1) ‘Curiosity’

I have always been curious. To quote James Clear, one of my favourite authors, “Knowledge is the compound interest of curiosity”. But why am I curious? What exactly is curiosity? I truly believe curiosity is what keeps a human sane, that is to keep going and be hopeful for future experiences.

I believe curiosity and happiness have a direct link. When I think about past events I have been involved in and when I have truly and deeply connected to something, it always leaves me with a passion and a sense of happiness.

Happiness in today’s world however is a very complex and subjective argument. If I had to ask you, ‘What is your purpose in life?’, everyone’s answer is different. Some may believe in being enriched in wealth, some will want to raise a family and some will want to be in a high position in a career. Some may want to just feel loved by the people around them. We are here for a reason, and we all have different purposes to serve in life.

Humans learn through our curiosity of the people around us. This fundamentally constructs your appreciation for everyone around you and those that have gone (I.e. Historical figures, family members). How humans connect from different backgrounds, beliefs, interests and goals, is truly astonishing.

Think about social media for example. With our friends lists on Facebook or our following list on Twitter and Instagram, there are so many different types of people and they each have their own story and journey. Sure, you must focus on yourself, what direction you are heading in and the path you will take. However, we come across so many different people along the way, and you sharing your experiences and knowledge, is what ultimately will keep the human race sustainable for generations to come.

Always be thankful for anyone you have engaged with in your life, negative or positive. You have learned something from everyone and it is knowing that by meeting many different types of people in the future, will make you stronger.

Social Media

In the 21st century, social media is such a widely consumed platform, where millions of people are curious daily, albeit with its flaws. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a fantastic platform, it has made me laugh, smile, connect and feel emotion many times. Of course, there are positives and negatives to anything, and platforms like Instagram can suffer from this. Take a look for yourself, how many Instagram models or celebrities with millions of followers post about their extravagant life. So many! So I stop to think, are they truly happy? They present themselves this way, but often many think it is a cover up.

For example, on the True Geordie Podcast (Episode #115) this is evidenced. This episode explores the life of multi-millionaire Daniel Bilzerian. What is interesting is thinking metaphorically about the conversation, the contrast between the hosts (Brian Davis, commonly known as ‘The True Geordie’ and Lawrence Mckenna) and then to Daniel (The guest) is clear as daylight. Don’t get me wrong, I think Daniel is a great guy who has an interesting story, but it however shows that ultimately, money and fame, is not eternal happiness for everyone. If you look at the tone of voice, passion and art of conversation shown by all three of them, two of them stand out as interesting people to me, and that’s the hosts.

True Geordie Podcast (Episode #115) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVNXiNAS2tc

What is fascinating about social media to me is it is constant. It never stops. I am quite a visual learner, so Instagram is a nightmate. I am always intrigued about what ones view is on something, an image or a piece of information I never knew about. Follow the right social media accounts, you can learn a lot from it, more than you can imagine. Whilst I have always been trying to cut down on my social media usage, I cannot argue against its impact. I follow many Instagram accounts, simply because I am curious. I want to learn about different perspectives and viewpoints on different particular interests in life. It is something our brains cannot fathom and it becomes very complex.

Often, too much information can be presented to us, which I believe social media is an example of that. I truly believe that our brains cannot process the amount of social media there is available nowadays.

Think to yourself about the times you have surfed and scrolled through social media. What have you learned? For me, every time I go onto social media, I always learn something new. Which is great. However, in the midst of positive, creative and knowledgeable posts, there also comes negativity, and sometimes harassment. That, briefly, is the power of social media and our brains. We are biologically wired to it. It’s like a rat being hit with a pleasure nerve. This comes from every time you refresh your feed, dopamine secrets within the brain, bringing us pleasure. So if every time we go onto social media, to follow something, read or comment on something, we must connect with it. Otherwise after a while, our brain will be used to negativity, if that’s who you choose to follow. Then where does that take you?

