Reversing Desensitization And Dehumanization
As a human, it's important to keep our capacity to care and stay curious. As children, we learn to go from satisfying internal needs to external ones, forming healthy habits. As adults, it's easy to become distracted and stuck in the daily grind. I'm here to remind you to stay open to trying new things and exploring new paths. Read on to find out how to stay curious and engaged in life.
Stay Curious and Engaged: How to Reclaim Your Capacity to Care and Explore New Paths
By Michael Levin
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
It’s good to care. If you find yourself caring about anything, that’s a good thing. It’s a precious gift of being human. Hang onto it. The enemy of “being human” is the loss of the capacity to care which we acquire as young children. First we go from infants only caring about satisfying internal bodily functions like hunger to satisfying more external ones like curiosity. We go from nearly unaware infants to curious toddlers.
During this curious toddler phase, we can start to form good life habits towards curiosity and learning. Labels like education, math, science and literacy haven’t yet come along to ruin those very topics by creating labels against which it’s fashionable rebel—especially math. We can as youngsters still immerse ourselves into a thing uninhibited for long enough to somehow change us and entice us to come back for more, thus changing more. It’s a virtuous feedback loop often lost as adults learning to punch a clock, pay taxes and otherwise yield to the daily grind.
Things layer up over time, good and bad. Being exposed to a potentially life-changing thing a single time isn’t always enough to ignite a passion. Distractions that you care about more now, but which in the long run matter much less, pull you away and block you from discovering new things.
Things you never heard of yet or have the wrong idea about today could become a new center of your life and a new source for energy and happiness if you just took the approach of a non-spoiled youngster on first, second and maybe even third pass. If passion isn’t sparked after a few exposures, it’s fine to move on of the promise of rewards isn’t enticing enough. That’s not quitting. It’s living life, so long as you’re open enough to try the next thing.
False-topics of caring drilled into us by parents and schools at this time that don’t always align to our vibes, and even becoming a child prodigy violinist or whatnot could unintentionally throw up new walls and block new paths to discovery. It’s fine to become good at things young and not to care about it on the long run. You’ve sampled life. You’ve explored potential new realities. Some peoples passion becomes just that, the trying of new things. I’m not advocating becoming an experience hoarder, but rather the openness to keep trying and start caring about something new.
Not caring is a sort of stasis, or passing on a turn in a game. Becoming an “adult” is often a matter of learning to care less and pass up on lots of turns. At some point you realize you can’t care about everything worth caring about, and so to protect your own sanity you learn to put up walls. With such walls up, the challenge then becomes to to be happy with what’s already behind those walls. There’s an appealing stability in this and is how I think most people live their lives.
We can’t all be extreme sports athletes, skydivers and other travelers, and that’s fine. Some of us are born with homebody vibes and getting out to do anything is a chore. I’m a homebody and the idea of going out and doing anything is often a horrible prospect. The pandemic has improved my life immensely by getting rid of the daily commute, and I feel more “myself” than I have since I was a child. This is a dangerous state for an adult and could result in a funk.
I could construct some pretty insurmountable walls around myself and turn inward until I die and experience a sort of happiness, or at least contentedness. While this thought is cozy and appealing, this is not what I want. It is a falsehood that this is even an option. Realities of life force us to engage different ways and at different times. For example, I still need to make a living. So I fight the tendency to isolate myself and so I still get out from time to time, but I am thrilled that deep exploration of new things is now possible online.