March 14, 2023

Our ability to be curious is correlated with our ability to LIVE, not simply exist.

Curiosity has the power to improve our relationship with ourselves, our sense of fun/play, our connection with our loved ones, our motivation, and our ability to enjoy life.

Are you curious to listen to this episode? I hope so!

Get started now, and let me know what you think.

With love and gratitude,
Israel. xo



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Welcome to the Illuminating Lives podcast. I’m Israel Smith mindset and performance coach for successful high achievers. Just like you, we want more meaning and purpose in your life without the stress, burnout and overwork. I’ll share how you can make simple changes to your mindset, habits and choices to stop those racing thoughts or angry outbursts and create more time, more energy, more balance, and a lighter, calmer head and heart.

This podcast is for you. If you’re ready to learn how to thrive in our uncertain world. Prioritize your own well-being and mental health. Improve your relationships with your partner and kids. Rediscover some fun, and just get back on track to living your best life every day. I’m stoked that you’re here.

Welcome back to you, dear listener. It’s the Illuminating Lives podcast. I’m Israel Smith, your host, and I’m stoked to have you here. Thank you for joining me for another episode. Number five in season five, fifth of the fifth for whatever that means today. Let’s get curious. Today, I want to ask you the question, what are you curious about? And let’s together commit to letting our curiosity lead us.

I’m doing this as much as I can in my life, but that’s why I titled this episode Let Your Curiosity lead you. What are you curious about? Why does this even matter? What the hell is this guy going on about? Let’s get started. All right. So I want to begin with the definition. Curiosity, as told by goodness me, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, which is what am up straightaway in my browser when I said define curiosity.

It’s a noun, it’s a thing. And number one, a desire to know or learn. How beautiful and simple is that a desire to know or learn? Curiosity is wanting to know or to learn about something someone, an object, a process, a person. Right now, whether that is because of, you know, it’s extreme novel or uniqueness, or whether it’s just because it’s mundane, it doesn’t matter.

When we get curious. It’s because we want to know more. We want to lean in. We want to find out. So why does this even matter? I’ve been reflecting on this because I have kids. One of them’s a teenager. She’s turning 17 in a matter of like two months. And my other one has just started high school. So they’re both in a really fascinating slice of life.

And I am noticing in myself that a bad habit has crept in to my communications with them. So I’m working on this. The habit is this I think I know best. I think I know what path the conversation is going to take. And consequently I’ve slipped into this habit of cutting them off and not letting them express themselves and not letting them tell their truth or their side of the story.

Because I think I know best. Now, I’m sure you can hear as you listen to this just how foolish this approach is, Right? It doesn’t you don’t need to be a friggin rocket scientist to be able to see that this is a highway to disaster. But sometimes we need a little shake up. And I was having a chat with my youngest sister about this and about how she works with clients in a kind of a counseling psychology, social work, support sort of space.

I’m doing a terrible job of describing her role. She’s amazing at what she does, but she helps people who sometimes have really intense emotions and part of how she helps them handle that, I learned the other day is that she just let them go. So if someone’s having a real meltdown or someone’s got so much anger and rage, she’s like, Cool, get it all out.

No, get louder, No yell or fire up. And in that process, they start to understand themselves better and they know what their range is. They know what their thresholds are about when it goes too far for themselves, when they risk hurting themselves with their emotions versus when it’s in a safe range. And sometimes for some of these kids that she works with, they haven’t had a safe experience of being able to express their emotions.

And that hit me like a punch in the gut. I went, Oh, I did that to my kids. I shut them down when they get emotional because I think I know best or because I don’t want them to really ramp up on me when actually they need to fully express the range of their emotions. And as I’ve been exploring this in myself, it’s prompted me to ask the question, what can I get curious about?

Instead of coming to the conversation with my kids as though I have all the answers, as though I know best, which I don’t. Clearly, I’m the first person to put my hand up and say I’m figuring shit out just as much as the next person. But my curiosity is like, it’s like the Holy Grail. If I can stay curious and just learn and be open and try and understand as best as I can follow that definition, you know, desire to know and learn, then I have a far better chance of really connecting with my kids, really uncovering what’s going on and getting into their world.

