Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talent. I’m just passionately curious.”
Curiosity represents our desire to learn, to understand new things, and to know how they work. Curiosity helps you improve your problem-solving skills, interact better with people, and bring in exciting and innovative ideas.
Stay with me, because I’m going to share nine steps that will help you increase your curiosity through critical thinking.
I will also tell you how you can listen with an open mind and apply active learning while exploring new opportunities to boost your personal growth, your relationships, your professional career, and your business.
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This rare motivation to explore our world beyond what we need to survive has taken us to the moon, has expanded our mastery of medical science, and has given us a better understanding of our genes. And while we still don’t fully understand the origin of curiosity, several scientific studies have linked curiosity with psychological, emotional, social, and even physical and mental health benefits.
Curiosity is the innate desire that we human beings have for learning and mastering new facts, knowledge, and skills. This knowledge and skills, help us expand our minds to explore new and different outlines, points of view, and lifestyles.
Most of us were given this instinct naturally when we were children, when curiosity ran through our bodies and allowed us to explore new experiences enthusiastically. However, as we grow, this sense of novelty and exploration tends to decrease. We prefer certainty, safety, and practical choices.
But it is when we become adults that our brains develop enough to process discoveries into concrete ideas and strategies. We need to observe, explore, ask questions, and again venture into the unknown.
However, the dark side of curiosity can lead us astray, to meddle in people’s personal lives, to spend too much time on social media, and to watch the news that is full of violent content. Curiosity, when it is misdirected, can even encourage us to engage in inappropriate or dangerous situations that may put our lives at risk.
Because of that, in this program, we are going to focus on the benefits of curiosity, applied in a positive, intentional way. And I want to encourage you to connect it to your ideals, principles, and values. In this way, you will be able to use your curiosity to develop the knowledge and the skills that will allow you to improve your life and accomplish your goals.
Increasing your curiosity is a crucial element to discover new opportunities in your professional life. Curiosity will allow you to successfully perform in any job because by asking the right questions, you have a better chance of meeting expectations about your activities. Also, by challenging mediocre and inefficient processes, you will have the opportunity to explore and suggest improvements, which will lead you to outstand in any work environment.
Companies are increasingly taking into account curiosity traits when hiring. Gone are the days when discreet and obedient workers who will not question indications were required. Now, an employee who doesn’t ask enough questions is more likely to make mistakes by not clearly understanding what is being asked or by not visualizing the full picture of the project in which he is involved.
Also, if you’re the kind of person who likes to explore new topics and learn, you’re most likely very good at using your creativity to solve problems that help improve the company’s processes and systems.
But why is curiosity so important?
Curiosity allows your mind to be active rather than passive: which makes it eager to know and understand. This quality enables you to develop your creativity, learn more quickly, and stay attentive to new ideas and possibilities.
When curious people fail, they have an exceptional ability to analyze their mistakes. Their mind is eager to know the reasons that led them to fail so that they can learn from them and perform better the next time; which increases their chances of success.
Several scientific studies have revealed that curiosity leads to higher enjoyment and participation in school and more significant academic success, as well as to better learning, commitment, and performance at work. It may sound like common sense, but when we are more curious and interested in what we are doing, it is easier to commit, work hard, and do it well.
But curiosity can help you move forward in your personal life as well. It has been shown that curiosity is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, higher satisfaction in life, and greater psychological well-being.
Curiosity protects you from boredom and keeps your mind sharp, alert, and in good shape. By learning new things, finding proven solutions to your problems, getting inspiration from the books you read or podcasts you listen to, and having hobbies that help you keep the flame of curiosity alive, you’ll be more successful and happier.
2. Keep an open mind.
A child’s mind is curious because it is naturally eager to learn and open to new ideas. It is not tied to biases or prior information. We, as adults, also have the option of approaching the situations we face daily with a fresh mentality. Strive to see things as if you are seeing them for the first time. Set aside the ideas you take for granted and continuously ask questions.
In certain societies, people are taught to be afraid to ask certain questions, as they may shake their beliefs and their faith. This fear of finding answers and seeking the truth causes many people to lack openness to new discoveries, ideas, and opinions. Besides, having a closed mind makes us more judgmental and less tolerant of those who don’t share our views and opinions. Have you noticed how often we tend to judge people rather than having a genuine curiosity about who they really are? We draw conclusions, even before giving ourselves the opportunity to listen to them, to know them, and to understand them.
