Ever since I remember, I’ve been an extremely curious person. I do mean extremely curious. Pain-in-the-ass curious. Even if I knew my parents would be furious that I was demolishing something to learn how it works or what its characteristics are, that never stopped me from feeding my curious mind.
I wanted to learn how to drive a car before I could even ride a small bicycle. Therefore, I nagged until I was allowed to steer the wheel in my father’s lap. I was more interested in math than toys (and later started to hate it, but that’s another story). When I got my fist computer, I reassembled it over and over again, until it got broken.
Replace the fear of unknown with curiosity.
Not to mention the fact that I was torturing myself with stupid questions like “if god is almighty can s/he create a rock so heavy that s/he can’t lift it?”. I wanted to know and understand everything. As a romantic naïve soul, I still do. Google would definitely be my best friend if it existed back then, like it is now. Oh, that might just sound like I don’t have a life, so just for the record, I do also have real friends.
Curiosity is something I nurture very carefully, even if it’s annoying from time to time, at least for other people. For example, if I meet a person who’s good at something I just ask them 1,000 questions, which sooner or later leads to a feeling of being interrogated.
But it’s also kind of fun, because conversations never get boring. And yes, I’m the one asking “just one more question” at a lecture, when everyone else is already rolling their eyes. It just happened a few days ago when I was a student in a coding class.
Other people may find it annoying from time to time, but I think that curiosity is my number one personality characteristic that helped me achieve a few successes that I had in my life so far.
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The main reason for that is because with curiosity, you can easily get engaged, commit to understanding, acquire new knowledge and deliver results (without real effort), and people see that very quickly, love it and want to be a part of it. Not many people are utterly obsessed to understand something and then use it in some productive new way. That’s probably what makes curious people so special.
Endlessly asking myself and others different questions opened many doors and opportunities to me, helped me forge many deep relationships (there is nothing more important for building a quality relationship than being genuinely interested in somebody) but even more, it makes life that more interesting and fulfilling.
So I want to talk about the reasons why I think curiosity is one of the most important values you have to develop and nurture carefully. But first, let’s look at why everybody also wants to kill your curiosity.
Everybody wants to kill your curiosity
From a young age, everybody and everything wants to kill your curiosity and creativity. At least that goes for the most of us. Parents want you to stop asking questions at some point, because they don’t know all the answers and it’s hard to keep Santa alive if you want to know everything about him.
School wants you to obey rules and memorize things more than it wants you to be really curious and open-minded. You are not yet even a teenager when you start hating books, because they are nothing but holders of boring material that you have to memorize and rewrite on tests.
It’s easy to see why curiosity must be killed in a larger system. A larger (social) system is set for masses and if you want to have a working system for a large number of people, there is no room for deviations, curiosity and individualization.
Everybody must follow strict rules or the system would stop working. That means that if you want to stay curious, you have to nurture it outside typical social systems.
Secondly, curiosity is not a piece of cake to deal with. It takes energy, dedication, intellectual effort and potential embarrassment of not knowing the answers to all questions. It forces everyone involved from a passive mental state to an active one. And our brain loves to rest and save energy. So many people and almost all social systems purposely stifle curiosity. Because it’s easier.
Curiosity pushes you from a passive to an active mental state.
If you aren’t a curious person anymore, it’s not completely your fault. At least not until you read to the end of this article. I know, that was a little bit evil.
But you simply have to be really stubborn when it comes to nurturing the right values and not giving in to social pressure. You have to be one step ahead of social systems, an average life strategy and all kinds of expectations of other people about what you should be doing.
When you find yourself stuck in a situation where your curiosity gets stifled, you have to become creative and make sure you feed your curious mind one way or another. There is always a way to nurture your curiosity, no matter how rigid and narrow-minded the people and systems around you are.
- If a system doesn’t allow you to be curious, be curious out of the system. Have many hobbies, join debate groups, spend more time in a library researching, watch MOOCs, whatever.
- If people are fed up with you constantly asking questions, find more people who are willing to share their knowledge. At the end of the day, it’s better to seek wisdom of several people than the knowledge of just one.
