Benefits of Being Curious
There is ample scientific and common sense evidence to support the benefits of a "curious mind."
Curious people tend to be;
Benefits in more detail
Curiosity and its' relationship with novelty helps lay down new neural pathways. New findings in neuroplasticity prove that the brain is constantly rearranging itself laying down new connections. The brain is hardwired for novelty. In an extraordinary experiment to test this a group people were blindfolded for several days. Modern technology has enabled us to map the brain very accurately, we know which bits light up when we wiggle our fingers, listen, speak etc.
The frontal lobe is primarily responsible for sight. When blindfolded the frontal lobe went quiet as expected. After a few days however something extraordinary happened, the frontal lobe started lightening up when the blindfolded people were exposed to sound! It seems that the brain got bored and went off of its own accord and engaged in other activities!
Novel experiences and the learning that follows are like yoga for the brain, they keep it flexible and agile - there is now serious research into the link between curiosity, neuroplasticity and resilience to aging illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Dementia!
Relationships & intimacy
By asking genuine, curious questions and listening deeply for understanding we develop intimacy.
My wife, a relationship counselor, recently gave me an exercise I now begin most workshops with. I pretend to have sat strangers next to one-another for a reason and tell them they have 5 minutes to find out why. What is truly amazing is that, believing there really is a reason, they engage in deep conversation immediately.
They ask lots of questions, listen intently to answers and search for commonality. Demonstrating interest in the other a relationship begins to form. In a state of curiosity all shyness, introversion and insecurity seems to evaporate and intimacy grows!
In couples that maintain high levels of intimacy, curiosity is a significant ingredient. We like being around curious people, they don't talk about themselves all the time, they engage us, seem enthusiastic, energizing and confident. Because they show an interest in us and have many interests they frequently appear interesting themselves.
Curious people tend to find more personal meaning and ensuing happiness than their less curious friends. Studies by Martin Seligman and Todd Kashdan (Authentic Happiness) have found strong links between curiosity and happiness. They found that curiosity played a more significant role in experiencing happiness than other qualities such as love, spirituality, emotional intelligence, kindness, forgiveness, perseverance and wisdom.
See the links to Todd Kashdans book, Curious? on the Cultivating Curiosity page.