Flex Your Discovery Muscles

While taking a look into the paths of mastery and mystery, a question popped to mind –

if we became skilled explorers of the unknown, would we be Masters of Mystery?

Or would such a title add too much pressure on curious explorations to throw them right back on the trail of seeking right answers?


Fortunately for us, mystery only needs a drop of curiosity to take hold and grow rather than a title.

click infographic to enlarge

Flex Your Discovery Muscles

But still hanging out in the mastery world, the question remains – are there ways to improve your skill base of discovering and being curious?

I believe the answer is a resounding YES!

The thing is, like the body, our discovery muscles need to be flexed and used or they start to atrophy over time.


As a way to start “working out” then, here are nine tips to flex your discovery muscles.

1.  Become a two year old.

Even though we’re often driven to the brink of insanity after a thousand and one why’s, we truly can learn something from the insatiable curiosity of a two year old.

They set out to discover what they don’t know, allow one answer to inspire another question, and keep digging until they’re satisfied – for now.

Children also see their world and the connections between the dots from a fresh perspective, unfiltered by things we’ve assumed or taken for granted.

Flex Tip: When you encounter something you don’t know – what a word means, the background to a situation, how something works – start asking questions and follow the trail to see where they lead you.


2.  Ask different questions.

The frame of a question frames the nature of your exploration.

“Why did the accident happen to me?” steers the conversation in a different direction than say, “How did the accident happen to me?”

This “why” question invokes a search for meaning while the small switch into “how” points the question towards seeing a sequence of events.

Approaching from the opposite side with “What good things have come from the accident that happened to me?” shifts the underlying perception of the question altogether.


Flex Tip: Imagine each inquiry as a diamond with many faces to explore, and each with its own frame of question. Leverage the 5 W’s and How. Ask different questions instead of the same one over and over to open up new avenues for answers to flow.


3.  Be silly.

What does earwax sound like? Where does time land after flying? What sound do you make running across a bowl of corn flakes?

While answering nonsensical questions may feel silly, the process is like doing stretches to improve flexibility.

A few of the many benefits of being whimsical are having no correct answers to find, giving the creative side of your brain a workout and sharpening your skills at seeing old things in new ways.

If you haven’t been silly in a while, expect you won’t have questions or answers gushing forth right from the start. Your brain might even hurt. This is a good sign of stretching and will help keep your brain young!


Flex Tip:  When you come across a silly question, make time to answer. Allow inspiration to help create your own questions. Being silly with others creates an interplay of energies to really gets the juices flowing. When you’re sitting around the dinner table, have a captive audience in the car or looking to liven up a party, toss out a silly question to see who will jump in. Yes, you’re likely to get weird looks at first, but watch the game catch on!


4.  Take a different route.

Have you ever seen a nuthatch? They’ll walk down the tree trunk to catch bugs hidden from birds that only walk up the tree.

Moving in the same pattern all the time, while efficient, also has the effect of putting on blinkers or going on auto pilot.

Taking different routes to the same destination creates a bigger map of what is possible and provides alternatives when roadblocks pop up.  Great lesson for applying in all areas of our lives.


Flex Tip: Take a different route at least once a week to the store, work, and other activities. The more you change up the better. Keep expanding your map with more details. Save the familiar route for when you’re in real hurry or road conditions are bad. See how many different routes you can take through your favourite parks or on your walks.


5.  Get lost on purpose.

For some, even the mere thought of being lost is enough to cause the stomach to churn.

In practicing being lost, you purposefully place yourself in situations to recognize your reactions to not knowing, manage those reactions to keep moving forward, and grow increasingly comfortable and curious staying in the unknown.

The result is a more self-confident you. You know you can find your way through and come out okay in the end.

Instead of scrambling to grab hold for a sense of stability and groundedness, you can grab onto you.


Flex Tip: Turn off the GPS and put your maps away. When you’re out for a walk or driving somewhere, go left where you normally go right and head off into who knows where.


6.  See beyond and in between.

Imagine you’re a reporter sent on assignment in your neighborhood. You need to photograph ten things others are unlikely to identify while right under their noses.

When was the last time you really took a good look at what’s around your neighborhood? Do you ever run across something “new” only to find out later it’s been there for quite some time?

You’re wired to notice edges and change. The more things stay the same, the more you have to be purposeful in seeing what’s different and new-to-you rather than the new finding you.


Flex tip: Go for a walk to see what you haven’t seen before. Look up and down along with straight ahead. Observe what’s hidden in the branches, lining a sidewalk or sitting atop fence posts. Be the passenger instead of driving when you have the chance. Without having to pay attention to traffic all the time, you’ll be amazed how much there really is to see.


7.  Zoom in and out.

If you’ve ever played with the zoom lens on a camera, you know how different what’s before you can appear. Fish eye, wide angle and macro lenses allow you to capture the world in ways the standard lens won’t allow.

Thinking of yourself as a human zoom lens encourages shifting perspectives to more than what initially meets the eye.

A garden, tree trunk, and falling snow or rain all provide the close up look to a yard, forest or storm.


Flex tip: Find opportunities to zoom in closer for a look or zoom out to capture a wider view. Note what you do and don’t see from the other perspective.


8.  Go somewhere new.

When you find yourself looking for something to do, go somewhere new. Don’t wait for visitors to come to see all the tourist spots.