It is true that you will not always agree with everyone who goes through your life, but it’s a good idea that you give yourself a chance to understand the other person’s point of view. People behave the way they do and have certain beliefs because of their education and environment. Try to understand where they come from.
For example, if a new foreign person moves into your neighborhood, you may not understand their culture or habits at first. They might dress differently, speak a language you don’t understand, and eat food you don’t eat. Still, this is an excellent opportunity to practice your curiosity. Talk to him respectfully. Find out how he lives, learn about his culture, make an effort to understand and appreciate his manners. You may find that you have more in common with him than you think.
You can also read a book about a topic you don’t agree with. This choice is the best way to develop compassion and understanding for others who do not necessarily agree with your beliefs and opinions. Gathering as much information as possible before you form an opinion about something or someone will help you keep an open mind.
There are many ways to learn about other cultures and subjects; you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks, watch videos, go to museums, galleries; make trips, be friendly and meet people outside of your social circle.
Writer and journalist Malcolm Gladwell said: “It is your responsibility as a human being to update your views constantly. If you don’t contradict yourself from time to time, maybe you’re not thinking.”
3. Enjoy the feeling of learning.
Studying is an unpleasant task for some people. Some students put off preparing for an exam until the last minute and stay up all night the day before the exam. And some people that call themselves “professionals” avoid updating their knowledge and educating themselves to keep up with the new discoveries and technology recently added to their careers. However, if you train yourself to enjoy the learning process, you will open your mind to a world full of opportunities, not only at school and work but in life.
Those who genuinely enjoy learning new things can explore new hobbies, accelerate their careers, and develop more confidence and satisfaction in both their professional and their family lives.
Curiosity makes learning a more effective and enjoyable process. We can see this in most young children who are full of interest and enjoy learning new things every day. Curious minds ask questions and actively seek answers.
A neurological study conducted by researchers at the University of California in 2014 has shown that curiosity makes our brains more receptive to learning and promo us to enjoy more the feeling of learning new things.
In this study, a series of experiments were conducted to discover what happens in the brain when our curiosity is stimulated. For the study, the researchers had the participants rate their curiosity to know the answers to more than 100 trivial questions, such as “What was the Beatles’ song that lasted the longest on the hit lists, 19 weeks?” or “What does the term ‘dinosaur’ really mean?”
The researchers found out that once the participants’ curiosity was aroused using the right question, they were able to learn and remember better, even unrelated information. Curiosity puts our brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any information, as well as making learning a more rewarding experience.
When participants’ curiosity was aroused, not only increased activity was detected in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain involved in creating memories, but also in the ventral tegmental area, related to reward and pleasure. This area is the same one that is activated when we enjoy ice cream or chocolate. Therefore, arousing curiosity will not only help you remember lessons that would otherwise enter one ear to exit the other but it can also make the learning experience as pleasant as eating ice cream or chocolate.
So how can you enjoy more the learning process?
Arouse your curiosity about some subject that you naturally want to learn about. Find a way to create a connection between what you are learning and what you like. Fostering these connections will help you cultivate greater interest in obtaining knowledge. And you will be better prepared to discover things that you would normally find boring or difficult.
4. Use active learning.
According to a learning styles study, students learn more when they actively participate in the learning process. Active learning involves discussion, practice, review, or application. This kind of education includes solving problems and exploring new concepts, individually or in groups.
Active learning stimulates cognitive and sensory networks in the brain, which helps process and store new information.
These kind of activities involve students in deep rather than superficial learning and allow them to apply and transfer knowledge better.
How can you implement active learning?
Build your lab with experimental tools, like your sandbox to play or try new things; enjoy the mistakes and failures. Play as you learn, experiment, sketch, paint, draw random ideas. You can also try to create your own music, videos, photos, or inventions. Disassemble things to find out how they work and reassemble them.
Imagine how it would improve your motivation for new knowledge if you drew a mind map with colorful drawings where you include each of the subjects you want to learn. As you immerse yourself in each topic, you can mark and color it, as if it were a map of the territories you have conquered in your journey for knowledge.
5. Ask questions, listen, and observe.
Conformity is the enemy of curiosity. We don’t have to adjust to social pressure or the expectations of others.