How about use social media for the benefit. Be grateful we live in an age where we can connect with people across the world at our fingertips and within the palm of our hands. Be grateful we can have instant access to information and news. We are the most informed generation for a reason.

Daniel Sharman

Daniel Sharman, a London actor formally of ‘Teen Wolf’ (2012-2014) ,’Fear the Walking Dead’ (2017) and Medici: The Magnificent (2018-2020), has also presented this view on the Heard Podcast (‘The Artful Way with Daniel Sharman | Episode 206’) hosted by Benjamin Mathes (an advocate for Free Listening).

I came across this podcast following browsing the internet, once again being curious, to find out about the actor following his great performance within Fear the Walking Dead. What is funny is I’m grateful for doing that search. I have probably listened to that podcast episode over 30 times. Not even kidding. Which I do not think is a normal thing to do.

However, I connect with it. If I am not feeling myself, if I need a bit of extra motivation and if I need a reminder about curiosity and being hopeful for the world, I will turn to that podcast.

Daniel Sharman at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Sharman

Daniel talks about many key issues and themes. He dives into the importance of being part of a community and providing service (i.e. working in a church or in a school), linking this to how humans are biologically wired to be in a band of 30 or so people. Here, he makes a link to the history of Homo Sapiens by referencing a best-selling million copy Author and Historian Yuval Noah Harari and his books, ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ ,‘Homo Daus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’ and ’21 lessons for the 21st Century’. Daniel expresses his interest in art, not only physical art, but also forms of media, such as classic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. His interest in art comes from his recent Netflix series he has worked on as the lead role, a series called Medici: The Magnificent.

He played the role of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492), a famous Italian Florentine Banker, statesmen, but most importantly, a man of vision, a belief in advancing the world. I took some time to finally binge watch the show on Netflix, following listening to the podcast two years ago. This prompted me to read more about the Medici family tree (being curious). Prior to this, I did not know anything about the Medici, so I find it amazing what you can learn in a short period of time.

Lorenzo de’ Medici Portrait http://medicidynasty.com/lorenzo-the-medici-who-was-magnificent/

Being a historical drama, I have learned a lot from that show. What is interesting about the link Daniel makes with the Medici is the impact of famous Italian Renaissance artists and polymaths, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo. Since Lorenzo was the owner of the bank in Florence, inherited from his father Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici from Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici, Lorenzo was one of the richest people in the world at that time, thus he funded these artists, providing them with shelter and supporting their work.

So without Lorenzo, Sandro Botticelli would not have painted the famous ‘The Birth of Venus’ painting which is as common in Italy as the uses of Nazi propaganda, such as the Swastika, in Nazi Germany (1933–1945). Without Lorenzo, Leonardo da Vinci would never have painted the ‘Mona Lisa’, one of the most famous pieces of art in history. Leonardo, without Lorenzo’s backing, would also have not studied human physics, as well as our biological makeup, which means our current knowledge in science, technology and engineering, may not have been revolutionised.

Lorenzo’s son, Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici, also became Pope Leo X in 1513 following Lorenzo’s death in 1492 at a young age of 43. What is interesting about this is that becoming a pope is equated to becoming the president of the United States of America in today’s society, it is a special position built on hope and riches. So as you can see, one mans vision, became ultimately successful.

‘The Birth of Venus’ Portrait by Sandro Botticelli (1480s) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus

But why exactly did Lorenzo fund these artists? Why throw away such an investment he had built his whole life? One word, curiosity.

In the fifteenth century, carrying into the sixteenth century, people were so curious about the world. Much was to be explored and found out. Lorenzo is a person many can inspire to be, a man of vision and a belief in advancing the world, much like Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Cook. Many scientists have this same ideology, and it is no coincidence that Lorenzo also integrated science into Florence at the time, spreading across Europe like a plague.

