“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” – William Arthur Ward
When we’re infants, every single thing we come into contact with simply amazes us. Which makes perfect sense, because the world is an immense treasure chest, endlessly full of knowledge and beauty, and when we’re so young, we’ve essentially experienced none of it.
For a lot of us, over time, that amazing curiosity begins to wane as we settle into adulthood. As we rack up more and more experiences, we reach the point where, stubbornly, we might think we know it all. So we stop asking questions.
But times change—as do people and technology. Simply put, the smartest people—well, those who think they’re the smartest people—cannot maintain their intellectual superiority (perceived or otherwise) if they withdraw from being students of life.
By channeling your inner child and embracing that enviable, insanely curious young mind you once had, your life will be more rewarding—it’s really as easy as that. With that in mind, here are five reasons you should consider doing your best to be as curious as you can be:
Curious people are healthier
Those who are curious maintain active minds. Understanding that the knowledge of the world is truly endless, these kinds of people consistently strive to challenge themselves and continue learning.
Not surprisingly, science tells us that folks who are curious are healthier. According to a recent study conducted over a five-year period on 60- to 86-year-olds, individuals who were deemed to be “curious” at the beginning were more likely to be alive when the research wrapped up—regardless of age, whether they were sick or even if they smoked.
There’s also research that says older people who regularly try to conquer crossword puzzles are less likely to get Alzheimer’s. The takeaway? When you’re curious, your mind is almost constantly active. Using it often keeps you alive longer.
They develop better bonds with colleagues
Lots of people will tell you, that over their careers, they’ve had at least one coworker they couldn’t stand. Which is understandable; such is life.
But of those people you couldn’t stand: How well did you get to know them? How many times did you ask them whether they had a good weekend? How much do you know about their stories?
Curious folk are naturally inclined to ask a lot of questions.
They are active thinkers
Curious people never settle. Instead, they’re always discussing and questioning every topic that’s on the table. In fact, to understand things more fully, curious individuals rarely ask yes-or-no questions. They prefer to talk about things in a more open nature.
An easy example: When you ask someone something like “did you have a good day,” chances are they’ll respond with a variation of what follows:
- “Yeah, it was okay.”
- “Eh, it was alright.”
- “It was absolutely awful.”
On the other hand, if you ask them about what happened over the course of their day, you might get the following responses:
- “It was okay. My job really makes me want to kill myself, but my coworker Xander told me this super sweet joke, which totally made up for it.”
- “It was alright. When you clean toilets for a living, after a while, nothing surprises you anymore. But you have to work to put food on the table.”
- “It was awful. My boss literally handcuffed me to my desk—I’m not using the word ‘literally’ like most people use it—because I left 10 minutes early the previous day, so she says. Luckily I had my phone in my pocket. I called 911 then spent six hours at the station being interviewed and pressing charges. It was the worst fucking day of my life.”
To sum: When you ask questions, you understand things better. And you begin to think about things differently.
Curious people can admit when they’re wrong
Those who aren’t curious accept things as they are, which means they rarely if ever question their own beliefs or their own thoughts.
On the other hand, curious individuals are more receptive to their colleagues’ thoughts; they empathize with where everyone is coming from. Writes Nicola Slingsby:
Having worked with a number of high profile leaders and thinkers, I can attest to the fact that one of the core skills or attributes of powerful and healthy leaders who grow healthy and successful teams is their inherent curiosity.
These leaders are open to listening, to empathising, and to cultivating new ways of looking at certain things, and new ways of approaching difficult problems. They avoid taking a rigid and dogmatic stance, and are able to adopt a more fluid and organic way of running teams and managing people.
The more curious you are, the more self-aware you’ll be. That makes it easier for you to admit when you’re wrong. You’ll make better decisions as a result.
Curiosity begets happiness
The curious mind is one that’s excited to uncover the secrets of the unknown. As such, curious folks are enraptured and amazed by lots of things they stumble across over the course of the day.
Believe it or not, being curious awakens your mind. Once you head down the rabbit hole, so to speak, you’ll want to keep exploring. Completely in awe of the world and all that it has to offer, you’ll be happier.