Scott Shigeoka ’11 Comm.
Hachette Book Group: 2023
It was his first Trump rally, and Scott Shigeoka was there alone. Although he “intensely opposed” many of Donald Trump’s policies, he writes, “I felt electrified by the energy of the rally. It was a collective high.”
But, after speaking “in-depth to nearly a dozen people” and listening to an hour of Trump’s rhetoric, “I felt my insides shutting down. My body was viscerally reacting to what I perceived were hateful attacks.”
Three months earlier, Shigeoka had left his job in California to embark on a cross-country quest for understanding. Now he was sitting in his car in a Minnesota parking lot “on the verge of tears. I thought: Is this really the state of our country? Here I was, trying to practice curiosity, but would it actually change anything?”
It’s just one of the moments Shigeoka explores in Seek, his optimistic and inspiring ode to curiosity. Well-researched and approachable, the three-part guide offers relatable anecdotes and snippets of personal narrative along with a framework for cultivating and practicing curiosity in our daily lives—something Shigeoka argues is necessary for humanity to survive and thrive.
We’re living, he writes, in an “era of incuriosity,” and it’s “literally killing us. Longitudinal studies have found that when we have less curiosity, we chop precious time off our life span. It contributes to loneliness and isolation—which the US surgeon general Vivek Murthy has called ‘an epidemic’ because of the mass number of people affected. Incuriosity is also contributing to political polarization and social division. When we are incurious, we risk our lives and our connection to each other—and even to ourselves.”
Shigeoka invites readers to “dive beneath the surface” of shallow curiosity with his “DIVE” model.
Detach—Let go of your assumptions, biases, and certainty.
Intend—Prepare your mindset.
Value—See the dignity of every person, including yourself.
Embrace—Welcome the hard times in your life.
There are obstacles. Fear, trauma, time, and distance “can slow us down in our practice of deep curiosity,” says Shigeoka, who offers practical tools to enhance your capacity for curiosity and connect with fellow humans across what seem to be deep divides. Race. Religion. Rights. Gender identity. Age. Economic status.
Curiosity, Shigeoka writes in this hopeful handbook, “is contagious.”
He says, “The more we practice curiosity, the more others will follow our lead. And the more we surround ourselves with people who are curious, the more likely we’ll be curious too, creating a virtuous cycle.”
In that Minneapolis parking lot, he writes, “I realized that I had come to the rally with the goal of learning more about Trump voters, but what I gained was much more unexpected: The experience changed me.”
Curiosity can change you, too. “I see a bright future for a world that embraces curiosity,” Shigeoka says. “I see people who are able to alleviate their suffering in tough moments. I see stronger relationships emerging, even across lines of differences. And although it isn’t a magic wand that can fix every societal issue overnight, I see curiosity as a foundational tool to build a more just and sustainable society.”