Benefits of Being Curious

There is ample scientific and common sense evidence to support the benefits of a "curious mind."

Quick View

Curious people tend to be;

  • Open minded, objective and optimistic yet balanced with doubt and scepticism, they resist leaping to assumptions and are better able to think for themselves
  • Persistent and resilient, more tolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty (less stressed)
  • Adaptable and humble (they recognise learning can only come from accepting they don’t already know)
  • Intrinsically interested in people, they ask genuine questions, listen sincerely for understanding and, as a consequence, develop strong relationships
  • Actively seeking and exploring novel situations - excellent learners who are more likely to look for patterns, persist with challenges and derive joy from learning for learning’s sake
  • Aware, with their senses alert they notice details and opportunities. They have active minds and dispositions and seek to understand themselves
  • Creative and innovative they embrace problems as puzzles to solve and have an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Inquisitive, engaged and naturally adept at questioning they focus on getting to the root cause of issues
  • Enthusiastic in taking up change they take initiative to explore and understand their world
  • More flexibile and mental agile-more resilient to aging illnesses like dementia

 

Benefits in more detail

Health

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.

Happiness

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.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 


Curious icon