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Although leaders might say they value inquisitive minds, in reality most stifle curiosity, fearing it will increase risk and inefficiency. Psychologists have come to realize that curiosity is not a monolithic trait. Kashdan, David J. Disabato, and Fallon R.


Health 2.

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Intelligence 3. Social Relationships 4.

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Happiness 5. What do you want most in life? Happiness is a good thing. Have these new opportunities allowed us to spend more time doing what we care about most, thus increasing our satisfaction and meaning in life? For most of us, the answer is no. The majority of Americans spend less than 20 percent of each day doing what could be termed very engaging, enjoyable and meaningful activities such as talking with close friends, bonding with loved onescreating, playing, or pursuing a spiritual practice. One of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity.

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Curiosity is something that can be nurtured and developed. With practice, we can harness the power of curiosity to transform everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences.

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We can also use curiosity to intentionally create wonder, intrigue and play out of almost any situation or interaction we encounter. Curiosity, at its core, is all about noticing and being drawn to things we find interesting.

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When we are curious, we see things differently; we use our powers of observation more fully. We sense what is happening in the present moment, taking note of what is, regardless of what it looked like before or what we might have expected it to be. We feel alive and engaged, more capable of embracing opportunities, making connections, and experiencing moments of insight and meaning — all of which provide the foundation for a rich, aware and satisfying life experience.

5 benefits of curiosity

Here are five of the important ways that curiosity enhances our well-being and the quality of our lives:. In a study published in Psychology and Agingmore than 1, older adults aged 60 to 86 were carefully observed over a five-year period, and researchers found that those who were rated as being more curious at the beginning of the study were more likely to be alive at its conclusion, even after taking into age, whether they smoked, the presence of cancer or cardiovascular disease, and so on.

It is possible that declining curiosity is an initial of neurological illness and declining health. Nonetheless, there are promising s that enhancing curiosity reduces the risk for these diseases and may even reverse some of the natural degeneration that occurs in older adults.

A report in the journal Health Psychology described a two-year study involving more than 1, patients that found higher levels of curiosity were also associated with a decreased likelihood of developing hypertension and diabetes.

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While correlation does not imply causation, these relationships suggest that curiosity may have a variety of positive connections with health that deserve further study. Studies have shown that curiosity positively correlates with intelligence. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology inresearchers correctly predicted that high novelty-seeking or highly curious toddlers would have higher IQs as older children than toddlers with lower levels of curiosity.

Researchers measured the degree of novelty-seeking behavior in 1, 3-year-olds and then measured their cognitive ability at age As predicted, the year-olds who had been highly curious 3-year-olds later scored 12 points higher on total IQ compared with low stimulation seekers.

They also had superior scholastic and reading ability.

Why curious people make better employees

Other studies have shown that high levels of curiosity in adults are connected to greater analytic ability, problem-solving skills and overall intelligence. All of which suggests that cultivating more curiosity in your daily life is likely to make you smarter. It is far easier to form and maintain satisfying, ificant relationships when you demonstrate an attitude of openness and genuine interest. This often sparks resentment, hostility, communication breakdowns and a lack of interest in spending time together only adding to the initial problem. Curious people report more satisfying relationships and marriages.

The business case for curiosity

Happy couples describe their partners as interested and responsive. Curious people are inclined to act in ways that allow relationships to develop more easily. We also interviewed their closest friends and parents to gain added insight into the qualities that curious people bring to relationships. Each of these groups — acquaintances of a mere five minutes, close friends and parents — characterized curious people as highly enthusiastic and energetic, talkative, interesting in what they say and do, displaying a wide range of interests, confident, humorous, less likely to express insecurities, and lacking in timidity and anxiety compared with less curious people.

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Curious people ask questions and take an interest in learning about partners, and they intentionally try to keep interactions interesting engaging and playful. This approach supports the development of good relationships. Both factors are supported by curiosity. In fact, in one of the largest undertakings in the field of psychology, two pioneers in the field of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, PhD, and Chris Peterson, PhD, devised a scientific classification of the basic human strengths.

This system was the end result of reading the works of ancient philosophers, religious texts and contemporary literature, then identifying patterns, and finally subjecting these ideas to rigorous scientific tests.

Tune in to your curiosity

Their research eventually recognized 24 basic strengths. And, of those 24 strengths that human beings can possess, curiosity was one of the five most highly associated with overall life fulfillment and happiness.

There are other important relationships between curiosity and happiness. In his book Stumbling on HappinessHarvard University psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, PhD, shows that, while we think we know what will make us happy in the future, we are actually less likely to find joy as a result of a planned pursuit than by simply stumbling upon it.

It follows that by cultivating curiosity and remaining open to new experiences, we increase our likelihood of encountering those surprising and satisfying activities. If we are going to find a meaningful purpose or calling in lifechances are good we will find it in something that unleashes our natural curiosity and fascination.

