The official definition of curiosity is ‘a strong desire to know or learn something’. To me, it means understanding something, seeking out knowledge and revelling in the new experience that brings. I’ve been thinking recently how curiosity has shown up in my life.
I didn’t love school or even really learning (in a formal setting at least), but I’ve always been curious about people and what makes them tick. I took psychology A-level, considered courses in counselling and anthropology, and finally found my place as a writer and coach.
All writers, I think, have a tendency towards curiosity. Research is part of the job – you have to understand what you’re writing about, even if it’s fiction. We’re curious about language, how sentences can be pieced together, what new words we can introduce. We explore lives totally different from our own from the safety of our desks by creating a character.
And, as I discovered in my research for this blog, curiosity is important.
Being curious helps us stay alive, encouraging us to explore and understand our constantly changing environment. It makes us happier too – when we encounter new things, dopamine is produced and research has linked curiosity to higher levels of positive emotions.
Being curious and interested in other people also, unsurprisingly, improves relationships and our capacity to empathise. So, in a nutshell – being interested in the world around us and the people in it makes us more content with life.
As easy as that may sound on the surface, I’m sure many of us can relate to feeling wholly uninterested in the world. Whether we’re having a bad day or struggling with mental illness, being curious isn’t always that easy a thing to cultivate.
So I thought outlining some ways to create a more curious mindset here could be helpful. Maybe try setting yourself a challenge to have a month of curiosity where you try everything on the list and see how it makes you feel. If you do, please do let me know how you get on.
Ask more questions
Probably a little obvious, but being more inquisitive really does open the door to curiosity. If someone tells you they like a certain film/food/activity, ask them why. Find out the story that lead them to their decision. If someone at work is asking you to do something, ask questions about it – what’s the goal? What will it achieve?
Ask yourself more questions too. Get curious about your mind, your thoughts, your feelings. How are you really doing right now? What would make you feel better? What do you need right now?
Go deeper in everyday conversation
This ties in with the above and is about taking conversations a little deeper. It’s easy to get lost in superficial small talk, “How are you doing?”, “Yeah good thanks, you?”, “Yeah I’m all good”. Try giving conversations some weight, if it feels good to you. Phrase things differently, ask someone how they’re feeling, what they’re excited about rather than the standard ‘How are you?’.
When talking to someone, listen intentionally. Don’t wait for your turn to talk. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say and avoid multitasking if you can, focus on them.
Learn a new skill
One of the best ways to fuel curiosity is to learn something completely new. This could be a skill that will benefit your work, or a skill that will benefit your soul. Follow what interests you and see where it leads.
One of my favourite pastimes and something I feel is mandatory for writers. Sitting somewhere and watching people walk by can be surprisingly enlightening. I like to imagine where they might be going, how their day’s going and what makes them get out of bed in the morning.
Sometimes these little stories I make up end up on paper. People watching also offers us a chance to get out of our own heads for a bit. A welcome reminder that in the grand scheme of things, our lives are merely dots, sat next to millions of other dots.
Research something you’re interested in (with no end-goal)
Is there a topic or subject in your life that you’re really interested in, but you’ve never given yourself the space to explore it? So often we don’t allow ourselves the freedom to research without an end goal. We feel like we have to have a ‘reason’ behind it.
Try researching something purely for the joy of researching. You’ll never know when it might come in handy down the line.
I hope these ideas have sparked a little curiosity and I would love to hear from you if you make a conscious effort to be curious every day, let me know in the comments.
I think my curiosity around people is a huge reason why I became a coach. I’m interested in people’s stories, their realities and how I can help them navigate things getting in the way of their happiness. The more I work in this industry, the more curious I am.
Next week’s blog is going to be about a short-cut I’ve discovered to feeling calm and serene, so do check back next Sunday if that sounds like something you could do with. And remember, my Growth Spurt email challenge kicks off on the 5th of August – there are lots of journaling prompts, resources and exercises, so do subscribe, should your curiosity lead you in that direction 😉
Until next time, have a lovely week filled with curiosity, learning and joy.
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