- If you still have questions after a lecture or a seminar, agree with the lecturer to send him or her questions by e-mail or to meet individually.
- Question everything, dig deeper, try to understand the context, origin and history of things, put them into a new perspective, brainstorm new angles, play with ideas, make ideas have sex. There are numerous ways how you can stay hungry and stay foolish.
When it comes to curiosity and many other uncommon positive values and personality traits, you must never give up or take ugly compromises to fit in with the society’s rules. You have to innovate your way out to get what you want.
If there is a strong enough will, there is always a way. Luckily today in the information age, it’s very easy to find a way to satisfy a thirsty mind – you have access to all of humanity’s knowledge and billions of people with a single click on a mouse.
You have to be a little bit rebellious if you want to nurture your curiosity and creativity.
The more curious you are, the more interesting life becomes. Below are only a few most important things why you will enjoy life much more by increasing your curiosity levels.
- You can never get bored
- People admire curiosity
- Curiosity helps you to forge deep relationships
- You become smarter
- You become more persistent
You can never ever get bored
The moment you decide to be a really curious person, boredom simply doesn’t exist anymore. You face the opposite problem instead. There are always too many things to do and to get familiar with.
When you are curious, there are so many books to read, so many different topics to study, so many items to analyze, so many people to talk to and so many different questions to ask. Wherever you go, there is always something to observe, study or experience.
Not only can you not get bored when you are curious, you constantly want to learn and experience new things. Your levels of understanding, empathy, emotional intelligence, knowledge and general competence level skyrocket.
Soon you can see how you are becoming a wiser and more interesting person. And life gets so much more exciting. The fact is that you don’t have to be extremely smart, all you have to be is curious enough. If you are bored in life, that only means you aren’t curious enough.
People admire curiosity and it can really help you build deep relationships
As I mentioned, nothing works better in forging new deep and quality relationships than showing genuine interest in somebody. It’s extremely obvious when you’re really interested in forging a connection with someone and when you aren’t.
When you are curious about someone:
- You want to know everything about them. I mean really everything. Their life story, how they achieved what they achieved, how they think, their values, what they love most in life, and numerous other things.
- You want to talk with them again and again. When you meet them you are excited about getting to know them even better, what happened to them etc. You don’t give a f*ck about notifications on your mobile phone. You are completely focused on learning about that person.
As Dale Carnegie said, you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. When you show curiosity about somebody, you get emotionally invested in them; because as we said, curiosity takes energy, time, effort and dedication.
That leads to people loving to spend time with you, you forge deep multidimensional connections, you learn many new things and perspectives, and people love to work with other people who are curious, committed, dedicated and focused. There is nothing more awesome than to work with a curious person who shows commitment in achieving a specific output.
1 in 100 people is really focused, curious and dedicated to learning more about you. That makes them really special. That’s how curiosity opens hearts.
Not to mention that by being curious about people, you gain many different life insights, perspectives and angles, you build your tolerance level and much more. So never put your ego before learning something new about a person you like.
And never have a problem with being wrong. That’s probably one of the biggest benefits of curiosity. If you are a curious person, you have no problem with being wrong and putting learning before your ego. That’s how curiosity helps you to stay tolerant, agile and continuously get better.
If you have a problem grasping the curiosity concept when interacting with other people, here are examples of questions a curious person would start asking themselves when they meet somebody different from them or somebody they dislike:
- How are we different?
- Why are we different and why are we alike?
- Why does that bother me?
- What can I learn from that person?
- How do different views lead to misunderstandings in communication?
- How are we alike?
- How can we efficiently work together, knowing our differences and similarities?
- How can I improve communication with the person?
I hope you see where the mental direction and effort are going. Now you know what to do the next time you meet somebody you can’t immediately connect with.
Becoming smarter and more persistent
Maybe you can’t increase your IQ, but you can definitely become smarter, wiser and more educated. You can train your brain to think better, you can increase your competence level, and you can train your creative and analytical mind to give you better results. All that with the help of curiosity.
If you are a curious person, you read and you learn how to read a lot, you love deep engaging debates, you go to seminars, watch online courses, documentaries, question things and try to acquire new knowledge in many different ways at every single opportunity. That means you know a lot and that you can talk about many different topics. It makes you smarter.
