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  • Writer's pictureMatt Peake

Aren't you just a little curious?

Imagine a world where we just accepted, without question, everything around us. A world without the joy of discovery. A world without progress. A world without creation.

Curiosity has been positioned by Martin Seligman (one of the pioneers of Positive Psychology and well-being theory) as one of the 24 inherent character strengths of humans and a key ingredient to promoting mental energy, well-being and happiness.

Being curious keeps our minds active and agile, allows us to notice and develop new ideas, creates options and possibilities, and invites novelty and excitement into our lives.

“Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures” (Anon)

Types of curiosity

Curiosity can take different forms. At its most basic level, it can be cognitive (the desire for new information and solutions) or sensory (the desire for new sensations and experiences), and there is much more research that expands on this by considering curiosity motivation. But let’s keep it simple for now…

What type of curiosity-seeker are you?

10 tips on how to boost your curiosity

1. Connect with others

We all have different experiences, opinions and perspectives. Sharing these opens up new avenues of thought and knowledge. Whether you are being subjected to the uninhibited and imaginative ramblings of a toddler or the wisdom and reverie of an esteemed professor, curiosity thrives on a diverse diet of input and stimulus.

“It is good to rub and polish your mind against that of others” (Michel de Montaigne)

2. Stay open-minded

Don’t take things at face value – scrutinize, challenge, compare, connect the dots between facts, ideas and observations. Be willing to consider a range of possibilities and give yourself the freedom to fantasize.

“If you can dream it, you can do it” (Walt Disney)

3. Ask questions

Curiosity is not a spectator sport – you have to participate and the best way to do this is to ask questions. Children are experts at this and instinctively know that the way to build an understanding of the world around them is to relentlessly ask why, what, who, when, where and how (often in the same sentence).

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question” (Eugene Ionesco)

4. Make mistakes

Mistakes are part of the learning process; they are how we gain experience. But mistakes can also lead us down new pathways if we are open-minded and vigilant. Microwave ovens, Post-It notes, safety matches, fireworks, saccharin (artificial sweetener), pacemakers, crisps, champagne – just some of the everyday items that were discovered as a result of mistakes.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery" (James Joyce)

5. Read widely

Consume knowledge, ideas and facts – these will become the fuel for your curiosity and allow you create connections between concepts and develop new ideas. Follow your interests passionately, and also venture into new realms and explore fiction, non-fiction, biographies, newspapers, travel, history, science – there really is no limit.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (Dr. Seuss)

6. Explore the unknown

Find joy in investigating mysteries rather than solving puzzles – there is a difference! Solving puzzles involves the application of knowledge and technique to reach a known and definite solution. Investigating mysteries means exploring possibilities, finding new challenges, testing hypotheses, and often pioneering into uncharted territory.

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand” (Neil Armstrong)

7. Be vigilant

Notice what’s going on around you. Look up from your phone or laptop and be present in the moment. Be aware of your surroundings and allow your mind to notice details and raise questions. Take a minute to appreciate the wonder of existence.

“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

8. Engage your senses

Your primary senses are beautifully connected, so use all of them to feed your curiosity. Don’t limit yourself to a one-dimensional approach to discovery, but consciously consider how something looks, how it smells, how it feels to touch, what is sounds like and (where appropriate) how it tastes. Imagine walking through a garden in full bloom, but only being able to see the vibrant colours of the plants – think how much you would be missing out on!

“The five senses are the ministers of the soul” (Leonardo da Vinci)

9. Wander (and wonder) with intent

Be purposeful about your curiosity – immerse and absorb, but don’t think that you need to stick to a plan. Curiosity is the journey not the destination, and there are so many sights to see on that journey. Allow yourself to be continually amazed and fall in love with learning and growing.

“Kick-start your brain. New ideas come from watching something, talking to people, experimenting, asking questions and getting out of the office!” (Steve Jobs)

Wondering what the tenth one is? Good – you’re more curious already!

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