When It Comes to Proverbs, Did Curiosity Get a Bad Rap?

As a young girl, I refused to believe that curiosity would kill a cat. After all, curiosity connects with life force energy that helps us survive and thrive, perhaps even contributing to the cat’s fabled nine lives.

Herein we will challenge the judgment cast upon curiosity and the cat, while acknowledging this saying likely holds a bit of truth, as most proverbs generally do.

Perhaps William Shakespeare and playwright Ben Jonsen had it right in the 16th Century when they said that “care” will kill a cat. In those days the word “care” was associated with worry or sorrow, which we recognize as negatively affecting health and longevity.

Scientists have yet to agree on the term curiosity. Perhaps a good definition is that curiosity is an interest and/or inquiry as to the unfolding of the moment, whether it is about an idea, person, thing, or desire. At its peak, curiosity provides a spark so powerful as to hold you in suspension of judgment of the present moment. It is mindful, humble, and accepting of the wisdom of its life source.

Curiosity trusts the universe to tell a story of possibility, one you haven’t yet seen, heard, or fully know.  It lays a solid foundation for creativity, innovation, and invention.

Curiosity is a tool that is almost magical in its ability to help you dissolve feelings of uncertainty and fear. It provides a pathway to the body’s natural internal operating system based in love instead of the one steeped in fear. This can make it a bit easier to consciously regulate our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings through the production of positive feelings in the body.

With curiosity, you can tolerate the inevitable uncertainty of human existence by stepping back and nonjudgmentally observing and accepting with humility.  This is a mindful approach promising fresh insights and alternative perspectives. Such courageous presence provides an effective tool to help you effectively manage undesired emotions such as anxiety, fear, and judgment.

An over-investment or self-serving interest in an outcome will contaminate a curious mind causing it to become distracted, careless, and sometimes even harbor ill intention. The term care, in the form of caring about or caring for another, can likewise run amok by becoming nosy, controlling, judgmental, or ideological, resulting at times in negative consequences, intentional or not.

Possibly the mistake of the cat was about such self-serving interest in which it became too invested in the ultimate object or outcome of its curiosity. Or, perhaps it turned a bit “nosy” about something that wasn’t its business. When curiosity and care go astray, either can trigger nature’s threat alarm, resulting in fear, anger, judgment, or a whole host of other negative emotions associated with the fight or flight system. Maybe such a distraction set the scene for the cat’s untimely demise.

Meanwhile, a humble and nonjudgmental curiosity is a pathway to activating the natural internal operating system of love. Curiosity can excite the positive emotional pathways to begin a momentum for the ability to feel all that is right about our lives and the world.  It can help shift the momentum from uncertainty to acceptance, from scarcity to abundance, and from fear to love.

When you access curiosity with humility and mindfulness rather than meddling precariously to influence the outcome, you trust the universe to unfold its ultimate story and provide abundantly in its own unique way and time.

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Dr. Cindy Hardwick is the Trusted Leadership Advisor, Coaching & Consulting Psychologist, and PCC – ICF Credentialed Coach who brings you nearly four decades of experience in the areas of individual and interpersonal growth and transformation.

She integrates ancient philosophy with current research and best practices to facilitate meaningful change in individuals, relationships, and workplace cultures. She is known for her intuitive and nonjudgmental approach. 

Cindy provides her own unique blend of Coaching and Consulting Psychology to those in positions of leadership and service to others.  Her mission is to support you to do the necessary inner work to allow you to bring the best of who you are to your life and your work.   

Learn more about Cindy at CynthiaHardwick.com

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