“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”Albert Einstein
It’s what led Alice down the rabbit hole and what fuelled Einstein to make his biggest discoveries. It’s even what NASA named one of their Mars Rovers. Curiosity has a lot to answer for, but what are the benefits of being curious and how can we be more curious?
Curiosity is a desire to learn. It’s our eagerness to explore, discover, and figure things out. We’re all born curious. You only have to watch a child play to see curiosity in action. This built-in desire to explore the unknown is how we learn to understand the world around us.
The benefits of curiosity are not just intellectual. For all of us, regardless of age, curiosity has powerful psychological, emotional, social, and even health benefits. Let’s have a look at a few…
1. Curiosity makes us better problem solvers
When our curiosity is triggered, we tend to think on a deeper and more rational level about decisions, which allows us to come up with more creative solutions. Curiosity is the key to using our imagination and thinking ‘outside the box’.
To practice: Challenge ‘we’ve always done it this way’ thinking.
2. Curiosity makes us better decision makers
The more knowledge we gain as a result of being curious, the more resources and information we have to utilise when we need to think more critically about a problem or make an important decision.
To practice: Ask ‘why’ and ‘what if’ to challenge your ways of thinking.
3. Curiosity makes us better learners
When we question the reasons and methods behind things by asking “why?” and “how?”, we are pushed out of our comfort zone and prompted to examine alternate viewpoints, expanding our understanding beyond our own perspective.
To practise: Use questions and feedback as opportunities to learn.
4. Curiosity makes us better at creating inclusive environments
Curiosity encourages us to think beyond what we see on the surface. In fact, research suggests that when our curiosity is triggered, we’re less likely to fall prey to things like confirmation bias and stereotyping, which create more positive and inclusive work cultures.
To practise: Try to catch and challenge your stereotypes when you are faced with them.
5. Curiosity makes us better leaders and employees
Being curious about other people’s ideas, goals, and ways of working can broaden our networks. The more comfortable we become asking questions, the easier it becomes to build and nurture relationships. This is not only beneficial to us individually, but it
’s also benefits the organisations we’re a part of.
To practise: Get in the habit of asking insightful questions.
6. Curious people are happier
Research shows curiosity to be associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, and greater psychological well-being. Furthermore, the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to pleasure, indicates that curiosity may also contribute to increasing our happiness when we come across new experiences. However, it’s important to note that many other factors can influence our happiness, and curiosity is just one of them.
To practise: Seek out new experiences and learning opportunities and approach them with an open mindset.
To wrap things up…
Curiosity is a natural human trait that can offer significant benefits in many areas of our lives. From being better problem-solvers and decision-makers to creating inclusive environments and building relationships, curiosity can improve our psychological, emotional, social, and even health well-being.
By challenging our biases, questioning our assumptions, and seeking new experiences with an open mind, we can develop our curiosity and reap its rewards.