William Shakespeare, a famous playwright responsible for ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Hamlet’ for example, caught this renaissance plague. He would not have had his plays come to life at theatres in London, such as the Globe Theatre, without investment from the Medici family. What you can take from this is that often in life, everything has a domino effect. What one does, often impacts another. Often this happens when we do something good for someone, it provides a benefit for both parties, similar to a treaty for example.

It is interesting within the conversation Daniel has on the Heard Podcast is of his connection to Lorenzo. Yes, Lorenzo was not a very popular person towards the end of his life, since several branches of his family bank collapsed because of bad loans, and in later years he got into financial difficulties and resorted to misappropriating trust and state funds. However, Lorenzo is one of the most important people in Western European history because he funded art and believed in the gift of science and mathematical advances (Which Leonardo Da Vinci provided).

The reason this inspires me and Daniel is because he had a vision to advance the world, and by doing so he advanced Florence into a major superpower. This is a key principle that everyone should have in life. The want to make a difference, provide for others and express your talents. It is why making the most of opportunities and trying to benefit those around you through curiosity, will ultimately be your greatest gift.

Daniel also denotes in the podcast how he used to freak out watching the stars in the sky, realising the perspective that us as humans are part of a massive Universe and in some ways we’re ‘insignificant’. Daniel then says that to cure his form of depression at the time, he realised that space and the stars, everything in this world, would not exist without him being alive to see it. This is very important. Taking on this message frequently made it very important to me about creating a reality where my actions are the product of my choices and core beliefs. This is your chance. What you see around you is directly linked to you and your actions.

This podcast has taught me very important foundations and morals. The importance of helping others to serve a ‘community’, the importance of being ‘curious’ and to want to continuously learn through new experiences, as well as recognising the importance our significance and how we can all make a difference to the world. It is the kind of podcast that will make you think deeply and I highly recommend it. 

Historically

Historic curiosity is also well known within humans. Henry 8th (1491-1547) I always find to be a very fascinating figure. But why? To some people he is just another guy, a tyrannical figure who is shown to be obese, violent and ruthless. Why does that interest someone like me who holds none of those qualities? Well here is why.

Recently I have finished the historical drama series ‘The Tudors’ starring the likes of John Rhys Myers, Henry Cavill and Natalie Dormer. I have also read many books on the Tudors, including ‘The Tudor Kings and Queens’ by Alex Woolf and have spent countless hours on the internet reading about the Tudor dynasty. I am the type of person to spend hours on Wikipedia or sites like Quora, searching for answers I need. My curiosity binds from many questions I have about the period and understanding the Tudors fundamentally as human beings, which I find to be fascinating.

Read this:

From the integration of science following the dark middle ages, to the belief in a monarch being the closest thing to god and becoming the supreme head of the church following abandoning papal authority (Rome). To the brutality of the arrest of Anne Boleyn and the allegations of her ‘adultery’ with over 100 men.

Not to mention Henry making England bankrupt in order to claim glory at the Battle of Flodden (1513) against Scotland (1st Foreign policy) across the border following Rough Wooing (Ongoing Border raids) and to then ultimately claim the French Throne, seen with the Battle of the Spurs (1513) and the captures of small French towns Tournai and Thérouanne (1st Foreign policy) and then most notably with his capture of Boulogne (1544) (2nd Foreign policy) towards the end of his life, in order replicate the success of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt 1415 who claimed the French Throne.

Clearly, Henry was an ambitious man, however he was ultimately unsuccessful in claiming the French throne and put his country in serious debt and risk, until his daughter Elizabeth I erased this many years after his death.

Henry 8th Portrait by Hans Holbein (1536–1537) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_Henry_VIII

Domestically, the need for a male heir was his ultimate goal, which presented many complications. Of course, thinking in periodic terms, male heirs had to be produced. The patriarchal society meant that a female could not rule, which had only happened once before in history with Matilda of Scotland reigning in her husband, Henry I’s, absence between 1100-1118, who unfortunately provoked a civil war.

