The Joy of Figuring it Out

To me, one of the most exciting phrases in the world is ‘I don’t know’.

That’s because ‘not knowing’ signals the start of a new journey for me.

It starts at ignorance, moves to discovery, towards understanding, and finally to wisdom. This process is really the stuff life is made of, and it is an ability that all humans share in common.

Earl Nightingale, the Dean of Personal Development once said ‘Life is boring only to boring people, and life is interesting only to interested people.’

I can definitely ascribe to this being true. It seems when I meet someone who is bored and feels staid in their life, it comes down to them not being interested in anything, or refusing to extend their knowledge and curiosity outwards.

Children under the age of five are not boring, because they are so full of curiosity. Their ability to learn rapidly seems to be amplified by embracing the unknown.

The joy of figuring it out is seemingly forgotten about as we become adults.

In fact, admitting you don’t know something is terrifying for a lot of people. 

I believe this fear of ignorance is a learned trait that comes after years of schooling and being ‘taught’ to learn in a structured way. We are given things we are supposed to learn within a very narrow stream. In a lot of respects we are discouraged from veering too far off the path or learning anything left field. In time, I believe this breeds an unnatural fear of ‘not knowing’.

However, it seems to me that the true value of life comes from realizing you don’t know, and then getting curious. For this reason, I have trained myself to find ignorance invigorating.

When I have the realization that I don’t know something, this triggers a desire to learn about it. It gives me a focal point that makes me energized and excited. The joy of figuring it out kicks in.

When you think this way, the world is so full of interesting people, activities, places and experiences that it is overwhelming to know where to start. Life becomes interesting when you become interested.

Not knowing something is a gift, the destination of your next phase of development.

If you are feeling bored, dulled or a sense of malaise is setting in, then I suggest seeking out and embracing what you ‘don’t know’.

It’s the best way to grow.


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