Up the ante by going to a place that has always held little interest, or seemed out of the way.

Where you haven’t been before comes with a clean slate, but possibly some baggage.

Not only do you have the opportunity to see with fresh eyes, you can practice seeing how things really look instead of how you expect them to be.


Flex tip: Make a list of places you haven’t been before to have on hand. Be purposeful to keep fresh eyes, and pay attention to how you feel. Is curiosity on the rise or a sense of uncomfortableness moving into the unknown. Save comparisons to your favourite spots for later.


9.  Argue with yourself.

You’ve likely heard some version of the old adage about walking in another person’s shoes.

Seeing through another person’s eyes expands our own perspective and invites us to look at things we might not have considered before.

The aim is to open your mind, not necessarily change it. Considering more points of view, however, will help you to know yourself more deeply and with greater clarity.


Flex tip: When you agree with a news story, explain why the other side makes sense too. Bluff if you need to and come up with what feels like insane rebuttals.  Politics is a great place to start.



Above all, have fun.

Expect hesitation or a reaction of some sort when trying something new.

Being aware of how you feel is part of the discovery process itself.

Part of being skilled at mystery is knowing there is always more to discovery and mastery is only a temporary state until the next unfolding occurs.


What are some of your favourite ways to flex your discovery muscles?



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Lorraine Watson - on rustic porch

chief nudging officer


Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.


  1. Cathy Severson on December 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    This is awesome. I work with baby boomers transitioning into retirement. One of the things I advocate is to be child like and approach retirement with a sense of mystery and discovery. This is a great model.

    • Lorraine on December 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Heading into retirement is definitely a time for discovering whole other worlds that await! What a great approach you take to help them through the transition and see with new eyes again.

  2. Vironika Tugaleva on December 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    This is great advice. I love number 5, because it’s so true. Since I’ve been following my dreams, I never really quite know where I’m going or what I’m doing …but that’s what makes it worth it. Great work, Lorraine. <3

    • Lorraine on December 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Not knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing certainly has its advantages. I love how you are dancing with your dream to see where you step next!

  3. Tanja @ Crystal Clarity on December 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Some fantastic recommendations here, Lorraine!

    I especially loved #5: I have the world’s worst sense of direction (my brother jokingly calls me “Death of Navigation”), so I’ve had to get comfortable with the idea that if I get lost, I have tools available to help me figure out where I am and where I want to be. Once I know that, getting lost can actually be quite a fun thing – it definitely helps me discover things I wouldn’t have come across otherwise 🙂



    • Lorraine on January 2, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      One advantage of being lost is having to become more aware of what’s around you, and see things that might otherwise be glossed over. One day I’ll point the car in one direction at the toss (or two) of a coin and see where I end up. There truly is so much to see and know that is good in this world we wouldn’t normally cross paths with.

  4. Rhoda on December 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for this awesome list Lorraine! I love the one about becoming a two-year-old!! I have a two-year-old and it is just inspiring to witness the joy and curiosity he carries within him.

  5. Melissa on December 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Lorraine you have such an awesome view of life! All these suggestions make perfect sense and I love how you explained why each point has great value! Thanks so much for reminding me to look at all the angles and directions in life! What a blessing you are! I hope people will try these suggestions out! It could be a game changer in the quality of their lives 😉

  6. Shan on December 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Lorraine this list is wonderful! I do a lot of the above, simply because I really, really, REALLY hate routine. (Can you tell I really hate routine?) I haven’t spent a whole heap of time in our backyard lately because there were plovers nesting there and they can get a bit aggressive, but since their chicks have hatched I’ve been spending more and more time there. We have a jacaranda tree that has flowered for the first time ever which has made me look at it with new eyes and next to it is an acacia that I planted as tubestock (that is, not much bigger than a seedling in tree form) a few years back. I’ve admired both trees from the kitchen window ever since we moved here, but I went for a walk down to them yesterday and I couldn’t believe how big they’d both grown. SUCH a difference between the macro and close up perspectives!

    One of the things I like to practice doing, particularly when fear-based thinking takes over, is sit in the unknown. It allows me to be fully present without getting worried about “what-ifs”. It’s a tip I learnt from my own coach and serves me well. Thanks for such a wonderful article!

    • Lorraine on December 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Shan, some day you might just find me knocking on your door so I can walk amongst your jacranda and acacia with you. If the plovers are as aggressive protecting their nests as our red winged blackbirds I too can watch from afar.

      Sitting in the unknown is a very powerful practice. Great one to follow up with after being comfortable being lost. Thanks for the addition!

  7. Suzie Cheel on December 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Lorraine love your list, especially be like a 2 yearold- then we have no wories and so often we forget to play have fun and be silly when the serious mode dominates
    thank you

    • Lorraine on December 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Silliness does have magical shifting powers to create space and openness when things feel stuck.

  8. Caroline Kirk on January 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for such indepth insights to flexing our discovery muscles. I am a enthusiast of the Enneagram Personality types and so am blessed to have a lot of these practices as natural ways of being, the eternal 2 year old 🙂 I ‘wow’ a lot! I don’t possess a gps and forget maps, ending up lost but in discovery quite a bit, when i travel, i never plan, its always as it comes.

    My ‘Sit beyond and in between and zoom in and out’ muscles could be flexed more so that is what I will bring with me, thanks so much. <3

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