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Living can be difficult sometimes, but being alive is wonderful, exciting and full of possibility. The dissonance between these aspects of “life” can be confusing and seem unresolvable. Why is that? How is it that quality of experience can diminish quality of life? Why do some people feel they are not worthy – they make no difference, no contribution, create no benefit? Sadly, some believe they should not be alive at all, a tragedy that besets far too many.

Recently a good friend who is an architect asked, “How do I get people excited about what I do?” What a question to ask while we shared breakfast at a lovely restaurant on the shores of a river, the sun shining, ducks floating by aimlessly, and the ripple of water sending out a calming wave for everyone to share. Perhaps the beauty of being alive in that moment brought out his discomforting problem.

So we talked about things from neuroscience to philosophy to spirituality and it suddenly dawned on him: he was searching for something that didn’t need to be found. He was excited about what he did and that needed to be raised up and embraced. People didn’t need to get excited, he needed to allow his excitement to flow out from within: his joy at resolving each architectural problem and the excitement of sharing his vision of how the structure he was imagining for them would both reflect and enhance their lives – not just be a functional building that would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.

How can we do this? By opening our curiosity for possibility. Problems are all about what is wrong, what is bad, who is at fault and who is to blame. Solving problems is often a punishment. Curiosity for possibility is taking what exists now and making something more – making connections that trigger unexpected and extraordinary things. It’s because we isolate the elements of problems that we miss the possibility of discovering what the problem is trying to say to us.

Learning at school, or university or anywhere, just to solve the problem of exams and tests is very hard to get excited about. But, learning to open to the possibilities that will enrich and grow your future is learning that is irresistible. Working at a job just to get a pay-packet can be soul destroying. But working at something you know will help others add to their lives, solve difficulties, and achieve goals is a job that is worth waking up for.

Possibility surrounds us every moment. Our biggest barrier is that we just don’t notice. We are clouded beneath problems instead of igniting our curious mind with “What if?” and “I wonder?” opening our imagination to create something wonderful and enabling we never even imagined possible to come into being.

When asked about the purpose of life Joseph Campbell said, “to participate in the experience.” Brilliant, but I wonder if I can add a little to lift this into curiosity and possibility – “to creatively participate in the experience.” All you need to creatively participate is to engage, connect and share. In doing so, you become a part of the creative process, the invitation of possibility and an energetic contributor to the future.

Now that is exciting!

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Richard Hill comes from a family steeped in creativity and public expression. It is not surprising that he has embraced professional acting and singing, and is a recognized songwriter and author, but many were surprised when he began university in his late 40's. He now holds three masters degrees in Arts, Education, and Brain and Mind Sciences and is an internationally respected speaker and presenter on Neuroscience and the dynamic of being human. He is in private practice as a psychotherapist in Sydney Australia. He is the developer of The Curiosity Approach, which emerged from his books "How the 'real world' Is Driving Us Crazy!" and "Choose Hope." His new book is written with Ernest Rossi, PhD, "The Practitioner's Guide to Mirroring Hands." Most recently he has released an online program "Your Amazing Brain 3.0" to share his knowledge and life experience to encourage people to create connection - in themselves and between others. Richard is President of the Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies, a select member of the International psychosocial Genomics Research Group, and Patron of the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists. He is regularly published in articles and book chapters worldwide and is on the editorial board of The Neuropsychotherapist. To be curious and engaged is Richard's formula for a wonderful life.

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New book release late 2017 - The Practitioner's Guide to Mirroring Hands: A Client-Responsive Therapy that Facilitates Natural Problem Solving and Mind-Body Healing - see my website for pre-release discounts

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Richard, your words here remind me of finding my voice at 10 years old to give a speech at school embracing the pain of those who experienced Slavery. I was petrified to speak, shaky, with dry mouth, but then got connected to a feeling inside… I needed to share my message about the wrongness of “power over”. So as you say Richard, connecting with my passion to share allowed me to be in my body and let my energy flow out. Thank you so much for reminding us of the opportunities around us for opening up, to move through our barriers, in service of connecting with others.

    1. Thanks Mandy. The mind seeks to make connections all the time. So often we limit the options – to our fears, our insecurities – but if we open up to “possibility” we can quickly find other connections that are much more interesting and exciting. My research into neuroscience shows that curiosity is best at opening up possibility – I wonder… Take care, Richard

  2. Excellent advice – love how open the insight is and how it reminds me of what awareness and openness can bring. Change as soft or swift as we need it – to weather the storms and to experience life in all its wonder. Thank you for this brilliant post!

  3. Brilliant, indeed! Simple, practical, inspiring and definitely empowering. Thanks, Richard. Keep up the great work!

  4. Just learned today that a good friends son died this week aged 27 in a motor cycle accident. Shattered. Keep positive & make the most of every second.

  5. That’s a tough one Jane. No answer for it or reducing it. The curiosity for possibility includes all things including grief and dismay and confusion, as well as the joy of caring and the heartache of loss. I wish you and the other friends and family of this lad a heartfelt hug. Take care, R

  6. How you opened your essay reminded me of how M. Scott Peck started his book, ‘The Road Less Traveled’. That book has had a profound impact on how I see things. “Life is difficult. That is the greatest truth. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult.”

    You said: “Problems are all about what is wrong, what is bad, who is at fault and who is to blame. Solving problems is often a punishment.” How is it a punishment? I enjoy trying to find solutions. The only problem with that being that I end up feeling quite anguished when I can’t find a solution to a problem.

    “It’s because we isolate the elements of problems that we miss the possibility of discovering what the problem is trying to say to us.” This is interesting, do elaborate on this a little further! 🙂

    This was a delightful read. Made me smile after a hard day.

    1. Good thoughts Madeeha. You are right about trying to solve problems can be good. I think this is problem of not having enough words 🙂 I should have written “can” be all about what is wrong… meaning that in some situations and especially when you need to solve the problem to satisfy other people. Also, as you say, NOT solving the problem can bring a bit of anguish. If you add Curiosity for Possibility to problem solving, then even not solving the problem can be something to learn from. I had a client who told me that her mother never said anything to her (about a particular issue). I got out my whiteboard and we wrote sown all the things that her mother NOT saying anything might have meant. By the end of the session the whiteboard was full. We didn’t solve the problem of her mother not saying anything, but we don’t open the doorways of understanding more about what even that unresolved problem might be saying. Thanks for looking at this article and for your excellent comments 🙂

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