Curiosity involves continuously asking questions and looking for answers, which includes testing assumptions and convictions to explore unusual solutions.
Don’t let shyness or fear keep you from asking questions. Ask questions even when you think you know everything you need to know.
What kind of questions should you ask?
Questions that allow you to probe for valuable and comprehensive information, rather than simple answers.
Ask questions that lead you to more questions rather than yes or no answers. For example, what else do I need to know? How does this relate to the above?
Also, ask questions that help you expand a conversation constructively, rather than blaming or complaining. For example, how can we solve this? What do you suggest? What are the alternatives?
Show your genuine desire to be open to other points of view. When asking questions, take the time and attention necessary to listen actively. During a conversation, you can ask the other person to share more about themselves, their ideas, and their opinions. Listen to their point of view, even during heated discussions. Instead of being defensive, listen to what they want to say, observe their body language, and strive to understand.
What is it? Why is it done that way? When was it done? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does the system work? Why, when, who, where, and how, are the words that will help you expand your curiosity.
Ask questions to learn about other people’s opinions, perspectives, and approaches. Everyone does things a little differently, and there are new answers and potential solutions to problems hidden in other people’s minds. Deepening and understanding the context will help you discover the origin and history of everything around you.
Don’t take things for granted. Do not accept the world as it is. Observe and try to dig deeper beneath the surface of your surroundings, and you will discover a more fulfilled life, full of adventures and surprises.
6. Try something new or different.
One of the most common enemies of curiosity is fear because we risk failing when we venture into new territories. Curiosity is an impulse that takes us out of our comfort zone, and fear is like an agent that keeps us within our safe limits.
But remember that successful people have learned to see mistakes as learning experiences. We live in the digital age, where learning has become accessible to almost everyone. Nowadays, knowledge is very affordable or even free. If you search on Youtube, you can find comprehensive tutorials on how to use computer programs, specific apps, or advanced technology. Also, many academic websites offer free classes, and some platforms offer professionally produced courses at university level for a low cost.
And if you are busy, there are mobile applications that you can use to read or listen to book summaries, podcasts or audiobooks, that provide tons of knowledge and information. You can visit our website TopPersonalGrowth.com, where you will find more practical topics you can watch, read or listen in your way to work.
Making some changes to help you get out of your routine and add variety to your life is also recommended. You can start by going to a museum to explore paintings and sculptures of great artists. You can explore a new route to drive to work. You can try a new dish, explore a place in your city that you haven’t visited, or explore a new city. When possible, take the opportunity to travel and expand your knowledge about other countries and cultures.
Try to learn a different skill or develop a new hobby. Have you ever taken a cooking or dancing class? Is there a hobby you’d like to try?
It is a good idea to combine different hobbies related to different areas, such as some practical knowledge, some art, a hobby related to music and some sport suitable for you.
It is also an excellent idea to learn a new language, as it gives you new opportunities to expand your projects, your work, your business, and your culture in general. Besides, “se ha realizado bastante investigación sobre los beneficios de aprender y hablar varios idiomas. Las personas que aprenden a hablar un idioma extranjero tienen un incremento significativo en sus habilidades cognitivas, así como una mayor memoria y concentración, que aquellos que sólo hablan su idioma nativo.”
Remember than you can find this and all our other topics in Spanish also. Just go to CrecimientoPersonalPractico.com
You can also learn public speaking, join a debate group, or spend time in the library researching exciting topics. Be aware of changes, new events, and anything unusual or unknown that happens around you.
Become an observer and learner; explore information from other disciplines. Learn from experts, entrepreneurs, business leaders, celebrities, athletes, and others who are improving the world.
Take a few hours a week to learn something new and open your mind to new ideas, interests, experiences, and adventures. You may be surprised to discover how far your curiosity can take you. You may also find something new about yourself.
7. Use curiosity to generate empathy.
Develop the ability to understand those with different lives, experiences, and views. You can create empathy by listening with attention, respect, and interest to what the other person has to share. Try to have conversations with the persons around you on a more personal level.
This kind of curiosity and empathy will help you strengthen your relationships. One study asked a group of strangers to elaborate and answer personal questions to each other; a process scientists call “self-disclosure reciprocity.” In this experiment, they found out that persons were considered friendlier and more attractive if they showed real curiosity in this exchange of personal information. This finding means that showing genuine interest in someone is a great way to build rapport with that person.