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While being passionate about something naturally renders you curious to know as much as you can about it, it also works the other way around: The more curiosity you can muster for something, the more likely you are to notice and learn about it, and thus the more interesting and meaningful it will become for you over time.

This is true of people, books, sports, skills and conversations. Often, the more curiosity and energy we invest in exploring and understanding them, the more compelling they become. This has important implications for how much meaning and passion we experience in life : The greater the range and depth of our curiosity, the more opportunities we have to experience things that inspire and excite us, from minute details to momentous occasions.

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One of the best ways to better appreciate the power of curiosity is to start exercising it more consciously in your daily experiences. By doing so, you can transform routine tasks, enlivening them with new energy. You will also likely begin to notice more situations that have the potential to engage you, giving your curiosity even more opportunities to flourish. When a marine biologist goes snorkeling and is able to name specific fishes by the size, color, texture, and shape of eyes and fins, he or she is going to be acutely aware of the unusual features that the rest of us will miss — a pattern of orange stripes that are vertical when they are usually horizontal.

If you want to be curious, start accumulating knowledge. We rarely look forward to anxiety and tension, but research shows that these mixed emotions are often what lead to the most intense and longest-lasting positive experiences. People who take part in new and uncertain activities are happier and find more meaning in their lives than people who rely on the familiar. Most of us mistakenly believe that certainty will make us happier than uncertainty. Imagine that you go to a football game knowing that your team will win. Most people would say that, yes, that would make them happy.

Yet knowing the outcome in advance takes away the thrill of watching each play and the good tension that comes with not knowing what will happen next.

5 benefits of curiosity

We forget about the pleasures of surprise and uncertainty. Remind yourself of the pleasures of surprise by thinking back to the last five positive events in your life that began with an uncertain, unknown outcome. Think of sporting events, first dates, job interviews and so on. You will likely be surprised to find how big a role surprise plays in your joyful experiences. We can add play and playfulness to almost any task, and the attitude of play naturally builds interest and curiosity.

This dynamic was captured wonderfully in a National Public Radio story about an assembly-line worker in a potato chip factory whose job was to make sure that the chips rolling down the conveyor belt were uniform and aesthetically pleasing before being bagged. This man found the job dreary. So he developed a game that made it more interesting: He searched for potato chips resembling famous people and kept a collection imagine silhouettes of Elvis, Charles Manson, Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix. Because he was constantly scanning odd and bizarre shapes for celebrity resemblances, the day moved quickly.

He also became incredibly efficient at catching misshapen chips. The goal of discovering the unfamiliar in the familiar is to suspend judgments and attend to how things are, not how you expect them to be.

The business case for curiosity

In a recent study, researchers asked people to do something they reported disliking and pay attention to three novel features when they did it. This small exercise altered the way they viewed and felt about the activity. For example, an year-old male bodybuilder who scoffed at crocheting spent 90 minutes practicing the task. When the study subjects were contacted weeks later, those individuals who were asked to search for the novel and unfamiliar in their laboratory task were more likely to have done the task on their own without being asked or prompted though it is unknown if the bodybuilder continued crocheting.

A window of opportunity and willingness opened for these participants that had been ly closed off by their preconceived ideas.

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This same little experiment can be applied to any activity in your life. Consider the list of low-interest, but necessary, activities in your typical day. Choose one of these ho-hum activities and, as you do it, search for any three novel or unexpected things about it. Also keep in mind that, even though recurring situations may look identical on the surface, any event — especially one involving people — has some degree of novelty each time it occurs.

Why curious people make better employees

Research suggests that experiencing novelty is an important factor in both health and happiness. Here are some easy ways to begin expanding your own curiosity capacity:.

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Start by devoting five minutes each day to your curiosity practice. After a week, add a little more time to your training — while cooking, eating, cleaning, bathing, paying bills, sitting on your porch and so on. Our innate curiosity can easily become dulled by the tedium and familiarity of daily routine.

Here are some tips for shifting our attention and boosting curiosity. How often have you been at a cocktail party at which no one asks you a single question about yourself? Make it a goal to find out something new about the people you know. Or call up friends or colleagues and ask them 20 questions about their lives, interests, families or jobs. Spend a day actively looking at your life through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before. For instance, go to the tourism bureau in your city, gather the maps and lists of attractions they give to newcomers, and take a tour.

Then go visit the street with a camera in hand and photograph something you find beautiful. Be curious about yourself. What are your values and motivations? What makes you tick?

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An award-winning team of journalists, deers, and videographers who tell brand stories through Fast Company's distinctive lens.


Curiosity isn't reserved for childhood.


But we usually do our best, understanding that curiosity is key to learning.


An award-winning team of journalists, deers, and videographers who tell brand stories through Fast Company's distinctive lens.