In our first book,
Living Brave, Women, Stories and Pathways to Thriving
, Mary Beth and I asked twelve women to write how they nurture their inner garden of wellbeing. We found we don’t seem to care for or nurture ourselves in our young years, but eventually as we mature, we arrive to an awakening and desire to care for ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. I am certainly feeling the call for self-nurturing at this time in life.
The month of August while things around us slow down a bit, is a good time for us to recover and reinforce our spirit of wellbeing. The following is an article written for the book by Dr. Gayle Cordes an Arizona state-licensed psychotherapist, client and friend. I hope it brings a smile to your face and is a reminder to keep curiosity nourished in your life:
There is an old proverb that warns, "Curiosity killed the cat." One might suppose from that advice being inquisitive could get you into trouble. A bit of digging shows the original form of the proverb was “care kills the cat,” where “care” meant “worry” or “sorrow.” And it turns out there is even more to this proverb. What is often left out is the rest of that adage, “satisfaction brings it back,” suggesting resurrection or return. So maybe being curious isn’t all bad?
As a psychotherapist specializing in psychological trauma, I have worked with many people weighed down by painful life experiences, by worry, by sorrow. Studies show unresolved traumatic stress impacts our physical, as well as mental health, not only complicating chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, but in many cases causing them. The famous Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the best examples of this research.
No one goes through life without bad things happening—natural disasters, accidents, illness, death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, bullying, and the list goes on. We all experience such things. It turns out that with psychological trauma, it’s not so much the terrible thing that happened, it’s what comes after. Did we hide away from the world in fear? Or did we reach out for help to recover? Did we tell our story? Did we heal and make meaning from the experience?
The field of neurobiology is a fascinating new area of scientific study. What these experts tell us is that being curious is wired into us as part of the life-enhancing circuitry of our brain; in this case, what’s called the “seeking” circuit. Interestingly, this circuit sits across from the life-protecting circuit of fear. So, what if we fire up the seeking circuit instead of letting fear take over? What if we approach the world with interest and curiosity, rather than avoiding risk and hiding out in fear? Seems easier said than done sometimes, I know.
Years back, after my second divorce, I was weighed down with “care,”—worry, sorrow, and, yes, with some fear. Yet I did something some people thought was crazy; I went back to school. Again. After two master’s degrees, I set out to complete my doctorate. I fired up my curious-seeking circuitry and plowed onward. It turned out to be the right divorce recovery strategy for me. I see the same good outcomes for my patient’s time and time again. Being curious is not only a characteristic of well-being, but it can contribute greatly to our return to health.
Perhaps, then, there is something to that old proverb after all, if we consider it in its original form, as reflected in Shakespeare’s 1599 play, Much Ado About Nothing: “What courage man! What, though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.”
It seems whether we draw upon the findings of 21st century neuroscientists or the wisdom of the ancients, the examined life is the way to go (indulge me here, Socrates). So, be curious!
A very special thank you to Gayle and all of the other contributors to our books in the Living Brave …. Stories that Inspire series.