As adults, we tend to label things, situations, and people. But what if you practice being open to other points of view, valuing differences of opinion and listening even when you disagree.
Avoid preconceptions, prejudice, stereotypes, and anticipatory judgments. Challenge yourself to have real conversations with friends and strangers. Connect with them on a more meaningful level. Build multicultural relationships, develop empathy, compassion, and tolerance, while exploring different perspectives on life.
Strive to understand others by asking questions that allow you to assimilate their history and circumstances. For example, “How did you feel when that happened?” “What led you to behave in that way?” “What is the lesson you have obtained from that situation?”
When interacting with someone, try to keep the attention on the other person, rather than on yourself, to understand what is important to them. This way, you can build deep and quality relationships, showing a sincere and genuine interest in the people around you.
8. Combine general and specific curiosity.
General curiosity leads us to enjoy learning about a wide variety of novel and independent subjects. On the other hand, specific curiosity allows us to explore more in-depth into some particular knowledge.
Combined, both types of curiosity are useful. Specific curiosity can help you solve a particular puzzle or find out precisely how a complicated machine works. But if you narrow your attention too much, you might miss the opportunity to think outside the box, find less obvious solutions, and connect seemingly unrelated concepts to produce more original ideas.
Also, when you’re learning something new, it’s recommended that you define the goal you’re pursuing and find a purpose. Ask yourself: How is this knowledge useful to me? You might need to set aside information that is not related to your long-term goals, so you can incorporate strategies and ideas that are practical and allow you to move forward.
9. Develop critical thinking and creativity.
When you need to find a solution or come up with a new idea using your creativity, you must take the time to explore the situation and gather all the necessary information. Listen carefully and strive to understand what is said, what you read, and what you observe. By doing this, you will have at hand resources, practical information, and useful strategies for the area in which you are looking for innovation.
But having the right information is not enough. You also need to use critical thinking to develop a proper understanding of the context, the problem, and possible solutions.
When you have spent enough time analyzing the situation at hand, you may come up with surprising ideas in unexpected ways. These creative experiences sometimes happen while you’re in the shower, when you’re on vacation, or when you’re taking a relaxing walk. When you take a break, your subconscious mind can find solutions to the problems you’ve been thinking about without causing you more stress.
Try to create a balance between the creativity you are developing and a sense of realism and well-supported honesty, while you keep connected to the present moment. This measure of reality will allow you to set a firm terrain on which you can build in the long term. This ability to balance critical thinking and creativity should not stop you from imagining and finding unusual solutions to problems. A person who combines realism and creativity usually refers to himself as a realistic optimist.
You can develop critical thinking and creativity if you practice enough. Just commit to being a lifelong student. Learn from each of your experiences and use those learnings to help you think more strategically.
Get involved in activities that stimulate your curiosity. Read a book, attend events, travel, hike, or explore the outdoors. Meditate so you can see what’s in your mind. Keep a journal so you can clear out irrelevant thoughts and free up some free space that fosters the production of creative problem-solving ideas.
Also, remember that a leader does not need to know everything. Our world is continuously changing, and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. But as an authentic leader, you have to be curious, cultivate the art of listening carefully, and ask the right questions. Curiosity leads to humility. Humble people know that they don’t need to have all the answers if they continuously keep learning.
I encourage you to be the scientist in your own life. Be an inquisitive child, develop an open mind, and exercise your ability to wonder. If you cultivate your curiosity and create a love for learning, you will change your life, you will improve your environment, and you will have the power to transform the world.
https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/2016/nov/curiosity-can-predict-employees%E2%80%99-ability-creatively-solve-problems-research-shows https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691611421204 https://books.google.com.mx/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6IyqCNBD6oIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA367&dq=study+benefits+health+social+psychological+curiosity&ots=IMJ6ND_gsB&sig=YplA13MJ0vHI4JuGd5e4zk8cyXE#v=onepage&q=study%20benefits%20health%20social%20psychological%20curiosity&f=false https://hbr.org/2018/09/curiosity https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233180171_Curiosity_and_well-being https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(14)00804-6 https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/writingacrossthecurriculum/2015/10/15/the-neuroscience-of-active-learning/ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019188691630900X
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