We are born full of wonder and curiosity, but most of us grow less so with time. In most school environments, we are rewarded for right answers rather than probing questions, knowing vs. learning, and being right over being curious. Then we get jobs that pay us for our knowledge and experience. Ultimately busy lives encourage us to look for pat solutions and routinized ways. Is that so bad, we ask? What’s so great about curiosity, anyway? Turns out, a few things.
- Asking a variety of new and different questions curiously and with an open mind allows us to find new solutions to problems that are better than the tried and true or status quo.
- Curiosity enhances and builds better interpersonal relationships. Genuine curiosity about another person builds good will and keeps relationships of all kinds fresh, interesting and rewarding.
- Curiosity provides new and different experiences, and as the old adage goes, variety is the spice of life.
- It might also result in a healthier life. Keeping your mind stimulated is said to potentially protect against dementia in later years.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “I’d like some of that, please,” there’s good news. Curiosity is a like muscle that can be strengthened. Here are a few suggestions for developing and maintaining a beneficial level of curiosity:
- Ask yourself regularly “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”
- Do something different every day – break a routine (have a different beverage in the morning, take a different route, wear something you don’t usually wear, read news from a source with a view that opposes your own and instead of looking for where it’s wrong, look for where it’s right, etc.) with the intention of seeing what impact might have
- Keep a curiosity journal and track where you employ curiosity each day
- Ask lots of open ended questions (what, when, where, why, how), with curiosity and an intention to learn — and listen to the answers
- Ask new and different questions every day
- In problem solving, make a list of what you don’t know that might be helpful in solving the problem if you did
- Be willing to be wrong
- Make a habit of asking, “What if?” often
How do you stay curious? Let us know by leaving a comment below.