Here’s the thing about expectations - they kill curiosity.
On Sunday I mentioned that often
our expectations of people
color our experience of them
causing us to miss the exceptional in them.
Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, once said in an interview that “people are far more unique and interesting than you think, once you take the time to get to know them… the problem is most of us don’t.” We don’t take the time to get to know people. We all too often take the bits of information that we have of people and build our expectation of what they’ll be like based on that. We build our expectations on things like race, creed, political leaning, posts on instagram, retweets, articles or news channels they watch - the list could go on. The trouble with building our expectations of people based on the sound bites we have from them is that
will color our experience
and cause us to miss the exceptional within them!
But the heart of the Christian faith is that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever would believe in him would not perish,” (John 3:16). That means God thought your neighbor, your co-worker, your employee, your boss, your teammate, your suitemate, your ______ you fill in the blank - was worth dying for. The person you’re not looking at because your reading this right now - God thought they were worth dying for. The cashier, the server, the bar tender, the stylist - God thought they were worth dying for.
What would it take for you to honestly and truly give your life for someone - It would make me curious about that person you thought was worth dying for. Doesn’t it make you a little curious to know that your Father in Heaven valued them enough to give his own son for them? Aren’t you at all curious as to what God saw in them?
So my challenge during this series of Giving things Up to Get Better in life is to give up some of our expectations of what people will be like. Instead of trying to give up expectations what if instead you started cultivating curiosity. In his book Didn’t See it Coming, Carey Nieuwhof offers some suggestions for how to cultivate curiosity that I would apply to this idea and share with you.
- Schedule time thinking. We only have small bits of information from people often because we don’t take the time to wonder or be curious about others. Carey suggests scheduling time to think into your life. Give your brain space: no phones, computers, tvs, music, just give yourself some time to ponder and process and wonder.
- Ask open ended questions. When you spend time with people don’t ask them questions that lead to whatever it is you want to talk about next - ask open ended questions. Be curious about others and how they think.
- Give fewer answers. When discussing a topic, be less interested in what you think and ask people what they think. Give brief answers and volley back conversationally, asking “but what do you think?”
- Ask the most pivotal question: Why? Actually, don’t ask people why they think something or do something - instead ask people what led them to that conclusion. “Why” can often feel judgmental, as though you are evaluating their thoughts or choices. Instead, asking what led a person to their conclusions or actions can keep us curious without being judgmental.
Cultivating curiosity is practice that can help you give up your expectations of people and enjoy the exceptional within them, and that will make your life better. #GUGB