Curiosity: The Most Powerful Tool for a Creative Mind

by Nina Meehan

I think it’s time we face the truth. Curiosity did not, in fact, kill the cat. Actually, studies will say that staying curious for as long as possible can actually have positive effects on your long term health and well being. If you want to cultivate a creative mind, your first job is to cultivate a curious mind. 

A curious mind is looking at the world through a lens of “not knowing.” There is always the opportunity to have a beginner’s mindset with something new to learn around every corner. 

And that experience of discovery and seeing possibilities is an opportunity for creativity. A creative act brings something new into the world, but if you aren’t curious, you will never ask yourself, “What wants to be discovered here?”

Even if you have done the same task over and over again, what is different about this particular moment in time? 

The Broadway actor does the same show over and over again, eight times per week, sometimes for years, but the performance has to feel new and fresh for every audience or the magic just won’t be there. How do those actors keep it fresh? They cultivate presence, moment to moment, noticing what is unique and special about this particular show. They listen with intensity to their fellow actors, hearing the words from their mouths as if it is the first time they have ever heard them. They find ways to make things novel and fun. And, above all, they are curious, ready to see what the moment will deliver and open to receiving it. In essence, they continue to find opportunities for creativity, even within repetition. 

In our daily lives, we have so many tasks we perform by rote. What if we chose to bring our curious mind to cultivate the creative experience in the most mundane of tasks. What if today, we get curious about washing dishes? 

  • What sounds do I hear?
  • What does the water feel like on my hands?
  • Does the viscosity of the soap remind me of anything?
  • How could I do this faster? What happens if I go slower?

All of a sudden, something totally boring might become more interesting. And, you never know, maybe you will invent something that will revolutionize dish washing and we will never have to do it again. More time to spend with the cat! 

This article first published in The Piedmont Post June 12, 2023.