Curiosity is the desire to learn and explore something just for the sake of learning and exploring it.
There are many theories as to what influences humans to experience curiosity.
One theory is the “curiosity-drive model.” We often seek a coherent map of reality, so when we discover an “information gap” in our map, we are driven to learn new information to close that gap. We tend to prefer certainty over uncertainty.
Another theory is the “optimal arousal model.” Curiosity can provide us with a certain amount of pleasure and arousal. When we’re always around familiar environments and stimuli, we usually get bored and dull quickly. Curiosity motivates us to seek new experiences and new sensations.
At the end of the day, the more new information we have, the better we can adapt to our environment. So it makes sense that humans would evolve to experience curiosity in a variety of ways.
Humans like to understand things and how the world works. Curiosity is ultimately the pull that motivates us to learn and explore new things. And in many ways, every step in human progress – every discovery and every invention – first began from a spark of curiosity.
In an interesting study it was found that individuals who had high levels of curiosity also had much better academic performance in school than those with low curiosity.
Curiosity had a strong influence even when compared to intelligence and hard work, leading researcher Sophie von Stumm to call it the “third pillar of academic achievement.”
She also goes on to say how curiosity translates into jobs and professional life:
“It’s easy to hire someone who has the done the job before and hence, knows how to work the role, but it’s far more interesting and rewarding to identify those people who have the greatest potential for development, i.e. the curious ones.”
In another study it was found that curiosity actively influences personal growth opportunities. The more curious people are, the more open-minded they will be to new opportunities and new choices in life.
The influential psychologist William James saw curiosity as the opposite of fear. Both are responses to “uncertainty” in the world. But while fear inhibits us from exploring our environment and taking new risks, curiosity motivates us to explore it more and take those new risks.
In this way, curiosity can be a type of disinfectant toward fear. While fear motivates us to move away, curiosity motivates us to move toward. With enough curiosity, you can override any fear.
The same study also found that curiosity is a good thing for friendships and romantic relationships. The more we are interested in someone, the more we want to get to know them. By becoming more curious about the people in our daily lives, we create a deeper level of understanding and intimacy.
It’s clear that curiosity can have many advantages in different areas of our lives. Many of the most successful people throughout history were also those who were incredibly curious about life. They had hungry minds with a never-ending appetite for learning, experimentation, and growth.
Do you have a hungry mind? Here are ways to improve your curiosity.
How to improve curiosity in your daily life
- Seek more questions than answers. – Questions give us new avenues to explore in life, while answers are often dead-ends. For every new thing you learn, ask yourself a new question to go with it.
- Get a taste for a new subject. – Try learning a bit in a subject you know nothing about. Check out a book, article, video, or blog. Give yourself a small taste of a new area in life, and it will often increase your appetite for more.
- Ask someone for a random recommendation. – Ask a friend, family member, coworker, or stranger to recommend you a new movie, band, restaurant, book, or hobby to check out. Other people can often steer you in directions you may never otherwise go in.
- Cultivate a sense of beginner’s mind. – Try approaching an old activity or situation as if you were experiencing it for the very first time. Learn more about how to cultivate beginner’s mind here.
- Satisfy your need for exploration. – As humans, we have a need to explore new things. Satisfy that need by traveling and visiting new places. Put yourself in new environments and new situations, so you don’t get too familiar or bored of the same old places.
- Be awed by the vastness of life. – For everything we know, there is a lot more that we don’t know. Looking up at the stars and realizing that fact can itself be mind-blowing. Learn the wisdom of ignorance by accepting all the things you don’t know or understand.
These are great suggestions to follow to help improve your own curiosity toward life. Be more open and willing to try new things, and you’ll often find life has a lot more to offer than you realize.
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