Do you ever feel like you’re in a bit of rut or that each day is flying by and when you think about it, it’s all a bit of a routine existence? If that sounds even a bit like your current reality, grab a copy of Todd Kashdan’s book Curious for a fresh take on how to get more intentional practical mindfulness in your life. In Kashdan’s words… “By being open and curious in our moments, we can improve even the most mundane aspects of our daily routine.”
I want to start this book review by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from Professor Todd Kashdan’s research, findings and recommendations on how being more mindfully curious can help us live a happy, flourishing and prosperous life.
I also need to express a concern which is highlighted in the book Curious when the author writes “Instead of constantly trying to be happy, we should focus on building a rich, meaningful life, guided by our core values and interests… living a life infused with meaning while embracing the full range of human experiences – the positive and the negative.”
My problem with this is that focusing on building a rich, meaningful life, guided by our core values and interests is exactly what pursuing a happy, flourishing and prosperous life is all about.
However, putting aside the swipe that Kashdan takes on his rather limiting definition of what happiness is, the content he provides in this book is inspiringly practical and valuable.
Kashdan writes “Being curious is about how we relate to our thoughts and feelings. It’s not about whether we pay attention but how we pay attention to what is happening in the present.”
Curiosity developed in human beings to help us survive and thrive. In Kashdan’s words, the ultimate goal of our curiosity system is to “add to our existing knowledge, skills, and competencies.”
I particularly like Kashdan’s framing of ‘well-being’ when he writes “Health and family trumps nearly everything. After that, few things are as important as your well-being. Approaching life as a curious explorer is going to help you work toward greater well-being.”
Kashdan provides the reader with a range of practical tips on how to introduce curiosity into our lives. An example is where he recommends that “… instead of going on hunches and assumptions, for one week use a notebook to record how you feel before and after an activity (interested, energized, relaxed, bored, tired, irritable) on a scale from 0 (didn’t feel it) to 10 (very intensely).”
In the Appendix of the book are a range of exercises and tools to help boost your curiosity and well-being, and I gained wonderful insights, reminders and value from completing these and recommend you take a look at these as well.
I would summarise Todd Kashdan’s book Curious as a book that can reshape the way you look at and better manage the reality of the mundane aspects of every-day life through being more curious.
What I refer to as intentional practical mindfulness is well aligned with Kashdan’s framing of curiosity which involves both a proactive and reactive approach to what we experience in life. Do some things in the moment, and do some things through reviewing the moment.