Right? So my curiosity in relationships and in communication I’m starting to learn is a real boost. It’s a really wonderful skill to cultivate because that curiosity in those situations helps create a deeper connection. It helps create better, more peaceful, but also more productive communication rather than being, you know, adversarial almost, and creating a conflict by this, allowing them to express themselves or cutting things off.

I’m learning that curiosity is the path. And the more I started reflecting on that, the more I started to think about how curiosity is actually the path that we really ought to follow in a lot of areas of our life coming to learn about ourselves. What are we interested in? What do we like? What don’t we like? What motivates us?

What do we need to know about ourselves to be our best? Right? This year has also been a process of curiosity for me about my own habits relating to health and well-being. I’ve mentioned in previous episodes last year especially that I really wanted to shed a bit of weight and I wanted to get a bit healthier. And so that actually prompted me to start a new practice of creating better habits.

And I’ve had to get curious about, okay, well, what are the things that are likely to stop me here? What are some of the roadblocks that my brain is going to put up or that my current environment is going to lead me away from or towards? Getting curious has helped me build better habits about meditation, better habits about exercise daily or as close to daily as I possibly can.

And it’s helped me get to know myself. Also, my own emotional and mental and energy patterns. Right? I get I don’t seen this consistently in the last three or four times. I get thrown for a loop around the new moon and sometimes around the full moon. Something about the energy of those two moon cycles. It just sends me out of my normal center.

It takes me out of my normal groove that I’m in and it throws me for a bit of a loop. So I’m getting curious about what do I need to do to manage myself and to give myself what I need through those phases. So curiosity is a tool that we can use to better understand ourselves as well as create better connection and communication in our relationships.

But I’ve also used curiosity with some of my clients, so some of my clients have lived lives where they’ve not really ever been allowed or encouraged to simply play and have fun and explore new hobbies or new activities or new sports or new things. And it’s absolutely critically essential as humans that we have some sort of fun or joy or play in our life.

It’s not just the domain of kids for us to live a really healthy, really well-rounded life. We need to have some of those moments of joy and fun and play ideally every day, but at least something each week that we can look forward to. That simply gives us the sheer joy of being. Now, for people whose play and joy and fun centers have been kind of atrophy through the pressure of society and business and family and expectations and all that kind of stuff.

Where do we start then? Where we start with curiosity? What are you interested in? What are some things that intrigue you, that pique your interest, that get you wanting to, desiring to know or to learn more? And so, you know, I’m thinking about one of my clients in particular here when I asked him, What do you do for fun, he said, I’ve no idea.

What are you what are your hobbies? I don’t have any. Okay. So then I said, Well, what are some things that you’re curious about? And he said, I’m really fascinated by Spice. I said, Awesome, let’s write that down. And that can be a starting point. Let your curiosity lead you into wherever that goes. Now, as it turned out, he wrote that down, and within two weeks, purely by chance, he met someone at a networking event who happened to run a company responsible for launching satellites.

Bingo. He had a great opportunity to connect with this person and he just told me about the conversation being so interesting and so uplifting because it was satisfying his curiosity. It was giving him something fun and playful and not related to any aspect of his other life or to the rest of his life. So that’s the power of curiosity when it comes to play and fun, letting our curiosity lead us to what we’re interested in, what find what we find fascinating.

It’s like a it’s like a shortcut back to our sense of childlike wonder, right where we go somewhere new, we’re just like, wide open. Wow, look at this. You know, that that sense of fascination, that sense of awe comes from at its heart, curiosity, wanting to learn more about the world right now. The other thing about curiosity that I’ve been reflecting on is that we need to embrace the idea that we don’t know.

This is for me especially. I’m saying that just as much as for you. I need to embrace the the truth, that I have no fricking idea what is going on for my kids. I have no idea what it’s like to be at 12 or nearly 17 year old moving through the world in their various spaces, dealing with what’s going on for them at school, with their friend groups, online, whatever.

I have no concept, right, no frame of reference for that because I’m 45. For me, that was a minimum of like 30 years ago, right? My 28 and I have no concept right of what being a teenager in 2023 is like. So choosing the path of embracing, not knowing and allowing myself to find out until learn to be open, to be unattached, to the outcomes, to be willing to experiment.

