Happiness and relevancy are made from the same material: Awareosity + tenacity.
Several years ago, I fell into the trap of believing that hunkering down and working harder would alleviate the fear and anxiety I was feeling and bring purpose to my life. Plugging away at my computer for hours every day, I struggled to understand why these emotions raged inside of me.
“Keep focused. Keep working,” I said to myself, embarrassed by my lack of focus, goals or direction. And—get this—at the time, I was writing a book about… focus. That sounded better than, “I’m sitting behind my computer, looking busy, but desperately wanting to be a student, learn, and connect with others.”
By the end of most days, I was thoroughly exhausted. Not from getting so much done, but from worrying about what I didn’t do. The problem was, I could never get a sense for what I should have been doing.
You tell yourself, “Just get through this week/project/month/year, and then I’ll figure out what I need to do differently.” Or, “It’s just been a rough couple of years—it’ll work itself out.”
Problem is—it never does. Not by itself. Not without your help.
Fortunately, there is a simple process for increasing joy, happiness, relevancy, and meaning in your life and work: Awareosity.
Awareosity: To increase awareness around ones natural curiosity. (I’ll be sure to add the word to Wikipedia soon.)
As a 6-year-old, there was no need to become aware of your curiosity, nor did you need tenacity to explore. Rather than go into all the data chronicling how creativity and curiosity are hammered out of us by the time we get out of grade school, I’ll simply say it is.
And, it’s your job to resurrect it.
Step One: Start noticing. What intrigues you? Trust me, you will always find what you’re looking for, so begin to notice (look for) what intrigues you.
While I didn’t realize it at the time, my curiosity for farming breathed fresh air back into my life, increasing my happiness and, strangely, relevancy. This was during the time I mentioned above—when, unsure what to focus on, I busied myself writing a book about… focus. The only reason I allowed myself to deviate from my own suffering is because my friend Wendy wanted to know if I’d eat at a particular restaurant. At first glance, I couldn’t imagine why she would even ask.
It said right there on the menu, “We serve locally grown, grassfed, beef.” Thinking there must be a greater reason she asked me this question, I explored the website of the farm where they source their meat. Having never heard of “organic” grass, and seeing this sentence on their site, I was confused.
“Using strictly organic feed is extremely expensive, and would require us to raise prices about 50%.”
According to the FDA, “grassfed” means the animal has been fed only grass, and since the restaurant specifically noted “grassfed,” I was curious. This was the kind of curiosity I could not shake, and ultimately lead me to a wonderful friendship with farmer Mike, who has subsequently taught me more about the environmental impact of poop then I ever knew I wanted to know.
Interestingly, just six months after I allowed my curiosity to surge, I landed an awesome contract to work with an environmental company. (Thank you Wendy for sparking my curiosity, and Mike for feeding it.)
Step Two: Take note. At the end of every day, go over your day. What happened, who did you meet, listen to, or chat with? What intrigued you? Write it down in a journal that you can come back to later. The key here is awareness. And, yes, forget your keyboard and write it down. There’s some kind of magical thing that happens when pen and paper connect with your hand. Write and reflect on what you noticed. If you didn’t notice anything—if you get through the week without any intrigue, it’s time to expose yourself. More about how to gain exposure here.
A few weeks ago I met Joe, a sales rep for a 3D printing company in Baltimore, who shared a bit about how 3D printing works. I was fascinated! Later that night I journaled about my interest in 3D printing. The thought of printing an object was both foreign and intriguing to me. I had to learn about how it works, and see it for myself.
Step Three: Say, “Yes!” Considering how busy we are being busy, it’s easy to say, “I’ll check that out later.” Don’t do that. Later will never come, and you’ll always have a bazillion reasons why you don’t have time to follow your curiosity. Fail to follow it, and it’ll stop showing up. Feed it, and it’ll feed you.
The day after I met Joe the sales rep, I got an email from him asking if I’d like a tour of their 3D printing facility. “Yes!” While there, the CEO asked for a meeting to discuss the possibility of hiring me to work with his team. YES!
Your natural curiosity will lead you to meet interesting people who are passionate about what they are doing. Those passionate and curious people will spark even more curiosity and intrigue. Being around other interesting and passionate people rubs off, so please feed your curiosity.
Remember, there is no need to force curiosity. You already have it. All you need to do is pay attention to it and then give yourself permission to learn. Learning creates growth, and growth triggers meaning, relevancy, and ultimately, happiness.
Why happiness, you ask? Because learning triggers all kinds of happy chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin. You can learn more on boosting your serotonin levels here.
Every time you think about relevancy and happiness, consider the fact that, depending primarily on your age and gender, you are made up of approximately 75% water. Delightfully delicious smelling water has two things that stale, stagnant water does not: inflow and outflow.
In my next blog post, I’ll talk more about how to incorporate Inflow and Outflow into your daily life.
Here’s to Your Greatness,