Your mindset drives your creativity. The way you think about, see, and interpret the world can inspire and motivate your creative efforts. Developing the sort of mindset that will lead to creativity is our primary focus here at Design.org. It’s why we talk about unleashing your inner dragon (and the fiercely creative mindset it brings). It’s why we offer free, personalized coaching that helps you create mindset shifts that will take you where you want to go. And it’s why we’re big supporters of curiosity.
What is curiosity?
At the most basic level, curiosity is about wanting: wanting to know something, see something, or experience something. It’s the desire to understand how or why something works the way it does.
Curiosity isn’t always presented as a positive trait. We all know that “curiosity killed the cat,” and most of us are aware of the problems that befell Alice as she became “curiouser and curiouser.” Curiosity can lead to risk, uncertainty, and even harm.
Of course, it can also lead to reward, growth, and success.
Curiosity drives experimentation, exploration, and examination. Curiosity is at the beginning of every search, leading to every discovery. It’s asking “What if…?” and then finding an answer.
And as long as you’re applying those thoughts to a worthwhile endeavor, your curiosity is going to help you create.
How does curiosity create? What does it create? What role does it play in your quest to “create happy” in your life?
Actually, curiosity is related to creating and creativity in a number of ways.
Curiosity creates courage
But fear opposes many aspects of creativity, including curiosity.
Fear is a powerful motivator. Or maybe, we should call it an anti-motivator: rather than urge us to try something new, it compels us to hold ourselves back.
Curiosity is about trying; fear is about not trying.
Fear is a normal human response. It’s always going to be there. The trick is learning to recognize and reject your fear, and to allow other, more positive motivators to drive your actions—like curiosity.
When your curiosity is more powerful than your fear, you’re willing to put aside the things you’re afraid of in order to find the answer. You’re even willing to directly face the things you fear, if it means giving you the chance to satisfy your curiosity and create what you want to create.
In this way, curiosity creates courage. Curiosity sees fear and thinks, “It’s still worth it.”
Thoughts to help you use curiosity to create courage
The power to use curiosity to create courage starts with your thoughts. If you find yourself starting to feel fear, try combating it with thoughts that feed and support your curiosity, like:
“This is scary, but what I want is worth it.”
“If I wasn’t afraid, I would….”
“Curiosity is more fun than fear.”
“I would rather live in wonder than live in fear.”
Curiosity creates solutions
Like I said before, curiosity is at the beginning of every search, and searches lead to discoveries. Curiosity drives you to ask questions rather than unwaveringly accept the way things have “always been done.”
When curiosity is focused on a single problem, it can lead to innovative solutions. Some people might push against this, saying that it’s more efficient to stick to the way things have always been done, in order to get a problem solved faster. But while curiosity may take more of a meandering route toward a solution, it’s also more likely to lead you to a solution that not only solves your current problem, but sets the stage for more efficient problem-solving later.
Curiosity encourages you to challenge norms, break the status quo, and always be on the lookout for a better way. It can help you create meaningful solutions for problems that matter.
Thoughts to help you use curiosity to create solutions
What curious thoughts will help lead you to innovative solutions? I like thoughts like:
“What is wrong with the current way things are done?”
“What’s one thing I could do to make this process better?”
“Why has no one solved this problem before?”
“What is something no one has tried when trying to solve this problem?”
Curiosity creates creativity
When we’re curious, we ask questions. When we ask questions, our brains automatically start looking for answers. And when we open ourselves up to possible answers, we start getting creative.
Let’s say someone asked you for a list of 20 ways to complete a task. For this example, we’ll use something simple: getting your mail. So, if we’re being curious, we would ask: can you come up with 20 ways to get your mail?
You’ll probably start with the obvious: walk to the mailbox, open it, and take out your mail. Then, you might think of other possible solutions, like turning the responsibility over to one of your kids, or asking your spouse to pick it up on their daily walk. But after that, if you’re going to round out the list of 20, you’re going to have to get creative. Could you train your dog to get your mail? Or invent a pulley system that transports your mail from your mailbox to your home? Or use a drone to pick it up for you?
The creative ideas in this example are admittedly outlandish, but when you’re trying to solve an actual problem, sometimes an outlandish idea is just what you need.
There’s also scientific evidence to back up the relationship between curiosity and creativity. Even small increases in curiosity led to significant increases in creativity, according to one study. And “idea linking” (the process of building ideas on each other), which is linked to curiosity, also has a positive impact on creativity.
Thoughts to help you use curiosity to create and enhance creativity
How can you think curious thoughts that will then help to build and expand your creativity? These thoughts might include things like:
“Point A leads to point B, which leads to point C. How else could I get from A to C?”
“What do I want to create, and how can I be more curious about creating it?”
“What questions would I ask if I was trying to explore my creative side?”
“Every question I ask gets me closer to creating what I want to create.”
Curiosity creates happiness
I’ll be honest: I’ve haven’t always recognized the relationship between curiosity and happiness. I know that creating brings happiness; I know that designing your thoughts brings happiness; and I know that living a life full of love brings happiness. But curiosity? How can that make you happy?
But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me. If you want to make a positive change in your life—that is, you want to “create happy”—you have to get curious about what you could do to make that happen.
You can’t base your happiness on someone else’s happiness journey (what worked for them might not work for you). You can’t just keep doing what you’ve been doing (that’s obviously not getting you where you want to go). And you can’t just sit back and wait for happiness to come to you (in my experience, you’ll be waiting a long time and will end up disappointed).
No, the way to “create happy” in your life is to be curious: to explore possibilities, to try new things, to challenge the way you’ve “always” lived your life, in hopes of discovering something better.
Only when you’re curious about your life can you start to make the changes you need to make to improve it.
Thoughts to help you use curiosity to create happiness
As you strive to create happiness through your curiosity, thoughts like these might help:
“Exploring my world without judgment makes me happy.”
“I can’t create happiness until I get curious about my life.”
“Asking questions will lead me to answers. If I don’t know how to be happy, I need to start asking.”
Curiosity creates. It creates courage, solutions, creativity, and happiness. If we can learn to be curious, to explore our world, our relationships, our habits, our beliefs, and our lives in general, we can start to use that curiosity to uncover the problems that are most important to us, and to create solutions that make us happier.
Curious about what your life could be? Start here.
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