The Curiosity Habit (How To Discover Interesting)

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The world we live in is an incredibly interesting place. I was fortunate enough to visit Italy a few years ago and I remember the satisfying experience of being able to walk down any alley in Rome and finding something new to explore. I felt grateful to take part in the Human journey.

Our daily lives can feel a little less interesting and a bit routine:

  • Wake up
  • Shower
  • Eat
  • Work
  • Socialize
  • Sleep

Day-in and day-out. If we could enter a state of curiosity at any time we might begin notice the interesting things in the mundane. For example:

  • just an hour before we wake up, our body temperature begins to rise, our brains are flooded with chemicals like norepinephrine, acetylcholine and serotonin that wake us up and keep us alert. It’s is an incredibly complex process.
  • Have you ever stopped and considered that when you turn on the shower, miles and miles of plumbing must work together to provide you with water? Every soap, conditioner, and skin cleanser is a different product with ingredients sourced from different places and marketed by different companies (unless you use a 3-in-one).
  • What we eat provides nutrients and the fuel necessary to carry us through the day.
  • Where we work, most likely, is a complex network of roles and responsibilities working together to accomplish a single goal where each department has its own set of skills, its own systems and processes that have been created through years of trial and error. If you work for a successful company, the odds of it ever being successful were always stacked against it!
  • Each of our family members and friends that we socialize with have separate lives, thoughts, interests and desires that are heavily influenced by the way we interact with them.
  • There are pages and pages written about the wonderful and rejuvenating process of sleep, and where our minds journey during sleep.

What if we could put on our ‘Curious Hats’ on all the time? What if every day felt a bit like walking down an ancient cobbled alley in Rome? I’ve recently began challenging myself to be more curious more often. I look at curiosity as an important habit that has the ability to fuel personal development and happiness . If you’re curious, I’d like to share some advice from modern psychology, business, and personal experience about how to  engage in a more curious life.

Read Voraciously

Voracious, Adjective – wanting or devouring great quantities of food

I love this word – Just saying it is satisfying. Vor-a-cious. Pronouncing it makes you bear your teeth. The curious read everything: Signs, posters, shampoo bottles, books on chemistry, history, pop-culture, sci-fi, journals, magazines – anything that may pique their interest. For many people their is a gap between what interests them, and what they learn – the curious constantly try to close this gap with reading. Psychologist and sociologist B.F Skinner recommended that “When you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.” Don’t feel intimidated by the amounts of knowledge or literature available for a certain subject – starting anywhere is good enough. Skinner also mentions that “The feeling of being interested can act as a kind of neurological signal, directing us to fruitful areas of inquiry.” Starting the process of reading lends itself to interest in reading. I’ve sometimes come across a book I’ve been interested in and thought someday, I would like to read that. When that happens, just open up and start reading – even for five minutes. It may lead you down a completely new path.

Don’t Worry About Messing Up

No one is as critical of you as you are. One of the biggest road blocks to curiosity is the fear of getting something wrong. Curiosity means asking questions and making some assumption. More often than not, your assumptions will be wrong. Don’t worry about it! It is not so much about getting the right answer as it is moving towards answers. In a scientific journal titled The Psychology of Neuroscience and Curiosity, the author notes that curiosity has a tendency to build upon itself by ‘Information Tradeoffs’ where the subject utilizes “probabilistic elements” to  “explore other possibilities, leading them to better overall choices” (Kidd). In short, curiosity builds on itself.

Be Mindful

Take action in your actions. The next time you are performing a task try to think critically and purposefully about what you are doing. Is there a better way to do it? Why is it done this way? If you had to teach someone else to do what you are doing, could you? As you start to pay more attention to your own actions, you’ll also be able to think critically and empathetically about the actions of others. When you open your mind to being mindful curiosity will come naturally.

Sources:

The Psychology and Neuroscience of Curiosity
Kidd, Celeste et al.
Neuron , Volume 88 , Issue 3 , 449 – 460

Wai, Jonathan. Seven Ways to Be More Curious.Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-the-next-einstein/201407/seven-ways-be-more-curious

https://www.tuck.com/waking-up/

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