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The Power of Curiosity
by Serge Kahili King

I have said elsewhere, in slightly different words, that the two primary motivations in life are the urge to connect, which can be defined as love, and the urge to influence, which can be defined as power. Now I am going to talk about a third primary motivation, the urge to know, which can be defined as curiosity.

Curiosity is not limited to humans, of course. Anyone knows this who has seen cattle gather to stare at something on the other side of a fence; dogs sniffing around even when they are not seeking food, a mate, or a rival, and cats peering out a window or into things.

Just like love and power, curiosity scares some people. A very well known proverb designed by fearful people to discourage the seeking of information is "Curiosity killed the cat." In response to this type of thinking, one of the most curious people of modern times, Albert Einstein, said, "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." He also said that "The important thing is to not stop questioning."

Some time in the far distant past, someone must have thought, "Why does water run downhill?" And someone must have thought, "Since water runs downhill anyway, how can I make it run down where I want it to?" And someone must have thought, "How can I make water run downhill when it doesn't want to?" And someone must have thought, "What can I do with water that runs downhill?" Everything in our lives that helps us think better, feel better, and act better, from the very first piece of clothing produced to today's 3-D printers, came into being through human curiosity.

Unfortunately, the same thing could be said about everything that helps us think worse, feel worse, and act worse, from the very first pointed stick used as a weapon to the really scary weapons of war we have to deal with today. But in spite of that negative side, here we are in a world where curiosity is doing far, far more to help than to harm. And that brings us to the positive application of curiosity in our own personal lives.

Focusing on the major areas of health, wealth, happiness and success, what are the kinds of questions we can ask that will reinforce and strengthen our experiences in those areas, or help us make them better? Writers are often told that good stories answer the questions What, Why, How, Where, and When. Those same questions can help create good lives. I suggest that you ask those questions about the areas of life most important to you.

Let's use health as an example. What is my state of health right now? Why is it like it is? How can I keep it or improve it? Where can I go to find out more about it? When am I going to do that? These kinds of questions will help you seek the answers.

American poet and writer, Nancy Willard, said "Sometimes questions are more important than answers." Even when answers are not immediately available, the questions themselves create opportunities for answers to become available, even in unexpected ways. Don't be satisfied with answers, though, no matter how authoritative the source. As Enstein put it, "“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

Keep asking questions. Keep being curious. And when you do get answers, go back to asking questions again.

palm isle