Why Curiosity is Essential for Health
Curiosity helps us escape from cycles of stuckness
In the modern day, most of us are unhealthy. This is clearly not great. And as you likely know, most of what contributes to our poor health is chronic, preventable disease. Diseases driven by our lifestyle choices, like our diet, and the media we consume and the sleep we don’t get, and the exercise we skip.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of influential people in the wellness space. And as I discuss everything from depression to cognition to diet, there’s a theme that has been creeping up time and time again in the background: the fundamental role of curiosity in allowing us to be healthy.
Fundamentally, we are a reflection of what we consume. So yes, it’s what we eat/put into our mouths, but it’s also a reflection of what we put on our skin, breathe in, and allow into our eyes and ears. And a lot of this stuff is simply junk. But like fish swimming in dirty water, it’s often the case that we’re not aware how much of what we’re taking in is low quality and potentially even toxic (case in point: most foods in American supermarkets contain added sugar).
Some recent shakeups in the world of brain health are clear indicators that must remain curious. First, a major scientific article came out calling attention to the idea that the dominant explanation for depression may be incorrect (see my coverage here). Next, a major blowout happened when scientists uncovered potential fraud and manipulation in research related to Alzheimer's disease. These are perfect examples of why, even in research and science we have to remain openminded and curious about whether we have the story right.
At a more basic level, when we appreciate that our consumerism culture is based on the idea of making us constantly crave the next fix, we can understand that it's in the best interest of many companies for us to feel discontent and unhappy with our lot in life, because that will entice us to purchase or consume content with the expectation that it will solve our problems. Curiosity here would have us question the incentives of a company that profits from our stressed out attention (looking at you, news networks and social media...) and whether we want to continue to invest so much of our time and energy paying attention to what they put out.
Unless we’re curious about why so many of us are unhealthy, and unless we’re curious about why we don’t feel great, and whether there are better options, we don’t have a great chance of escaping the cycles of stuckness that so many of us experience.
To this end, I’m so excited that you all are curious enough to read my weekly newsletters and blogs to learn about your brains, how they get stuck, and how to help get the stuck out. It’s been so wonderful to help grow this community of thousands of people who are curious about how to better themselves and the world.
In the vein of curiosity, if you’re interested in taking a deep dive into what I’ve been thinking about as it relates to the state of medicine, mental health and healing today, I invite you to check out my recent conversation with Dhru Purohit on his podcast. We get into some deeper thinking on a lot of important topics.
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