The Unexpected Consequence of a Curious Mind

Curiosity can be good for you!

John Tenniel - Illustration from The Nursery Alice (1890) - 066110Research shows that curiosity improves learning and memory for things we are not even interested in.

From nursery school through graduate school we try to give the “correct” answers on tests. While those answers may have validity, if they are the only things we learn, our lives are limited to what someone else decides we should know or think. Unfortunately, we aren’t taught to ask questions that would expand what we learn.

That is why I was pleased to read an article in Psychology Today titled “The Secret Benefits of a Curious Mind.”

It reinforced the idea behind my second book, Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life, which is that when we learn to ask questions, we expand our understanding of the world beyond what we have learned in school and have acquired from the limited experience of family and friends.

In fact, a recent study in the field of cognitive neuroscience from the University of California provides surprising insights into the interesting link between asking ourselves questions — which is curiosity about ourselves — and other learning and memory. In other words, there is now solid evidence that, in the very act of being curious, we can learn things we hadn’t even intended to learn. It is as though curiosity begets curiosity.

The article quotes Albert Einstein as saying, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” In other words, he attributed his intelligence and success to having a curious mind. Now it seems that there is evidence that we, too, can improve our minds simply by being curious!

So if you are curious about learning more about recent research on the topic, check out the Psychology Today article for evidence that a curious state of mind improves learning and memory for things we are not even interested in.

How Little of the World Any of Us Sees

Today’s featured video explores the concept of “onism”

If you’ve been following the blog the last month or so, you will have seen a couple of videos by John Koenig. He is the creator of “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” a compendium of invented words to express something for which ordinary dictionaries don’t have a word.

The one I want to share today is “onism” — the awareness of how little of the world we will ever experience.

In explaining this, he says:

Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die — and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

That was definitely my experience when I went on that trip to Portugal and Spain in April. All those places to visit; so few are places I’ve been or will ever be. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy where I am as well as I can.

After the video, the author commented on the YouTube page:

Imagine how much more rich and satisfying it would be to have TWO bodies, not just one—so you could escape yourself for a while and live on either sides of the planet, or take a step back and see yourself whole, in full context with the rest of the world, with your face the right way around, your eyes unflattened, just as vivid as you appear to other people. It would be like those rapturous moments when one of your ears becomes unclogged and you can suddenly hear in stereo.

A Trip to Alaska Can Change a Relationship

Ladder leading to pictureThis post is part of the “Step Into Pictures” series that offers you a new way to explore both difficult relationships and those you treasure. Visit the Step Into Pictures Archive to learn more about it.

07-13-15 - Fearman-Alaskan-inlet - large

Click on picture to see enlarged view

Tomorrow I will be on my way to take pictures in places just like this. You see, I’m joining my daughter and her family for two weeks in Alaska, where I’ll have the chance to renew my acquaintance with beautiful mountains and lakes.

When I come back, I hope to have many pictures I can turn into “paintings” with the free FotoSketcher program I’ve talked about before.

But for now, I want to give you a real painting that required the skill and technique of a real painter. I encourage you to enter it in your imagination and take someone with you. Perhaps it would be someone with whom you have a problem and you could imagine me already being there in that cabin, encouraging you to find a resolution to your differences.

Or maybe, you’d like a good friend to join you and you could talk about how wonderful it is to have someone special with whom you can enjoy pleasures in life — like the times when you can get away from it all.

Enjoy your step-in-pictures journey today and please take a few moments to actually spend time imagining yourself in this painting by the talented Lynne Fearman titled “Alaskan Inlet.”

You can visit her website, Lynne Fearman Art, to see other scenes into which you might want to enter.

Creating Your Love Together

This is the fourth post of advice from Opening to Love 365 Days a Year by Judith Sherven, PhD, and James Sniechowski, PhD.

It takes two people working together to make a marriage work.

— Dear Abby

Right from the first moment you met, when you both began teaching each other how you expected the relationship to be, you were co-creating your relationship. Like a work of art, you jointly shaped what you now have. You are responsible for your choices and therein awaits your power.

If you don’t like how your marriage works, it will take both of you to change and re-create it. If one of you won’t do that, you don’t really have a relationship—because real love requires both of you to be involved.

Intimacy is like a dance. It always takes both of you to co-create the steps you agree to take together. Today, agree to co-create something a bit different than you’re used to. Perhaps you’ll decide to take a walk after dinner holding hands or describe to each other when you felt the most happy in your life. You must CREATE THE INTIMACY of your marriage together.

Reinforce today’s ideas by saying this to yourself:

I know that lasting love is co-created.

Seen Any Aliens Lately?

On June 22, I told you about the Kurzgesagt videos that combine science, minimalism, colors and music to tell stories.

The video of theirs that I share today uses the Fermi Paradox to explore why, with trillions of stars and even more planets, we may think that there should be aliens, but where are they? And is it possible that if we haven’t seen them, there probably aren’t any?

More importantly, what does this tell us about our own fate in this gigantic and scary universe?

Incidentally, when we look at the incredible vastness of space, it seems reasonable to assume that space travel is best left to science fiction.