (curiosity) year also symbolises intuition. Further, the yang energy of the monkey is demonstrated through the person born in that time as being determined, persistent and workaholic. Let’s contemplate. Does curiosity lead to overload? If you are curious are you unstoppable?
Some social breaks to curiosity exist. Our belief in God and other spiritual pursuits are driven by human curiosity, and these extraterrestrial feats keep our curiosity on the leash. At least when our faith is strong enough.
Childish versus adult curiosity
Christmas are a blooming field of curiosity for children whose minds are more open than our adult hybrids constrained by reasoning. As a freedom seeker, I envy those lively minds! Expressing one’s zest for existence embodies a happy person. But, how many adults do you know, who are genuinely that way? I observed such “la dolce vita” attitude in some elderly Italian men, and in places where women have more social recognition, respect, and once freed from the emotional burdens of raising children, their curiosity somehow recharges the temporarily shut barriers in their minds. As if their emotional overload with children matured into wise curiosity informed by life’s unexpected turns.
Once liberated, our adult curiosity can be enriched by life’s experiences, the relationships that formed us, made us happy or disappointed. The adult monkey brain spins wisdom into our curious expression. I wrote about how giving rewards us with happiness. Individuals engaged in charity think that they have a more fulfilling life than when they were only focused on the self. I experience the endorphins rushing in after any selfless action. Recently, the most lips-lifting experience for me was the elation of a wheelchair-bound Spanish street guitar player after I handed him money. A singsong of “gracias, mira, whah, wow, yay!” while clinching the valuable banknote in his skeleton fingertips sated me though his genuine happiness. As much as joy is an inner construct, our interactions with others and nature play important roles in experiencing the fleeting moments of happiness.
Giving is so much more powerful than receiving. For months-thread ideas get their welcoming reception.
Balance between creativity and achievement
Curiosity can like a dishevelled and disorganised tramp bounce in the mind’s playing court of eternal possibilities. A bohemian mind acts like a flâneur thrust into the Mistral wind – Without clearly set direction, the flow of consciousness swirls and spirals into tornadoes of emotions. It creates but does not complete. How can then the eye of the tornado wrestling with yourself ever fulfil, and leave some time to be aware of where we are? Having a balanced craving for happiness is key to achieving it, if you are overdriven towards the nirvana of the eternal contentment than you will miss it along the way.
So, is the monkey in you contributing to happiness?
Yes, since curiosity keeps you engaged with the world and the self.
But not in the realm of expanded yang force that causes imbalance in the holistic understanding of the life’s energy. The curious monkey needs some yin focus and contentment with what there is, not constantly seeking what there possibly could be.
Be curious, but aware that switching off regularly is good for you.