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Having a curious approach to life can improve our mood, creativity and relationships. Scott Shigeoka leads a visualization exercise to help you approach someone you might disagree with with an open and curious mind.
How to Do This Practice:
- Find a comfortable place to begin the practice, focusing on your breath.
- Imagine that you are going to interact with a friend during a moment of conflict. Visualize the meeting, like the space around you and how you greet each other.
- Picture yourself showing a curious and loving perspective. Take note of what you would say, the tone of your voice, your body language, and in particular the types of questions you ask to impact the conversation.
- Pay attention to how you would feel if your friend was receiving your curiosity well, compared to if they weren’t.
- Visualize yourself thanking your friend for their friendship and curiosity before leaving the meeting.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Scott Shigeoka is an author and storyteller who focuses on themes of curiosity and well-being.
Order Scott Shigeoka’s book Seek: How Curiosity can Transform Your Life and Save the World: https://tinyurl.com/4jrxbupj
Learn More About Scott’s work: https://tinyurl.com/y5xyxky7
Follow Scott on Instagram: https://tinyurl.com/3acu6jhm
Follow Scott on Twitter: https://tinyurl.com/3m3k3bm9
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
Why Curious People Have Better Relationships: https://tinyurl.com/2xw5y9yr
How to Stay Open and Curious in Hard Conversations: https://tinyurl.com/y2f2e9ce
Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity: https://tinyurl.com/7kcr32su
How Curiosity Can Help Us Overcome Disconnection: https://tinyurl.com/9kaas6nz
What Curiosity Looks Like in the Brain: https://tinyurl.com/22rj6nbh
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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner: Welcome to Happiness Break, by The Science of Happiness. I’m Dacher Keltner. Each episode serves as a short break in our day to try practices and meditations shown to make us happier.
This week we’re practicing how to be more curious – because research shows that when we are, it helps us to be more present, puts us in a better mood, sparks our creativity, and it can make our relationships more satisfying.
We’re going to be led in a visualization by Scott Shigeoka where we imagine ourselves experiencing a difficult situation but through a curious lens – one where we’re keeping a cool, open mind. Studies show that visualizing ourselves doing something difficult helps us meet that challenge when we actually face it.
Scott is the author of the new book Seek: How Curiosity can Transform Your Life and Save the World.
So find somewhere you feel comfortable closing your eyes for five minutes or so, and enjoy this practice in cultivating curiosity. Here’s Scott.
Scott Shigeoka: Hi everyone. I’m so excited to share this visualization exercise to help you drop into your deep curiosity for your next conversation.
It’s really taking a cue out of mental rehearsal, which comes from sports. So the idea that when you visualize yourself hitting a ball with a baseball bat or throwing a free throw at the basketball line, you’re more likely to do it when you practice it in your mind through a visualization. The same is true for curiosity.
So first, I invite you to sit or lie down and close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Your inhales and exhales. Take a moment to observe at least three deep inhales and exhales.
Now call to mind an upcoming circumstance that might require your curiosity. For the sake of this example, let’s imagine you’re going to spend time with a friend and you’re in a tricky or maybe even a moment of conflict.
First, imagine yourself arriving to meet with your friend. Visualize where you are. What does the setting look like? Are you at home? Are you in a restaurant? Are you both sitting down? Are you both standing?
Now that you’ve got the scene, picture yourself being curious with your friend in a heart centered, loving, and connective way. How might you be showing a genuine interest in them? What kinds of questions are you asking? What tone does your voice have? What does your body language look like? How are you bringing curiosity into this conversation?
Now imagine your friend is receiving your curiosity well. How are they responding? Are they laughing, smiling, or being non-verbally expressive? What are they doing or saying, or even asking to you, to be curious about you in return?
Now imagine there’s a moment in the conversation where they’re not being curious to you. They’re maybe getting a little defensive or they’re reacting to what you’re saying in a way that is activating you in a particular way, what’s coming up for you in your body? How are you taking that in, and then choosing to respond to that with curiosity?
Are you asking them a question to get at the heart of what they’re feeling right now? Are you challenging your assumptions to see if the emotions that you think they’re feeling are the ones they’re actually experiencing? How are you responding in this tricky moment?
Now visualize yourself kind of getting back on track in conversation. Things are easing. You’re feeling back in the flow. It feels compassionate, heart-centered, curious again. You feel like what you’re saying matters and they feel like they matter as well. What are you feeling in your body as a result of that?
For example, do you have the sensation of warmness coming from your chest? Do you feel a tingly sensation in your belly? Do you feel your shoulders dropping?
Finally, visualize yourself thanking your friend for their time, for their curiosity, for your friendship. How do you do that? Are you extending a hug? Or what are you saying?
And then imagine yourself departing and heading off back home or to wherever is next on your day.
And finally, to close out, I want you to turn your attention back onto your breath. Observe yourself taking a deep inhalation, and a deep exhalation.
And do at least two more deep inhales and exhales.
And now I invite you to gently open your eyes, and come back into awareness of your surroundings.
There’s no ends to how you can use this practice. and although we can’t predict what the conversation might look like, this might not be the exact way it plays out, this mental rehearsal is a psychological tool that we can use to better prepare ourselves and set the intention for curiosity in a moment where we feel like it’s really needed. And I hope it serves you well and brings you a deep sense of curiosity and connection.
Dacher Keltner: That was Scott Shigeoka, author of the new book, Seek: How Curiosity Can Transform Your Life and Save the World. He’s a fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, where we produce The Science of Happiness and Happiness Break.
Thank you as always for joining us on this Happiness Break and we’re rooting for you in whatever tough conversation you have coming up; that you find calm, curiosity, and deeper connection through it. Have a great day.