By Cindy Fisher, MA, RCC

I love the concept of curiosity. I know ... apparently it killed the cat ... but I think it's much safer for humans.

I believe most people have been socialized to not show curiosity. Think of a child who gets disciplined for taking apart a toy they were just given for their birthday. Or maybe when growing up, you were told to mind your own business. Have you ever been curious about something, but didn't ask a question for fear of looking incompetent?

We can learn so much from the animal kingdom. When you watch a cat or dog in a new environment, the first thing they do is to be curious. They prowl around, check everything out, and have no shame about it!

So what might change in your life if you chose to be more curious?

The most impactful change would probably be the release of judgments, assumptions and of expectations for the future. How many times do we "know" - just "know" with "certainty" - what's going to happen in the future? For instance, you may think you know how your boss will react when you ask for a day off during the company's busy period. But do you? Or you know your spouse will get angry when you tell him or her that you are offended by something they said. Or will they?

One problem with believing you know the future is that it doesn't give as much room for people to change. If you keep expecting the same thing from people, then you'll probably get it.

Amazingly, the world so often fits what you're looking for. To quote Sir Winston Churchill, "You create your own universe as you go along."

However, if you approach a situation from a place of curiosity, you will genuinely not know how a person will respond to you. You will have to let go of judging them, making assumptions, and of your expectations, as you are waiting and wondering about what is going to happen. It's a fun, free place to be.

And it opens up a whole new world. You'll be amazed at how often you get surprised by people when you stay open to every possible outcome. Or even if they don't surprise you, your response to their sameness will change. By being curious, you will also be less likely to slot people's reactions into the "I knew it" category. This reduces the times you force someone's response or the outcome of a situation to fit with your perception or expectations.

So the next time you are in a familiar situation that you just know what the outcome will be, see what happens when you approach it from a place of curiosity. Aren't you curious about what might change for you?