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Why It Is Better to Follow Curiosity than Passion

I would really like a gardenia plant of my very own.

This seems like quite a simple goal.

Except for the fact that I have no yard. And I live in a second-story garage apartment with no outside porch. And I have a renowned brown thumb.

So every time I go to the grocery story and see those short green potted plants with the telltale white tags (the ones with the pictures of the gardenias on them) I force myself to walk by.

Sometimes my willpower flags and I stop. When this happens, I force myself to look at the price tag first. Upon seeing the $30 or $40 on the tag, I then find new motivation to make myself to walk on by yet again.

But this doesn’t stop me from wanting a gardenia plant.

In a recent blog post, I mentioned I’ve started reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.”

Last night I got to the part where Gilbert shares why she likes curiosity better than passion. 

She says that curiosity is playful, undemanding, fun-loving, interesting.

Even better, curiosity is interested….it is as curious about us as we are about it….and it wants to have a conversation with us about intriguing things.

Passion, on the other hand, is intense. Demanding. All-consuming. Self-centered.

Where curiosity is fine with tinkering, passion is obsessed with perfection.

So while many mentors and teachers today might encourage us to “find our passion,” Gilbert wants us to look for our curiosity instead.

Where, she asks, do we sense even the teensiest bit of interest in something?

Is there anything – anything at all – that intrigues us?

Do we have an idea (say, perhaps about having a gardenia plant) that sounds, well, nice?

Follow that, she says.

Follow that curiosity, that interest, that milder cousin of passion that asks oh-so-little of us – a few minutes of time, a simple internet search, a realization that gardenia plants are, after all, potted (or at least the smallish ones at the grocery store are) and could fit quite nicely beside the front door in the small concrete open space there….

Today’s TakeawayHave you ever tried to “follow your passion” only to be met with frustration or defeat? Have you ever considered following simple curiosity instead and just seeing where it may lead? Gilbert mentions that her curiosity about gardening led her to write her book “The Signature of All Things.” What if you decided to follow just one little thing you are curious about….?

Gardenia photo available from Shutterstock

Why It Is Better to Follow Curiosity than Passion

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2020). Why It Is Better to Follow Curiosity than Passion. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2020
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