Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat, Darling. Boredom did!
Every now and then something captures our interest and makes us want to know more. We are fascinated, inquisitive, and determined to learn everything about it. This strong desire to know and learn about something is the very definition of curiosity. While we all recognize this desire within ourselves, up until a short time ago not many recognized the power curiosity has to literally transform our lives.
There has been a lot published recently about the benefits of a curious mind. Books, articles, research papers have been written on this topic which explore not only the mental benefits but also the physical benefits (as in a healthier life) of being curious. There have been studies conducted which show that when doctors take an interest in their patients, asking them questions about their lives (not related to their treatment or illness) that these patients make better decisions and respond better to treatment. From a psychological standpoint, curiosity encourages positive emotions. In learning something new like playing the piano for instance, or learning about a different culture or people living in another part of the world a person gains a feeling of achievement or satisfaction. This newly acquired skill or knowledge in turn boosts self-esteem and results in a happier mental state. Not to mention that learning anything new stimulates brain activity, which research has shown helps us stave off diseases such as Alzheimer’s as we age.
If you think about it, curiosity is necessary for our survival. It is responsible for the inventions that have allowed us to evolve and move forward, and the breakthroughs that cure diseases and keep us alive. If not for curiosity, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. When you stop to reflect on this, it’s obvious just how powerful curiosity is. Yet we take this power for granted every day. How many times does something capture your attention and then the phone will ring, or something else requires more immediate attention and you get sidetracked? How many times do you say “I’ll look into this later” or “I’ll reach out to her tomorrow” — and never do? Now think of the potential discovery, connection, or opportunity that you may have missed. Curiosity helps us develop strong relationships. By taking an interest in others we show that we are empathetic and open learning about what is important to them. This fosters open communication which builds trust and connection, and improves relationships overall. In turn, we live happier and healthier lives because of it. There is plenty of medical research which highlights a correlation between strong social connections and good health, even a longer lifespan.
Curiosity can also open new doors for you in your professional life. Being inquisitive can lead you down a path of discovery that can open a door to a new job, or completely different career path. It was my curiosity about the benefits of volunteerism and charitable giving that led me to research how I could incorporate these things into my company’s culture. It was a desire to bring such a program into my company that led me to reach out to other corporations and inquire about how they started their corporate giving program. It was that interest in exploring the possibilities for charitable giving that led me to propose a corporate giving program to my executive leadership, which led to not only the creation of a program but the creation of a corporate community relations department — which I was asked to helm. It took me out of the department and role that I was in, and started me on a new career in Human Resources. A decade later that program has evolved and was expanded to include of all our locations, globally. It has also led me to write my first book on the topic of charitable giving (stay tuned for more details on the book and its release!) and embark on another new path, as an author.
Below are links to some of my favorite books, sites, and a few articles you might enjoy. Stay curious!
Saving the best for last — I give you the ultimate site for the truly curious. You will be HOOKED! (I am)
Originally published at agivingculture.typepad.com on March 21, 2016.