Therefore, the birth of Lady Mary, from Catherine of Aragon, and Princess Elizabeth, from Anne Boleyn, was completely ignored by Henry. Mary was deemed illegitimate following ‘the kings great matter’ which was Henry’s attempt to obtain a divorce from Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. Many factors as to why Henry wanted to marry Anne have been researched by scholars, which includes Henry falling in love with Anne following a series of love letters, however it is most likely known that Henry wanted to marry the youthful Anne Boleyn as she would be able to provide Henry with a male heir to expand the Tudor Dynasty line of succession, because of the many miscarriages and the older age of Catherine.

Within the Leviticus 20:21, it stated that “If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing…they shall be childless.” Therefore, Henry was able to obtain his divorce, since this references Catherine’s marriage, prior to marrying Henry, to his brother Arthur Tudor who died in 1502. Despite the fall of Thomas Wolsey in 1530, Henry’s must trusted servant and chief advisor/minister, Henry got what he wanted.

Anne’s child, the lady Elizabeth who would eventually go on to become one of Britain’s and the world’s greatest monarchs, Elizabeth I, was deemed illegitimate several years later because of Henry’s complications of his marriage to Anne Boleyn which was of course her failure to deliver Henry a son, blamed on Anne’s affairs with other nobles and servants at the Tudor court, ultimately leading to her brutal execution.

Henry 8th and Anne Boleyn at the Tudor Court, Whitehall Palace https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-figures/anne-boleyn.htm

From these short pieces of information that you have read, you have been curious. I have summed up Henry’s life. What that shows is a persons ability to learn so much about someone, in such a short space of time, is a skill humans thrive on. So apply this into your own life, what can you learn about others and their behaviours? Either through real life conversation or text. You can learn so much in so little time.

Sure, you may not want to learn about the Tudors or not care, however curiosity is not always about engagement, but rather a person’s ability to understand a phenomenon and then apply this into different contexts.

Consider this:

What if Henry still had feelings towards Catherine following their divorce?. Consider if Anne Boleyn actually committed adultery (to which has been proven to not be true as the accounts of her alleged partners do not match up) and if Henry truly loved Jane Seymour, or did he just want her to produce a male heir alone (Edward VI).

What is ironic is that for all of Henry’s troubles he went through to produce a male heir, Edward died at only the young age of 15 from tuberculosis. Once again, think about that. The whole world at your feet, the future of England, destroyed through illness. Also, how can one go through with murdering their own wife? Did he truly want to abandon the papal church of Rome? I am curious.

The purpose of me including this piece about the Tudors is to not give you a history lesson but rather understand the most important quality anyone can ever have, understanding of human life. Forgetting about the executions (beheading) and wars, the principles of this dynasty can be presented to everyone’s current lives.

Without true understanding of people, can a relationship develop? Also, without being curious, how can one expand on a passion and pursue it in a career?

Thinking in Henry’s terms, his relationship with Catherine of Aragon, before pursuing Anne Boleyn, for example worked because they had a great understanding of each other. His marriage to Anne of Cleves, however, did not work because there was a lack of connection. It is a classic tale taught to young people across the country in order to realise that in the end, what matters is one’s happiness.

James Clear

In recent literature, James Clear, who wrote the book ‘Atomic Habits’, published in 2018,  also presents his views about happiness and the pursuit of goals. What is great about this book is it is now a staple for me, something to always reference. James Clear is also very active on Twitter and Instagram, which for daily motivation through his inspiring quotes and writing, is now beneficial for me. He also produces a weekly email newsletter called ‘3-2-1 Thursday’, which is 3 ideas, 2 quotes, 1 question. Simply brilliant.

James Clear writes about how applying habits into anyone’s life, will make significant changes. Within the book, he argues “New goals don’t deliver new results. Lifestyles do”, “A lifestyle is a process, not an outcome” and “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results”. Applying these practises, differences can be made. This includes the small things. Simply putting fruit and vegetables into your diet, signing up to a gym and having a regular schedule or having a desk in your room to produce work, are all good examples of how habits will start. This is because the more things are in our plain sight, the more likely we are to engage and do that said thing.

