While taking a look into the paths of mastery and mystery, a question popped to mind –
if we became skilled explorers of the unknown, would we be Masters of Mystery?
Or would such a title add too much pressure on curious explorations to throw them right back on the trail of seeking right answers?
Fortunately for us, mystery only needs a drop of curiosity to take hold and grow rather than a title.
But still hanging out in the mastery world, the question remains – are there ways to improve your skill base of discovering and being curious?
I believe the answer is a resounding YES!
The thing is, like the body, our discovery muscles need to be flexed and used or they start to atrophy over time.
As a way to start “working out” then, here are nine tips to flex your discovery muscles.
1. Become a two year old.
Even though we’re often driven to the brink of insanity after a thousand and one why’s, we truly can learn something from the insatiable curiosity of a two year old.
They set out to discover what they don’t know, allow one answer to inspire another question, and keep digging until they’re satisfied – for now.
Children also see their world and the connections between the dots from a fresh perspective, unfiltered by things we’ve assumed or taken for granted.
Flex Tip: When you encounter something you don’t know – what a word means, the background to a situation, how something works – start asking questions and follow the trail to see where they lead you.
2. Ask different questions.
The frame of a question frames the nature of your exploration.
“Why did the accident happen to me?” steers the conversation in a different direction than say, “How did the accident happen to me?”
This “why” question invokes a search for meaning while the small switch into “how” points the question towards seeing a sequence of events.
Approaching from the opposite side with “What good things have come from the accident that happened to me?” shifts the underlying perception of the question altogether.
Flex Tip: Imagine each inquiry as a diamond with many faces to explore, and each with its own frame of question. Leverage the 5 W’s and How. Ask different questions instead of the same one over and over to open up new avenues for answers to flow.
3. Be silly.
What does earwax sound like? Where does time land after flying? What sound do you make running across a bowl of corn flakes?
While answering nonsensical questions may feel silly, the process is like doing stretches to improve flexibility.
A few of the many benefits of being whimsical are having no correct answers to find, giving the creative side of your brain a workout and sharpening your skills at seeing old things in new ways.
If you haven’t been silly in a while, expect you won’t have questions or answers gushing forth right from the start. Your brain might even hurt. This is a good sign of stretching and will help keep your brain young!
Flex Tip: When you come across a silly question, make time to answer. Allow inspiration to help create your own questions. Being silly with others creates an interplay of energies to really gets the juices flowing. When you’re sitting around the dinner table, have a captive audience in the car or looking to liven up a party, toss out a silly question to see who will jump in. Yes, you’re likely to get weird looks at first, but watch the game catch on!
4. Take a different route.
Have you ever seen a nuthatch? They’ll walk down the tree trunk to catch bugs hidden from birds that only walk up the tree.
Moving in the same pattern all the time, while efficient, also has the effect of putting on blinkers or going on auto pilot.
Taking different routes to the same destination creates a bigger map of what is possible and provides alternatives when roadblocks pop up. Great lesson for applying in all areas of our lives.
Flex Tip: Take a different route at least once a week to the store, work, and other activities. The more you change up the better. Keep expanding your map with more details. Save the familiar route for when you’re in real hurry or road conditions are bad. See how many different routes you can take through your favourite parks or on your walks.
5. Get lost on purpose.
For some, even the mere thought of being lost is enough to cause the stomach to churn.
In practicing being lost, you purposefully place yourself in situations to recognize your reactions to not knowing, manage those reactions to keep moving forward, and grow increasingly comfortable and curious staying in the unknown.
The result is a more self-confident you. You know you can find your way through and come out okay in the end.
Instead of scrambling to grab hold for a sense of stability and groundedness, you can grab onto you.
Flex Tip: Turn off the GPS and put your maps away. When you’re out for a walk or driving somewhere, go left where you normally go right and head off into who knows where.
6. See beyond and in between.
Imagine you’re a reporter sent on assignment in your neighborhood. You need to photograph ten things others are unlikely to identify while right under their noses.
When was the last time you really took a good look at what’s around your neighborhood? Do you ever run across something “new” only to find out later it’s been there for quite some time?
You’re wired to notice edges and change. The more things stay the same, the more you have to be purposeful in seeing what’s different and new-to-you rather than the new finding you.
Flex tip: Go for a walk to see what you haven’t seen before. Look up and down along with straight ahead. Observe what’s hidden in the branches, lining a sidewalk or sitting atop fence posts. Be the passenger instead of driving when you have the chance. Without having to pay attention to traffic all the time, you’ll be amazed how much there really is to see.
7. Zoom in and out.
If you’ve ever played with the zoom lens on a camera, you know how different what’s before you can appear. Fish eye, wide angle and macro lenses allow you to capture the world in ways the standard lens won’t allow.
Thinking of yourself as a human zoom lens encourages shifting perspectives to more than what initially meets the eye.
A garden, tree trunk, and falling snow or rain all provide the close up look to a yard, forest or storm.
Flex tip: Find opportunities to zoom in closer for a look or zoom out to capture a wider view. Note what you do and don’t see from the other perspective.
8. Go somewhere new.
When you find yourself looking for something to do, go somewhere new. Don’t wait for visitors to come to see all the tourist spots.
Up the ante by going to a place that has always held little interest, or seemed out of the way.
Where you haven’t been before comes with a clean slate, but possibly some baggage.
Not only do you have the opportunity to see with fresh eyes, you can practice seeing how things really look instead of how you expect them to be.
Flex tip: Make a list of places you haven’t been before to have on hand. Be purposeful to keep fresh eyes, and pay attention to how you feel. Is curiosity on the rise or a sense of uncomfortableness moving into the unknown. Save comparisons to your favourite spots for later.
9. Argue with yourself.
You’ve likely heard some version of the old adage about walking in another person’s shoes.
Seeing through another person’s eyes expands our own perspective and invites us to look at things we might not have considered before.
The aim is to open your mind, not necessarily change it. Considering more points of view, however, will help you to know yourself more deeply and with greater clarity.
Flex tip: When you agree with a news story, explain why the other side makes sense too. Bluff if you need to and come up with what feels like insane rebuttals. Politics is a great place to start.
Above all, have fun.
Expect hesitation or a reaction of some sort when trying something new.
Being aware of how you feel is part of the discovery process itself.
Part of being skilled at mystery is knowing there is always more to discovery and mastery is only a temporary state until the next unfolding occurs.
What are some of your favourite ways to flex your discovery muscles?
feel free to share
chief nudging officer
Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.