Humility and Curiosity

Over the past five months, my wife and I have been adjusting to our roles as new parents. It’s a stressful gig! There are endless amounts of diapers, sleepless nights, and fits of crying for no apparent reason. Of course, there are also moments that make it all worthwhile – the smiles and giggles that now fill my phone.

Parenting comes with an immense amount of responsibility. Not only are you charged with providing for this little human, you’re supposed to raise him into a respectable adult. The pressure!

There are countless online articles listing out values we should instill on the younger generation for a better tomorrow. I know because I’ve spent quite a lot of time reading about them. Even before he was born, my wife and I were pouring over a list of 30 rules we wanted our son to adopt; maxims like: “In a game of HORSE, sometimes a simple free throw will get ’em.” and  “If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.”

I recently finished reading Factfulness, an insightful book about why the world is in a better place than it might appear. I have a lot of highlights from the book, but one in particular stood out as I had this idea of raising a respectable little human running through my head.

Most important of all, we should be teaching our children humility and curiosity.

Adopting humility, the author describes, means that you’re willing to say “I don’t know.” You recognize the limits of your knowledge, and you’re realistic about your strengths and shortfalls. Perhaps most importantly, “it also means, when you do have an opinion, being prepared to change it when you discover new facts.”

Curiosity means constantly exploring new ideas and seeking out new information. It means “embracing facts that don’t fit your worldview and trying to understand their implications.” When you’re curious, you don’t get embarrassed when you make a mistake. Instead, you get excited and ask yourself, “How could I be so wrong about that? What can I learn from it?”

Humility, as the author states, is freeing because you can stop pretending like you know everything. Curiosity is exciting since you’re always bumping up against something new.

There are a hundreds of other values I want to pass on to our son. I want him to say “Please” and “Thank you” along with “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” like he’s from the South even though he’ll grow up in Colorado. I want him to learn the values of hard work and charity. I want him to be brave and courageous. All the values I imagine all parents want their children to embody. After reading the passage on humility and curiosity in Factfulness, I bumped those to the top of my list. They’re not all-encompassing, but they sure are a good start.

Beyond raising children, I’d posit we could all benefit from having a bit more humility and curiosity in our lives.