Merriam Webster defines curiosity as a desire to know, an inquisitive interest in others’ concerns, an interest leading to inquiry and intellectual curiosity.
Curiosity is the desire to learn, to understand new things, and to know how they work. As children, we are naturally curious, born with the impulse to seek new information and experiences. As we age and gain more experience, we become less reliant on curiosity for answers and more reliant on knowledge. Curiosity gives way to comfort and certainty. Curiosity can be seen manifesting itself in geniuses, because they are inherently always curious, leading to the discoveries attributed to them. Curiosity is not only important for those with high IQs, but successful people across all walks of life often display a good measure of curiosity. Curiosity is the expression of the urge to learn and acquire facts and knowledge. It widens the mind and opens it to different opinions, different lifestyles and different topics.
Curiosity can manifest in many ways, as the desire to read the gossip columns or watch reality shows on TV, or as the desire to know about people and their lives. It can also manifest as the desire to accumulate knowledge about science, geography or other topics, or as the urge to know how to fix things. Curious people ask questions, read and explore. They are active about seeking information or experience, and are willing to meet challenges and to broaden their horizons. They are not shy to ask questions and delve deeply into the topic that interests them.
Curiosity throughout adulthood requires approaching experiences with the open-mindedness and naivete of a child. Buddhists call this the Beginner’s Mind. Curiosity pushes people toward uncertainty and allows them to approach it with a positive attitude. Empathy, creativity, innovation, and the ability to learn quickly all spring from curiosity. Curiosity lacks an agenda or desire to drive a specific outcome, which means it can open you up to experiences you never thought were possible. This is how ground-breaking discoveries are made, markets are disrupted, and barriers are overcome.
While curiosity comes naturally to some, many adults must develop it, and just like any other skill or habit, it takes practice. According to experts, to live a curiosity-driven life, an individual must commit to being vigilant about looking for what’s piquing their curiosity and to follow what is interesting to a person, even if that interest is faint at first. Curiosity is not only linked to success because it leads to creativity and discoveries, it also helps to develop meaningful relationships that enrich personal and professional lives. When curiosity leads conversations, it opens up possibilities, letting people establish deeper, more meaningful relationships because the interactions then moves towards discovering others, rather than using them to fulfil an agenda.
But why is curiosity so important? Here are some reasons
Curiosity makes your mind active instead of passive. Curious people always ask questions and search for answers. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle that becomes stronger through continual exercise, mental exercise caused by curiosity makes the mind stronger and stronger.
Curiosity makes the mind observant of new ideas. When an individual is curious about something, their mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to the subject. When the ideas come they will recognise them and without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of them and yet they miss them because their mind is not prepared to recognise them.
Curiosity opens up new worlds and possibilities. By being curious, an individual will be able to see new worlds and possibilities that are normally not visible, which are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover them.
Curiosity brings excitement to life. The lives of curious people are far from boring and are neither dull nor routine with new things always on the horizon that attracts the curious person’s attention. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life. Curiosity is important for excelling in any job and doing it better because it allows an individual to ask questions, learn from others, and look for ways to do their job better. The minds of curious people are active, they want to know and to understand which puts them in a better position to learn a job and do it better and more creatively, unlike a person who lacks curiosity. When curious people fail, they analyse their failure, because they are keen on knowing the reasons, to do better the next time, increasing future successes.
So how do we build this muscle?
Keep an open mind: An open mind is essential to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and one should be prepared to accept this possibility and change their minds.
Don’t take things at face value: If one just accepts the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, they will certainly lose the holy curiosity. Never take things at face value and try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around them.
Ask questions relentlessly: A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions. The five Ws and one H of Who, Why, When, What, Where and How are the best friends of curious people.
Don’t label something as boring: Whenever one labels something as boring, they close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.
See learning as something fun: If one sees learning as a burden, there’s no way they will want to dig deeper into anything, and will just make the burden heavier. But if they think of learning as something fun, they will naturally want to dig deeper. So the lesson here is to look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process.
Have diversity in your reading: Don’t spend too much time in just one world; take a look at other worlds, it will introduce an individual to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark their interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is by reading diverse genres and topics. The easiest way to do this is to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed the mind with the excitement of a new world.
Be Present: Don’t enter a conversation with the mind somewhere else or be focused on where you want the conversation to go. Be aware of thoughts drifting, and bring them back to the present, staying fully engaged with the person in front of you. Look at each interaction as an opportunity to learn something fascinating.
Give: Give others your full attention, give them an authenticity and give them time. When one shifts their focus from what they can get from a person to what they can give them, their relationship shifts from transactional to genuine.
Check Your Ego: A person’s ego can destroy curiosity because it fears insecurity. Curiosity requires embracing and exploring the unknown, which triggers insecurity. Don’t worry about how others will react to a person. Curiosity drives one to discover, not impress.
I will leave you to search more about this immensely interesting subject and allow you to flex your curiosity muscle with these TED Talks.