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“How are you?”

The question we all ask most often, that sits stale on our tongues and is received with numb ears and returns to us with an equally unoriginal response. We find it suitable for passing, as it’s been reduced to a courtesy rather than a conversation. It’s the most inquisitive we are usually willing to be.

Einstein once said, “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.” And it is this kind of passionate curiosity that allows us to learn; it’s the same practice seen in scientific research, in job interviews, in seeking a faith, on a first date. We cannot know answers until we ask questions.

But our society somewhat lost the art of asking questions when answers are google-able and social media reveals much of what we want to know. There seems to be little left to discover, and this attitude becomes especially problematic as we interact with the world and people around us; we become overly self-involved and lacking in curiosity.

Every now and then we may encounter someone who digs deeper; who looks in our eyes when they speak to us and are unsatisfied with our societally appropriate response. They ask questions that make us think. They are curious. They engage.

The people that come to mind are my cousins, who are 11 and 14 years old. When I see them, they interrogate me with passion – how are my friends doing and what’s your favorite thing to do with them? What is your favorite thing to cook? What is your favorite thing to write about? What are your dreams? What do you love, and why do you love it? It is both an unusual and thrilling experience, to have someone genuinely fascinated by your life; these kind of beneath-the-surface questions not only allow for them to know me on a deeper level, but also allow me to express the topics and passions that make me come alive. This is why part of us lights up when we enter into genuine, interested conversation – we are invited to share who we are.

 It is both an unusual and thrilling experience, to have someone genuinely fascinated by your life …

There’s something to be said for someone who is able to ask good questions and truly interact with the people around them. It is simple, powerful, and in a way, sacrificial. In order to authentically know someone or something, we must be willing to have conversations that aren’t about us. We have to be willing to not only extend our hearts, but also to listen patiently to others as they extend theirs. We must be prepared to mourn with them even when we are not mourning, and rejoice with them even when all of our being aches with jealousy. To have a genuine conversation, we must be willing to temporarily surrender our concerns so that we can take up those of others.

Let’s be the kind of individuals who ask the careful, insightful questions; who genuinely desire to know the hearts of the people around them and who are able to rejoice in the lives and passions of others. It goes beyond being women of authenticity, it means being women of authentic interest.

Who or what was the last thing you were passionately curious about?

Image via NXSH Images



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4 comments

  1. I love this article, because I find your words to be so true- not only of my life, but today’s culture in general. Also, based solely upon your author bio, I think we could potentially be friends… breakfast food is life, and cozy sweaters are the ONLY sweaters. Thank you for this thoughtful piece. Sending love to you!

  2. Being curious about people is something that I never thought to do. Something that never even crossed my mind as a possibility. Recently, I began the training to receive my certification in Life Coaching. One of the very first things we learn to do is become curious about people. Not about their story. Not about where they got there shirt and if you can get it. It is so difficult to become truly curious about the girl in the cute shirt telling a fascinating story. How has their story affected them? Why don’t they trust people anymore? These are vulnerable questions with vulnerable answers, but they are important questions to ask. I look back now on my life and think of all the times I came to a conversation with my own agenda or preconceived notions. It’s vital to be selfless in our questions in order to have deep and lasting relationships.

  3. While asking and listening with curiosity and selflessness is grandiose and caring, in reality many people become uncomfortable when one asks about others and listens with genuine interest and curiosity. Those who are young ask, innocently, but into adulthood those who ask can be viewed as probing and sometimes even creepy, not innocent and curious.

    1. Which is why, in my opinion, maybe we would all benefit from changing that narrative!

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