All of these things are part of letting our curiosity lead us. It’s like that, that crazy lightness that we have in a new environment or a new situation where we just are able to fully be present in that moment of something new and just go, Oh, this is just extraordinary. All right. Again, it’s rooted in curiosity and learning and being Here’s the shadow side of this conversation.

When we are no longer curious about ourselves, about our partners, about our children, about our work, about our our lives, about the world, about our communities. When our career, how I’ll get there eventually when our curiosity dies or when it is stifled or when it atrophies, then we atrophy as people, we are kept alive. We are kept vital.

We are moving beyond the realm of simply existing. We get into this space of truly living that rich, exciting life. When we have curiosity brought. Travel is a beautiful example of being curious Where does this line we go? What happens in this building? Why is this town situated where it is? What does that custom mean? What are the people doing over there?

You know, it’s like every part of travel, as an example, is just about learning and immersing ourselves in something new and unfamiliar. And if you’ve done any traveling at all, then your likely experience is that it was quite joyful and quite fun. Now we all have shit times and shit stories and I’ve got plenty of terrible traveling stories I can tell you, but I guarantee in my experience and probably in yours and in the majority of peoples, our travel experiences, if you’ve been fortunate enough to travel, have been positive because we’ve been learning, because we’ve been growing, because we’ve been exploring new things and allowing a curiosity to lead us right.

Sitting in that childlike wonder and fascination and just being exposed to new stuff so that it’s almost like curiosity is the fountain of youth, right? The people who are in calendar years very old, but in spirit, very young, are the people who are interested, excited, wondering about the world. Right? There’s there’s some guys that I surf with at my local beach who are in well into the late sixties, early seventies.

And some of them have such a twinkle in their eye of of vitality and energy and spark. They actually put some of my peers to shame with how how much joy and energy they have in their day. And I truly believe it’s because they look at the world through a lens of being curious. What if, you know, I learn as much as I can stay open to new experiences all that kind of stuff.

Now, if we let our curiosity lead us, who knows where we are going to end up? That is part of the fun. That is part of the point, right? Our life, I believe our life is to teach us what it means to love and to experience all of the different emotions of being human. But it’s also to teach us how to learn and how to be open to new experiences and to collect a tapestry of lived experiences that become comforting to us and that become like the the fuel for a rich and thriving elderly phase in our life.

You might be wondering, how the bloody hell do we tap into curiosity? So I’ve got a bit of a primer, right? Like a bit of a simple, simple way to to step into being curious, particularly if it’s unfamiliar territory. So I want you to start here. We want to be as peaceful and as open as possible. That means we let go of our expectations.

We let go of what we think we know. We allow ourselves to be in that blank canvas space of, I don’t know, that’s the starting point. It’s like the beginner’s mind concept, right? Where it’s literally we are learning a new skill. We are learning something new about ourselves or about the world, but let’s just call it about ourselves and about this skill for now, right?

We need to release those expectations, release our attachments, release the kind of idea that we know anything really. And when we start from that place, we get ourselves into that sort of as much as possible, that emptiness. Then we can ask, What do I want to know? What do I find fascinating? What is interesting to me? Where would I like to go?

Who would I like to meet? What cultures would I like to experience? What parts of the world catch my interest or intrigue me? It might be like, Oh, don’t I like earthworm farming? I’ve no idea. And there’s no judgment here. The point is, whatever we are curious about becomes its own reward as we begin to learn about it, as we begin to know more about it and, you know, asking those questions, literally taking a spirit of inquiry, you know, what is it, the six W’s and one hates?

What, where, when, why? Who am I? It’s five W’s my age. And how I figure, I figure it’s been a long time sort of that journalism course. But all those questions, right? If we ask them of ourselves and just about anything, right? Anything that we we get curious about how do they make solar panels? What happens if I add walnuts to this recipe?

Who do I want to connect with and spend more time learning from what activities, sports, fun things do I want to experience? Right? Like when I look at my life, all of the things that I do for fun started with this curiosity, right? Making surfboards, learning to surf, playing basketball, riding a skateboard, playing video games, watching movies. All of them started with, oh, I wonder what that’s like.

