How to Improve Curiosity and Sustain It

Curiosity

by Jayaram V

Curiosity means eagerness to know something or having an exceptional or excessive interest in knowing something. Curiosity is the main driving force in our exploration of things that we do not know or want to know. On the positive side, curiosity contributes to our knowledge and awareness. On the negative side it leads to invasion of privacy, gossip, and unnecessary interference.

Curiosity is responsible for most of our inventions, innovations and progress in various branches of knowledge. Without curiosity it is difficult to sustain our interest in learning new knowledge or acquiring new skills. Curiosity helps us to know ourselves, the world in which live, the people we meet, establish relationships with them and enjoy our lives.

Since curiosity sustains our interest in acquiring knowledge and expanding our field of awareness, it is also important to our success and happiness. It is difficult to achieve success in life without having curiosity in what we want to pursue.

In life you may not like people who ask questions frequently or those who are not easily satisfied with simple answers. However, we have to admit that the progress of the world depends greatly upon such people only. Their curiosity is the fuel that drives the wheels of our civilization. They are responsible for starting new movements and trends in every field.

It is incorrect to say that only exceptional people have curiosity. Curiosity is a common human trait, found in all humans. Whether they are rich or poor, literate or illiterate, all people have curiosity about something they like.

However, there may be individual differences among people about what arouses their curiosity. Some people are curious about what others do or say in their private time and how they live. Some are especially usually curious about the secrets of their friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and relations.

Many people are habitually drawn to gossip columns and tabloid news. They watch television, or listen to talk-shows, and radio shows. It is because of their curiosity only about people in power and position, leaders they admire, and film stars and celebrities they like. They are eager to know how they live and what they do, with whom they have affairs or how they are having fun. There is a whole industry, which thrives upon this aspect of human behavior and keeps us feeding with 24/7 news stories.

While the majority is drawn to people and their private lives, a few develop curiosity about things, knowledge, ideas and mysteries of life. They explore the unknown, the unfamiliar and the mysterious and seek answers to difficult questions, being not satisfied with what they already know.

Therefore, they challenge themselves to explore the unknown and overcome their ignorance. The world owes a great deal to them because they are responsible for many major inventions and discoveries that move the world forward on the path of progress and innovation.

Curiosity about life, our existence, the world and the universe in which we live is better than curiosity about private lives and secret affairs of people. The former elevates your thinking and vision while the latter constricts your view and degrades your character.

Curiosity is an inborn human trait. Some people put it to great use while some use it for ordinary purposes. Some use it to seek answers and find meaning in their lives and actions and expand their knowledge, while some use it to know the mundane aspects of life.

We can use curiosity to develop skills, mastery, excellence and success in our professions and areas of interest. We can use it to improve our knowledge and understanding of the world, people, and things, and even to know ourselves better by probing into our own nature. Alternatively, we can live with the "know-it-all" attitude, with our heads buried in the sand.

Can curiosity be developed and improved?

The answer is affirmative. Like any other human trait, curiosity can be developed and sustained. To do it we have to understand what sustains and increases our curiosity. For example you need an open mind, fearlessness, hunger for knowledge, creative thinking and positive mental attitude to develop curiosity. The following suggestions are useful in this regard.

1. Know your passions and dreams. You become curious when you are deeply interested in something, which incites your passions and dreams. Therefore, find out what interests you most, pursue it with dedication. As you become involved with it and drawn into it, you develop curiosity about it.

2. Keep an open and non-judgmental mind. Many people are afraid of the unknown and the unfamiliar. Therefore, they prefer staying in their comfort zone and avoiding taking risks. To cultivate curiosity, you must have an open mind, and you must be willing to explore the unknown with an adventurous spirit, take risks and accept failure as a learning experience.

3. Transcend your fears. Free yourself from the fear of criticism, negative self-talk, and the disapproval of others. People may discourage you from pursuing goals about which they have no knowledge or in which they are not interested. Therefore to pursue your curiosity, you must use your own judgment and disregard any criticism you may face in the process.

4. Develop an inclusive mind. To know about anything you must study it from various perspectives, for which you need to free your mind from preconceived notions and prejudice.

5. Practice inquisitiveness. Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek answers. As some said, there are no foolish questions, only foolish answers. Expand your knowledge and awareness by gathering information, seeking clarifications and questioning your own assumptions and beliefs. Contemplate upon the mysteries of life and the various perspective from which truth can be studied. Search for answers to those questions that intrigue you and perplex you.

6. Practice mindful observation. The more you observe things and life, the greater will be your curiosity. Many people do not observe life mindfully because they do not pay attention and do not live in the present. If you live in the present and observe carefully the happenings around you, you develop your own insight into things based upon your experience and perceptions rather than what you are told.

7. Stay positive and hopeful. A negative mind is a closed mind. It does not seek answers because it does not see opportunities or possibilities. It is not curious because it does not believe in the possibility of knowing more. If you think there is nothing else to know or no possibility of knowing, you will not pursue knowledge or experience curiosity. However, if you keep faith and hope in the possibility of knowing further and doing further, you keep your curiosity alive.

Curiosity drives our success, ambition, knowledge and awareness. Curiosity makes us inquisitive and adventurous, prompting us to to trek into unknown areas and gather information about various aspects of our live and existence. It is therefore important that we cultivate this unique quality and make use of it for our betterment, knowledge and happiness.

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Image Attribution: This image used for this essay is a partial reproduction of painting by Wilhelm Amberg which is in public domain