James Clear argues that by having good habits, your current self will develop, whilst bad habits will diminish your future. One of the best parts of the book is this, “We all want better lives for our future selves. However, when the moment of decision arrives, instant gratification wins”. This is bang on the money. Often, we look into the future and see a vision, but how many of us stick to a regular routine, put the work in and start to build good habits towards this future. I see so many people do this. They have a goal in mind, but then they just quit after a short while where they have a lack of motivation towards the goal.

From what I have learned, and what I can take from the book, everything starts small. It starts with the small steps. Five minutes of this. What can I plan to do today. What can I do on the side whilst I am working towards a bigger goal. Can I get a part-time job or volunteer somewhere to gain beneficial experience. Everything starts small. Often, our curiosity for our future leads us to want instant success. But that is unrealistic.

Life is not about instant gratification. It is about a process and making the steps to get to somewhere. Then you constantly move. Do not let curiosity take over you. Appreciate it in the moment.

James Clear speaking at ‘The Habits Academy’ https://jamesclear.com/courses

Harari

Historian and author, Yuval Noah Harari, wrote the book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, published in 2011. This non-fiction, scientific based book investigates the history of the earth, and how we have evolved from the stone age, building the world, to having nuclear weapons, that could end the world in present day. What is interesting is that in the life of a Homo Sapien, (Roughly 0.1 to 2 million years ago), their sole focus would be to burn fire to cook to feed for their families, hunt for 10 hours a day and talk over a campfire before resting as a community. The most important thing I have learned from this book is that this was happiness for them. It has provided me perspective. Since to us, that seems insignificant and boring. However, consider this:

In modern society, we work, study or volunteer from 7am to come back for 7 at night, come home to have to wash the dishes, do the ironing or complete more work before going to bed. Are people really happy doing this? Some may argue that BC (Before Christ) money was not on the line, which in present day balances where we live, what we can afford and have access to (I.e. Travel, clothing and entertainment). This is true. However, think fundamentally about it. Why do we get out of bed? Why do we spend many years of our life studying? Why do we try and build a career?

Our lives in present day are no different to the core values of those that lived in the cognitive revolution or the industrial revolution. We work, whilst hunter gatherers would craft weapons for their families next meal. They both draw a positive relationship with each other. We both want to develop, advance the world and build. This is based on curiosity of what our life will be like tomorrow. Also, how do we not know that hunter gatherers were more happier than present humans? There is potential behind that idea.

Yuval Noah Harari (2015) Speaking at a ‘Ted Talk’ on ‘What explains the rise of Humans?’ https://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_what_explains_the_rise_of_humans

So what makes us happy? Happiness to me is a continuous effect, to which I believe my accountability is a product of my choices and actions. The good I do for today, is the good for tomorrow. I cannot tell you the amount of people who have inspired me, helped me and most importantly, made me happy, without me expressing this and telling them. I am proposing to you that if someone helps you on the street, gives you a lift to your favourite night club or tells you they love you, say thank you. They will appreciate it, for this will make them happy.

Currently

Following reading ‘Homo Sapiens’, I truly want to find out more about happiness and curiosity. By writing this blog, I am expressing my happiness of providing for others and my passion for writing. Why? Simply because my blog aims to educate and help someone, since who knows who will read this. This is the power of not only our words, but also social media and technological platforms.

I want to help people, and I am continually seeking this. It does not even fathom to me about money, prestige or social importance. None of that really matters to me. If I am honest, I do not have a lot of money really, and I do not consider myself a popular person. If you were to ask me, ‘Why volunteer when you don’t earn money from it?’. My answer is happiness. Money does not even cross my mind, but what does is the smile on someone’s face, the intellectual conversation someone has with you, the transferring of knowledge to each other or the joy out of seeing someone improve and develop from your help.

