“Be Curious, Not Judgmental”

Last Updated: December 5, 2022

Something Walt Whitman Used To Say

Here’s a little instruction for life. An invitation, you might call it, to listen better. For your life, my life, any life. A little something Walt Whitman once wrote, no less, a little piece of advice that’ll serve you well. Now, then, forever.

And here it is: “Be curious, not judgmental.”

  • Be curious. Wonder awhile, listen, allow yourself to not know.
  • Not judgemental. Not “I know what this means”, not imagining the worst, not coming to hasty conclusions.

Be here, not there. Be now, not then. Be curious, not judgemental…


Be Curious, Not Judgemental…

When something happens that you don’t want to happen.

When you don’t get what you want.

When somebody else does it better than you.

Be curious, not judgemental.

When you hear NO rather than YES.

When it’s just taking too long.

When you’re listening to a story with an obvious ending.

Be curious, not judgemental.

When the same thing keeps happening to you, again and again.

When somebody is saying something (saying anything).

When you’re having the same negative thoughts in your head.

Be curious, not judgemental.

When you feel awful inside.

When the world outside feels scary.

When you just don’t know what to do.

Be curious, not judgemental.

When the path seems to come to an end.

When the money runs out.

When the words dry up.

Be curious, not judgemental.


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How To Be Curious?

“How, then, to be curious and not judgemental?”

How to be curious?

Er, obvious answer: don’t be judgemental, that’s how.

And listen for a feeling.

Because being judgemental has a certain feeling to it, I’ve found, a certain tension (that don’t feel good!).

So notice if you’re feeling judgemental. And get curious about that. That’s a good place to start. (Because – and did you know? – it’s ALWAYS possible to be curious!)

And how does curiosity feel?

The same way awe feels like, I guess. And wonder. And fascination. And having a question that you don’t have an answer to (sometimes).

Curiosity doesn’t come with a ‘bad’ feeling, judgement usually does.

Judgement goes by the name of FACT, sometimes: This IS going to happen, it WILL be a disaster, I just KNOW.

Judgement goes by names like prejudice, discrimination and separation.

Or it can pretend to be wisdom. Or evidence. Or certainty.

Judgement can often look like the bestest of friends, it can, the one that’s got your back – except it isn’t, and it doesn’t.

But understand this: judgement, and curiosity are simply two sides of the same coin. (How curious.) Curiosity is openness, and jugdement is the opposite.

Do you see that?

(I’m curious.)

Want some examples? I got some examples. Think “Brexit”, or “Donald Trump”, or “Global Warming”, or “Capitalism”, “Communism” or “Socialism”.

You COULD be curious about all of the above, with their potential for the catastrophic in your mind’s eye. And you could easily be judgemental about what these words stir up in you, too. (“What happens when!…”, kind of thing.)

Curiosity genuinely doesn’t know, it wants to find out more, whilst judgement already knows enough.

Curiosity goes by names like listening, appreciation and connection.

Yes, curiosity is listening intently, listening deeply, listening beyond the words. Judgement is filling in the gaps, not questioning anything, focussing on the words alone.

Curiosity is the moment without the stories, meanings, or predictions.

Curiosity is neutral, judgement is not.

Curiosity is the moment without ego.

Curiosity is life without measurements, comparisons, and commentary

Curiosity: a consideration, or space, that it might not mean what you think it means! (Note: ‘might not’ is my kind, polite way of saying DOES NOT.) And the mere possibility that it might not (DOES NOT) mean what you think it means, is your opportunity to…

You guessed it – be curious (not judgemental).


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Your Turn: Be Curious, Not Judgemental Right Now!

Don’t take my word for it, though, of course – try it out for yourself.

Get curious about curiosity, get curious about judgement, judge your curiosity – and see what you notice for yourself. About this moment. About ‘that’ time in your life. About a future you might be imagining, right now.

Be curious, not judgemental. Not a commandment. Not a prescription. Not a way to ‘get’ anything. Rather an invitation to play with your experience of life, to play with your experience of yourself and who you think you are.

Or, better still, a natural consequence of understanding, deep down inside, that you are (and always have been) innately healthy and innately okay.

That you are, interestingly, the ultimate object of your curiosity.

“Clarity doesn’t come from thought. It comes from action.”
– Marie Forleo

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
– Dorothy Parker

“Be curious, not judgemental.”
– Walt Whitman


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