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Forget passion, focus on being curious

By Ray DePaul 

“Follow your passion” may be the single most anxiety-inducing phrase. Let’s face it, most of us don’t know what our passion is and the claim that every 20 year old can follow their love of sports/music/hanging out with friends/ is just bad advice. So what should you do? Get curious!

If you are genuinely curious, about people, places, and things, you will be on the right path. Our 140 character world is actually perfect for exposing us to literally thousands of threads that we could follow, if we are curious. I remember reading an article on neuroscience and its implications on mental health. Being curious enough to read an article about something I knew nothing about opened up a whole new world. The topic sparked my interest and led me to read a fascinating book called Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by neuroscientist David Eagleman. My curiosity had led to a full blown interest!

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That interest has led to a depth of knowledge in neuroscience that would only embarrass me at a medical convention, but likely resulted in far greater knowledge than 90% of the population. That has to be valuable! Mix in the dozens of other interests and I believe I have a unique perspective to bring to the world, even if none of these interests got elevated to a passion. That said, a fraction of the people who show an interest in a topic may actually develop a deep passion for that topic. But it likely wasn’t a pre-existing passion. They found their passion(s) by being curious.

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But being curious isn’t just about mining the world for interests and potential passions. Curiosity itself has a wonderful outcome - a breadth of knowledge. When I was curious enough to read a fashion article about how the hilarious actress Melissa McCarthy was getting involved in plus-sized fashion, I learned that the average American woman is a size 12 - the starting size for plus sizes. This was clearly a lucrative market! I’ll be honest, this curiosity didn’t lead to a genuine interest in plus-sized women’s fashion. But I have that little bit of knowledge tucked away in my average-sized brain. So even if a curiosity doesn’t lead to an interest, you are way ahead of the uncurious.

 

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Start with being curious, not because it might lead to a passion, but because it will arm you with a breadth and depth of knowledge that will make you truly unique and valuable. Now, I have to go read an article about someone who injected something into his eyeball to give himself night vision.