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Judgment v. curiosity

Making Sense of Life

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By Dr. Terry Drew Kaaren

Do you enjoy the work of Emma Curtis Hopkins? If you’re unfamiliar with her name, she was a well-known teacher in the New Thought Movement went it was young. One of my favorite sayings of hers is about being in “high bustle reaction.”

For you youngins who may not be familiar with a bustle, it was that piece of clothing in the Victorian era that women wore under their large skirts. It was pretty high up, but to be in high bustle reaction that puppy must have been very noticeable as a lady rushed around being frantic about something.

It’s a great term in our time, too. We all tend to get our knickers in a twist, as my English best mate, Sheila, would say. We are hearing daily about the completely bizarre, unacceptable and outrageous comments and actions of others. This is particularly true of government officials and groups whose primary purpose is the divide, not unite. With so much contentiousness swirling around us like this week’s Hurricane Florence, how can we effectively manage to stay centered?

Just like being in the eye of a hurricane where there is calm, we can release judgment in favor of curiosity. In doing so we can create peace during chaos. There’s a great deal to recommend having childlike wonderment with regard to the world and events around us. Rather than immediately responding with a defensive attitude or self-righteous indignation to things not to our liking, we can choose to make an inquiry into the circumstances.

We can be curious, childlike, and see to understand more than to be understood. Understanding, however, doesn’t imply that we must agree with the situation or ideology being thrust upon us. But curiosity and understanding can be amazingly effective tools for bringing us out of judgment to a place of peaceful actions toward change in our own lives. We don’t have control over the actions of others. But we do have complete control over what we choose to think and how we act.

I’ve personally lived with this philosophy of curiosity over judgement for several years now. I’m not perfect at it. Sometimes I get on my soapbox, ranting and raving about nonsense. But when I can practice what I’m preaching here my life works much better.

I was recently reminded about this technique by my friend and colleague, Michelle Wadleigh. She was interviewed a few weeks ago by Marie Kirkland on her popular podcast, “Living Aligned, Living Forward.” The episode is part of Marie’s “Spiritual Mentorship” series, and titled, “Stepping Into Your Courage.” You can click here to listen to the interview.Michelle’s comments about how “a curious mind cannot be a judgmental mind,” starts at 19:01. (Though I’m sure you’ll enjoy the whole episode!)

Consider Michelle’s ideas about curiosity and judgment. They are effective and loving ways of living a more peaceful and happy life. Can’t we all use a little more of that right now?

Terry is an author, speaker, licensed social worker and flight attendant. He is also the director of Spirit, Mind and Body Foundation (spiritmindbodyfoundation.org).