Recently I have realised the amazing difference it can make to approach life with a curious attitude.
I was listening to an audiobook called The Pleasure of Finding Things Out which is a collection of short-works by Richard Feynman. For those who haven’t heard of him, Feynman (1918-1988) is a Nobel-winning physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and had the reputation of a cheerfully eccentric genius.
The title of this audiobook, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, is the key to having a curious attitude. In the following passage from his book Feynman discusses this in relation to science:
I have a friend who’s an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don’t agree with. He’ll hold up a flower and say, ‘Look how beautiful it is,’ and I’ll agree. But then he’ll say, ‘I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull.’
I think he’s kind of nutty. […] There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.
Listening to the stories of Richard Feyman has given me a new appreciation of science. But thats not all. By making me realise that one can approach life with a curious attitude is has had an impact on my whole life. I have seen changes in relation to:
- My relationships with people: I find now that I take a lot more interest in other peoples lives, whether they be family, friends, work colleagues or acquaintances. This means that I really listen to them when they speak. In the workplace, I make an effort to remember their partners or childrens names. I make an effort to remember peoples birthdays (having them written in your diary works well).
- Knowledge:my knowledge of the world has dramatically increased in recent times. I have rediscovered my love of learning. I want to know what is happening in world politics, how the economy works and the latest in medical breakthroughs. Apart from making you a lot smarter, having an understanding of how things work will make you a lot more interesting to other people.
Finally, let me quote another well-known scientist to summarize the attitude that I am referring to in this article:
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is. – Albert Einstein