When I was growing up, my incessant questions were often dismissed with a reminder that curiosity killed the cat. The message, intended or not, was that shrinking was preferable to exploring. This repeated warning has an impact that goes far beyond the deceased cat.

The death of curiosity is the beginning of a lackluster life. Without curiosity we avoid challenges, growth and new experiences. Our world gets smaller and smaller as our fears grow bigger and bigger.

According to researchers, curiosity is more important than intelligence. In fact, there’s nothing silly about it. Here are some easy ways to keep feeding yours.

° Pick a theme and do a photo essay. With everyone running around with a digital camera in their hands these days, it’s never been easier.

Why not create a story in pictures? How about photographing the evolution of your business? Or portraits of people who have made a difference in your life? You might even end up with a new product.

° Lighten up. Curiosity doesn’t do well in a cluttered environment. Taking a load of stuff to the thrift store or donating books to the library are great stress relievers—and open up space for curiosity to come alive.

Get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t express the latest version of you. As you’re sorting through the things that fill your life, keep asking questions about what fits and what has outlived its usefulness.

° Make creative cross training a regular activity. When Georgia Makitalo began doing mosaic work, she discovered that her writing output increased as well.

Anything that stimulates your creative spirit will have a multiplying effect.

Yet it’s easy to let fear and self-doubt keep us from venturing into unknown territory. Get over it.

° Go on a Curious Excursion. You don’t have to go far, but it’s useful if you go someplace new. Of course, museums are perfect for such an exploration, but so is a large hardware store.

° Earn money in a new way. It’s as good for your confidence as it is for your bank account to expand your moneymaking repertoire.

At the beginning, the amount of money isn’t nearly as important as the experience.

It’s about building an Option Bank.

° Feather your nest. Even in a place where you’ve lived for a long time, nesting can be a creative opportunity.

I love Thomas Moore’s observation: “The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

° Adopt something. Whether it’s a cause, an orphaned animal or a fledgling entrepreneur, give yourself to something or someone that needs your support and live.

You’ll both be better for it.

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