We are hungry for food.
We are hungry for sensorimotor experiences, ie for perceiving the world with our senses and moving in it.
And we are hungry for comprehending the world and creating in it, ie changing it. This third type of hunger is mental hunger – curiosity.
The purpose of hunger is to let us grow. The purpose of mental hunger (curiosity) is to let us grow mentally to living our full potential as humans.
Natural mental hunger can be seen in children. Children are passionately curious and permanently explore the world. They ask the questions ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’ in uncountable many ways with all senses in order to receive answers. We call this “play.” Answers are mental food. A child whose biological needs are fulfilled and thus can explore the world in its play experiences joy, fulfillment, and a deep contentment with life because it lives its full potential.
Imagine a child named Peter. Peter is totally absorbed by his play. It is noon and a parent calls him for a meal. Peter says that he is not hungry. But he has to obey. He has to stop his play and eat.
Peter indeed is not hungry for physical food. If we passionately engage in something, we are not hungry for food. We are hungry for what we do and we feed from what we do. An image of Picasso dropping his brush and palette because his wife calls him for a meal is preposterous.
Peter must not satisfy his mental hunger with mental food. Instead, he must eat physical food although he is not physically hungry. Therefore, Peter is trained to try to use eating as a substitute channel for mental hunger. He learns to substitute-curiously explore the fridge instead of true-curiously explore the world. The problem with this is that it does not work. Physical food cannot satisfy mental hunger.
As we grow up we learn to try to use also other substitute channels for our mental hunger, which don’t work either. I described them in my (German language) book “Neugier: Der geistige Hunger des Menschen” (“Curiosity: The Mental Hunger of Humans”).
Diverting the power of mental hunger (true curiosity) into substitute channels developed as a “mental heritage” over countless generations of humans. We learned it from our parents, our children learn it from us. This heritage prevents us from living our full potential.
Since we unlearned to satisfy our natural mental hunger properly, we remain mentally hungry, ie we are permanently mentally unsatisfied. This shows as a yearning. None of what we learned as substitute methods stops this yearning. This keeps us in a loop of trying to find satisfaction. The search for happiness is one of those. In truth, we just yearn for living our full potential (see my blog post “The Other Story of the Eagle in the Chicken Coop”.) The key for living our full potential is the true passionate curiosity from our childhood.
There are only few adults who at least partly escaped the programming of the diversion of the power of mental hunger and thus could live a much greater portion of their potential. Examples are Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Nikola Tesla.
Everybody can become truly curious again as a key to live their full potential. This requires to become free from the programs that we received when we grew up.
photo by Colin Maynard on unsplash.com