Knowing many different things enables you to connect hidden patterns and generate new ideas. That means curiosity leads to better creativity. You can use ideas from one field and transfer it to another, you can merge ideas from many different fields (convergence), you can more easily steal ideas from other people and make them much better, and so on.
When you are a curious being, you always want to generate and play with ideas, constantly try new things and acquire new experiences, you want to meet and talk to many different people, and that gives you a very unique advantage to be more creative, tolerant and connect patterns that other people can’t see.
You can never be overdressed, overpaid or overeducated; or too curious.
On top of that, curiosity also makes you much more persistent; because you want to get to the bottom of things. Curiosity drives you, it gives you a sense of mission, purpose and meaning.
You can much more easily learn new things, even boring things, if you are curious and with curiosity you get a memory boost (proven by science). Even Einstein said that he had no special talents, that he was only passionately curious. Not to mention that curiosity contributes greatly to better brain health.
It’s the best time in history to be a curious person
You own one of the most capable computers in your head available for use, a product of billions of years of evolution (your brain). Next to that, you have most of the knowledge ever created by humankind available only with a single click on the mouse.
Only that statement makes it obvious that it’s the best time in history to be a curious person. So here’s the question:
Why would you use your brain and the internet for browsing funny pictures of cats?
Actually, I’m not kidding. We have no idea how privileged are the times we live in. Inexpensive transport options, numerous ways to communicate and connect, free access to knowledge etc., it all makes the life of a curious person that more worthwhile. As a curious person today, you can so easily learn, connect, travel, share and create. It’s such a waste to not take advantage of it.
So stay hungry and stay foolish. If you are asking yourself how to nurture curiosity, there are only a few things you have to do:
- Ask questions and question everything
- Show genuine interest in people
- Always go for new experiences (use the search mode for it)
- Read, read, read
- Spend time with geeks. Smart is the new sexy.
- Step back and ask yourself what others are missing
- Commit to become the best in the world in one thing
- Go on an adventure
- Learn more about yourself (if you become curious about yourself, you can be curious about anything)
- Expose yourself to more uncertainty (that will lead you to natural exploration)
But probably the most you can do to nurture your curiosity is to rebuild the connection with your inner child. You were once curious, until your curiosity was systematically killed. Even though it was killed, you have the power to bring it back to life.
You just have to see that it’s not painful to be curious, it’s not wrong, other people just don’t know how to deal with extreme curiosity (but you can teach them). Now you are an adult, now you understand that, so you can bring out your curious inner child again and start playing. You can start exploring and discovering again.
More than any other kind of knowledge we fear knowledge of ourselves, knowledge that might transform our self-esteem and our self-image. – Maslow
When you awaken your curiosity, just make sure that you point it in the right direction. You want to focus your curiosity and direct it towards your goal. The second step when you become a curious being again is making sure that your curiosity is not distracting and unfocused. Checking Facebook statuses is not the right kind of curiosity.
If you don’t get lost in a flow of curiosity at least a few times per week, you are definitely not curious enough. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few ideas:
- Buy yourself a Kindle and start reading eBooks
- Find a free Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), subscribe to it and finish it
- Subscribe to educational YouTube Channels
- Download an app that enables you to learn something new every day
- Develop a new skill, knowledge domain or develop some other new competence
- Join a meet-up on a topic you’re interested in or start a new hobby
- Reframe a boring situation and find something interesting about it
Curiosity is the one important thing that makes life so much more interesting. Curiosity is what led mankind into the deepest oceans, highest mountains and even space. Curiosity is what leads to major scientific discoveries, deepest relationships and the most awesome products.
Curiosity is what will lead you to evolve as an individual and become the best version of yourself. Your curiosity is as unique as you, and it ignites your creativity, imagination and the desire for adventure and discovery. Curiosity helps you learn the most important life lessons, act out of a sense of mission and in the end, curiosity helps you develop wisdom.
So in order to live a great life, awaken the curiosity in you again and always stay hungry, always stay foolish.