I wonder what that’s like. And then something clicked and I went, Oh, that’s actually kind of good. I like it. I want to do more. I want to learn more. I want to get deeper into this. All right. I’m learning to make and making surfboard number two at the moment because I enjoyed the process of making surfboard number one so bloody much.

So we ask these questions. I really encourage you to set aside some time if this is unfamiliar, if the whole idea of curiosity is foreign to you, set aside some time, get a notepad and a pen and just write without censoring yourself, without inhibiting yourself right into that curious place, what am I interested in? What am I curious about?

What do I want to know more about? Where could I learn? You know, what skills do I want to pick up? What hobbies do I want to try? Maybe it’s selling. Maybe it’s making model trains, right? Maybe you want to learn how to surf? I have no idea. But the point is, this is for you to explore. And then lastly, and this is the most important piece, having a list is great, but it is meaningless unless you take action.

So you need to use that curiosity. Let it lead you, and then follow that up with action. So the simplest way to get started is to ask yourself the question What is the smallest step I can take or the smallest action I can take to begin to learn more about this topic? And I really encourage you to get super simple here.

It might just be type it into Google and read the first five things that come up. It might be talk to someone in your local community about whatever it is it might be. Watch a movie, it might be, who knows? But if you are interested in exploring your curiosity, letting it lead you for all of the reasons I spoke about better connection, better relationships, a deeper understanding of ourselves, play joy, fun, reconnecting to our childlike wonder.

All of these things. If you want to, like, get stuck into this stuff and as I just said, a recap those things. Damn Curiosity’s powerful. This has got the key to some really cool things. You’ve got to take action. Nothing happens until you move your butt and do something right. So with all of the love, pick one thing on your list and don’t procrastinate.

Take action. Do something to move that curiosity forward. To learn to, you know, just fulfill on the questions that you’ve you’ve asked yourself to begin finding those answers and your curiosity will lead you to the next steps and the next steps, right? This is the power of being curious as a practice, as a way of life, and then letting that lead you in different directions.

Honestly, your your curiosity. I just remembered another thing that I did that actually became a huge part of my life. I wanted to learn about using an SLR camera, and that was prompted by going to Hawaii on my first big serious holiday with my now wife when we were just dating. It was like the first big trip we planned to get out of town beyond like a weekend away, and we went, Oh, let’s go overseas.

This is a big step for us. Let’s go on a big holiday that we plan together and see Hawaii. So we we traveled for nearly two weeks, did like a whole bunch of wonderful things on three different islands in Hawaii. But before we left, I was like, I want to learn how to use a camera.

I want to get a decent camera, and I want to learn how to use it for this holiday. And that curiosity led me to get so fascinated by photography that I actually subsequently became a professional photographer for about 12 years. So this thing we’re talking about, this curiosity, you have no idea where that might lead you, but I want you to be open to the process and I want you to explore it because curiosity is vital in our life to live the wonderful, beautiful life we want to live.

We’ve got to allow ourselves to be curious. And if there’s a fear in you about, Well, if I follow my curiosity, then what happens? I really encourage you to skip back a couple of episodes and listen to the one called How to Handle Change Like a Legend, because that episode gives you everything you need to gently, safely, comfortably hold yourself steady as you embark upon something new, as you embrace a bit of change.

I’m sending you so much love and so much gratitude. Thank you for joining me. I hope this has been fun and interesting. I hope it has piqued your curiosity about yourself and about what you might want to learn in your life. But I promise you, curiosity is like magic pixie dust. Follow it, let it lead you, and then see what comes of it and how amazing your life becomes.

Lots of love to you. I’ll see you in the next episode. Have an amazing day wherever you are. Bye.

Thank you so much for joining me on this episode. Since you’re still listening, you’re probably the kind of person who loves to get the most out of everything in life. So let’s have a conversation about that. I want to invite you to book in a 30 minute clarity session with me where we can talk about what you want, what’s in the way, and what the next steps look like.

Plus, we can also have a chat about how I work and if we’re the right fit to work together. So take a minute now jump over to my website at Israel Smith dot com slash coach me and grab a spot on my calendar. Let me help you get the most out of your life, your work and your relationships in the first place to start is with a clarity session.

That’s Israel Smith dot com slash coach me I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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