That happiness is built on my curiosity for what this provides for me and people who I engage with. What will happen if I make someone’s day? How will my brain respond? What if I learn this fact about this person? You get the point.

Personal development bounds from happiness. I urge you to take 10 minutes out of each day to reflect on what you have done, even if it is not been your most productive or best day, we all have bad days, it helps. Many people are struggling, take for example the mentally ill posed with depression. They do not see value in themselves, and therefore self-reflection is not important. But what I am telling you is, someone out their values you and what you can provide, you just do not see it.

This happened to me. For I went through life not really getting noticed. I was always in the back of the crowd, still are, but the work I was producing was unnoticed, and I felt like I had a lack of empathy and happiness from others. It was only until I really reflected, that people do and did value me. But what I learned from that, is it is not about impressing others, or getting liked by hundreds of people, it is about if one person can deeply connect with me. That is what is most important.

Will Smith once said, “You don’t say I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built. You don’t start there. You say, I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid”. This is very interesting to me and is something that I have been applying to my own life. Laying that brick. Steps. In the right direction. Seizing the moment. Taking those opportunities. Making those contacts. Writing that text. Producing that piece of work. These are all steps in the right direction. I may not be at my long-term goal (Completing the wall), far from it and things will change along the way, but I am laying bricks everyday (Building).

Of course, you learn from each experience you take, negative or positive. But I have recognised I am on a journey. I am writing a story. Bad things will happen along the way. There will be times where I struggle. But the best humans, are the kind who weather the storm and look forward to the challenges ahead. Those who want to continuously improve.

Will Smith and his famous “You don’t set out to build a wall” quote https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIsgyIq_kFs

What you will find is that the process is more enjoyable than reaching the actual goal itself. How many times in your life have you had that feeling?. You reach a certain goal, let’s say you’ve lost 2 stone or you get hired at a new job position where your pay increases and you have more of an influence, and you feel great about it. In fact, you can’t stop thinking about it.

But you have this feeling of neglect. You think that all those gym sessions, the runs you went on and the work you’ve put in your journey, is way more enjoyable than taking that mirror selfie to show off your weight loss. I have felt this way. When you put in so much effort, you feel much more enjoyable within it than the final product.

Daniel Portman, a famous Glaswegian Scottish Actor, known mostly for his role as Poderick Payne on ‘Game of Thrones’ (2012-2019), once said on the True Geordie Podcast (‘Confessions of a Game of Thrones Star Part 2 | Episode #64’), “You’re stuck with you, be happy with you.” Daniel also states that in today’s society, “Men aren’t allowed to cry”. Once again, I have listened to this podcast over 20 times. His words inspire me greatly and I connect with what he is saying.

Daniel Portman (2017) on the True Geordie Podcast ‘Confessions of a Game of Thrones Star Part 2 | Episode #64’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZe1hNOSx3A

You must be happy with yourself; does it really matter if you do not have an expensive car? Or an expensive piece of clothing? No! What matters is your happiness with yourself. Surrounding yourself with the right people, who will motivate you and share their happiness. Also, everyone struggles. How many times have you seen it where people get shamed for letting out their true feelings or emotions. Forget that. That is what being a human being is all about. It is nothing about pride or ego, it is about being in the moment and deeply connecting with something.

Summary

Someone once said to me, “Kyle trust the process, but enjoy the process”. I have not stopped thinking about that conversation. How many times do we reach a goal, not appreciating all the work you went through and time spent on it. Yes, we can all aim for something, of course we can achieve anything we want with care and thought into it, however enjoying the journey and the ride, you will seek happiness from that. So enjoy it. Celebrate your progress. Continuously learn about yourself. Want to improve and develop all the time. Want to find out more about life. For that is true curiosity.

Kyle Charles Dunn

‘Curiosity’ By Kyle Charles Dunn

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