Curiosity is the name for a totally natural drive to learn something new or to find out about something. It is sometimes considered a bad character trait, with people being termed “nosey” because they are curious about other people’s doings. Curiosity may also have killed the cat, but on balance, being curious is a good thing to be and to continue to be throughout life: it keeps us engaged in life and keeps our brains active.
Researchers have defined the curiosity quotient (CQ) as how “hungry” your mind is to be inquisitive, to learn something new or to be open to having new experiences. Those with high CQ quickly get bored with the routine stuff and enjoy new experiences, always preferring the new over the tried and true, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Curiosity is also a key component in lifelong learning. Natural curiosity is a trait that should be encouraged, and if you feel you have lost yours over the years, it can be brought back to life again!
Rekindle Your Curiosity
Here are some ways to cultivate your curiosity which can lead to a love of learning new things for the rest of your life.
Ask questions and remain a learner. Sometimes, as we get older we think we should already have all the answers, especially when a young person is asking us about something. But thinking this way could keep us from acquiring new knowledge and skills and even from changing our attitudes and learned preferences. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t worry about asking what might seem simple questions, after all, everyone has to start somewhere.
Wait Before Coming To A Judgement
Have you ever noticed that if you are having a conversation with someone and you disagree with something they have said, you tune out everything else they say until you get a chance to reply? Instead of listening to what they are saying (and meaning) you are thinking about your response. We all do it. But if you want to cultivate your curiosity, it’s important to actually LISTEN to what the other person is saying. Try being fully present when in conversation and use non-verbal noises to keep them talking like “uh huh” and “hmm mm” and encouragement phrases like “go on”. Just listening to what the person has to say will bring up natural opportunities to ask questions and learn from them, when they have finished what they wanted to say.
Avoid focusing on the past. Sometimes we want to do something, but if we have had a negative experience with something similar, we avoid learning about it for fear of failure or looking silly. Of course, we want to learn from past mistakes but watch out for those times when past experiences make you feel worried or want to resist the urge to try something new, assuming that it will have the same outcome as the last time.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Move outside your comfort zone. The comfort zone is where you feel comfortable, not too hot, not too cold, not too taxing, not too easy. It often feels safer to just learn more about something you are already really good at. But it can be hard to stay curious that way. Try learning about something new, something you know nothing about. It doesn’t matter what it is. Psychological studies prove that the more we know about a topic, the more we want to know. So do some initial research on a subject you’ve always wondered about. A quick Google search is likely to start a whole new interest. This is how lifelong learning is born.
Make it Fun
Make learning a game. Games motivate people. They are fun and naturally cultivate curiosity, motivation and determination. When playing a game, we are often willing to try over and over to master something, without fear of failure. Making learning something new into a game can be an easy way to learn without feeling like you are learning. and without fearing failure.
Use a journal to develop your curiosity
You can use a bullet journal or a diary and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a physical journal or online. Asking yourself a question each day and answering it can help you develop your curiosity. Good questions to ask and answer are:
- What did I learn new today?
- How did I come to learn it?
- What do I plan to do with this new learning?
- What new thing would I like to learn tomorrow, next week, next month?
You could also try asking
- what is difficult about this new learning?
- What is easy and where might I struggle with this?
- Which of my values are affected by this new learning, for good or bad?
These questions could also help you develop your empathy quotient, by considering your own feelings, those of others and how your own learning may affect others for better or worse.
Try cultivating YOUR curiosity and see where it takes you!