The virtue of Curiosity

“Curious is a good thing to be, it seems to pay some unexpected dividends.”

Iggy Pop

In my current line of work, I’ve noticed that the most curious kids tend to be the ones who find the most satisfaction- and success- in learning. They ask hard questions about things others take for granted, never satisfied with a simple “Just because” answer. Curiosity leads to a desire to know more; to learn more, see more and do more. 

My philosophy teachers always expounded the principal of honesty in ignorance: Accept that there are things you don’t know. The more that I realized I was uncertain about, the more curious I became to find out what the truth was, if indeed there was any to be found at all.

Curiosity leads us down the paths often left untraveled by the timid or tame. It leads us away from the deceit offered up by matronly comfort and shows us the way to independence and resilience. Curiosity is a teacher that never questions your ability to experience and learn something new.

I think back to some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far, and they all come from a place of curiosity. I’m no more or less curious than anyone else as a person, if anything I used to be far from it. But upon reflection, it’s the “What ifs” and “Why is” that have lead me to places,  people and experiences that I would never have imagined as a twenty year old. Curiosity also lead me to Jiu-jitsu, which without I would undoubtedly not be here to write this. 

Einstein said “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”, but I would adjust it so:

Once you stop learning, you are dead. 

Being curious means leading a life full of learning; accepting that we can always find out more about ourselves and the world we live in. If you’re not doing that, or at least trying to in some small way every day, then you’re not really alive.

Foster your sense of curiosity. You will thank yourself for it later.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

 

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Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection

Two of the most important things I have learnt in the fields of education and Philosophy are Objectivity and Relativity.

Recently I’ve come to see just how broadly these two ways of thinking apply beyond just these two fields; particularly in my BJJ practice.

*For the sake of this exploration, I would like to work with the following definitions of Objectivity & Relativity.

1. Objectivity refers to concrete or set axioms (statements) of truth that do not shift regardless of which perspective they are examined from.

2. Relativity refers to statements which, depending on the perspective they are approached from, will have a subjective value; being either true or false depending on the conditions of the situation or person.

Let’s continue…

Continue reading “Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection”

Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.

If you have a look at the top level competitors and practitioners in any sport, you begin to notice that they have a style that is distinctly their own.

It is extremely uncommon for us to be able to draw analogies between the greats of any sporting field, especially martial arts. We see this distinctly within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu too; any of the highest level competitors are very distinct in their strategies, style and technique.

Originality (and your ability to be original) plays a major factor in your improvement. Here are two ways originality can impact on your Jiu Jitsu. Continue reading “Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.”

Testing your ideas

Everything is just a theory until we put it into practice. 

I can hold beliefs and opinions about a great many things. However, those theories mean nothing if they are not confirmed by application. This is a crucial differentiation to make: It does not necessarily follow that something should be just because you believe it to be. You must test your beliefs and apply them to make sure that they are confirmed by reality. 

Just because someone holds the belief that they are the best, does not necessarily mean they are the best. They have to test this belief by weighing their skills against others. Their beliefs will only be confirmed if the results confirm them.

When someone dictates their opinions to others without having their opinions questioned or tested in an open exchange or dialogue, they are being irrational. Rationality is reality. If I roll up to training or my job believing that I am already the best, that I have nothing left to learn, I will be unable to improve. I would be holding an irrational belief about myself and my abilities that would only serve to hold me back; restricting my ability to grow as a professional, a martial artist or human being

We must learn to be willing to test all of our most precious ideas and beliefs. If you hold something to be too sacred to you- and it is irrational- you dig the grave for your own personal and intellectual growth.

So, before you hit someone with an “I think..” or a “You should…”, try asking “What do you think…” or “What should I…” I lose interest so rapidly in a one way conversation where I’m being told rather than being listened to. Most people are, even if they’re too polite to tell you.

Don’t punish people with irrational ideas, put your ego aside and try to engage people intellectually; you might even learn something.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

 

Presence of mind: The importance of mental presence in learning.

“What’s the secret?” 

Who has heard this before? With reference to learning; there is no secret. There is no cheat code that lets you skip the hard work, the effort and demands of improving and learning something new. However, as is the focus of quite a few discussions here at Articulate BJJ, there are specific habits we can develop that will help us to maximize, and maybe even fast track, your learning. One of these is Mental Presence.

Continue reading “Presence of mind: The importance of mental presence in learning.”

Thoughts on Having an Open Mind

“Oh, I don’t need to learn this. It doesn’t fit into my game plan.” or “I already know this, I don’t need to practice it.” are examples of what got me thinking about this next topic: Being Open-Minded. 

I think I’ve been very fortunate to have had teachers, friends and peers who have modeled open minded behavior throughout my learning. I think it is also because I have been surrounded by this positive behavior that it comes as a shock to me when I see people uttering statements such as the above.

It takes humility for a person to admit they don’t know something; many of us don’t want to risk looking stupid in the face of our colleagues, partners or friends whose opinions we value. Above humility, it also takes a lot of effort for us to be open-minded. In the gym, the work place or even in the company of friends, being open minded is an invaluable attribute. Continue reading “Thoughts on Having an Open Mind”