This book is about curiosity. In the context of spiritual practice, we call that listening, wonder, and openness.

Scott Shigeoka starts by describing quitting his good job at a design firm in San Francisco in order to spend a year on the road living out of his car. People thought he was crazy. He was “compiling research-based strategies that could strengthen our relationships, especially across our differences.” That was in 2019, and a lot of what he discovered on that road trip became the explorations of curiosity — its importance and its relative absence in human life — that fill this, his first book.

Shigeoka teaches at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. He also consults for companies such as Pixar and Google. He describes himself as a “city-dwelling liberal Asian American spirituality queer professor and researcher from Hawaii.” His book is full of creative approaches to perennial human problems, centering always on being and becoming more curious. We believe, if readers could put into practice some of these teachings, families, communities, and workplaces would become places where polarization is replaced by listening.

Four major principles guide this deep dive into curiosity, designed for “seekers” who want more from life. These principles form the parts of the book:

“Detach — Let go of your ABCs (assumptions, biases, certainty)”

“Intend — Prepare your mindset and setting”

“Value — See the dignity of every person, including yourself”

“Embrace — Welcome the hard times in your life”

Chapters are punctuated often by exercises, to bring home the principles. Practical suggestions and questions for reflection are also abundant. This one, for example, will be useful for millions of family gatherings when relatives come together:

“When you’re about to eat dinner at a family reunion, and you sense that politics will come up and become unpleasant, you can set a commitment like you would say grace before eating: 'We all have different beliefs and views at this table, and we’re all really passionate, but would everyone agree to staying open-minded and curious about what people are sharing, instead of coming from a place of judgment or attacking?' If everyone agrees to that, remind them that they all have the power to keep each other accountable: 'If I mess up and don’t come from a place of curiosity, can someone please let me know? Also, would everyone else be open to the same level of accountability?' “

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