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Curiosity – did it kill the cat?

Curiosity certainly did not kill the cat. In fact curiosity is the engine of achievement and one of the secrets to happiness. It was Albert Einstein who said that he had only one talent, that he was passionately curious.

Curiosity did not kill the cat

In fact the cure for boredom is curiosity. How curious are you?

In a world that values having the answers, how much space is left for curiosity? Being curious has often got us into serious trouble, like glancing at that message that you should not have seen (you all know what I mean) about when she was meeting John, and your mind went wild with images appearing as if from thin air. The drama you caused.

John was in fact the new hair stylist. Now that was a valuable lesson in curiosity killing that cat. The end result being that we stifle our curiosity. Lesson learnt.

In reality, however, curiosity keeps us engaged in life. It makes us smarter. Asking questions for which we don’t pretend to have all the answers encourages us to be open to new possibilities. It generates a level of excitement that “knowing” does not come close to competing with. Yet, we value certainty far more than we value a curious question. Safety becomes our proverbial prison, the place in which you are surrounded by familiarity, not asking too many questions since some may not like the answers. Boredom sets in and strangles the life out of your living and a midlife crisis gets blamed. In reality, it may merely be a lack of genuine curiosity.

Curiosity should always come from the right place, the right intention e.g. to understand, to learn or know more about someone or something.

Einstein stated that it is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

In terms of your brain, the hunger for knowledge is much the same as the body’s hunger for food. Most of us starve our hungry brains, offering almost no new information as time goes by and slowly our anorexic neurons whittle away, one by one, following the neural plasticity principle of use it or lose it. Of course we blame age for that.

The human trait of curiosity is universal in children. It is, however, far less common in adults, and even more difficult to discover in the workplace (Harvard Business Review). Why is this? We stop asking questions because having the answer is rewarded, valued and acknowledged. Asking too many questions can be dangerous, career-limiting and frowned upon, yet it is in the question, in the curiosity, that unexpected possibilities are hidden.

Why remain curious?

Curiosity, a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something or someone, creates and openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy and delight. Curiosity transforms everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences.

At its core, curiosity is about finding novelty and meaning in everyday experiences. It improves our well-being and enhances the quality of our lives in the following areas:

  • Health
  • Intelligence (building healthy, strong neural activity)
  • Social relationships (collaboration and engagement)
  • Happiness
  • Meaning

When last were you genuinely curious about your child, your partner or your employees ? How much of what you believe you know about them remains accurate?

When last did you truly notice them in a way that solicited your interest? Curiosity requires you to “see” with a different set of lenses, it requires you to be present, in the moment and willing to surrender all you think you know and you take for granted, in exchange for the possibility of discovering a new truth about something or someone.

The future of curiosity

Not only is curiosity essential for your happiness, your learning and providing a sense of meaning and purpose, it is also, cat or not, becoming an increasingly sought after skill to have since it enables critical thinking, problem solving, agility and learning. These are all key skills as identified by the WEF (Work Economic Forum) as essential skills for the future.

Encourage curiosity, ask questions, be open to what may emerge, what may open up, and be excited about the new possibilities that are born from a curious mind.

“The future belongs to the curious – the ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out”.



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