Dr. Leanh Nguyen on the Importance of Curiosity

What makes us human? How do we reveal ourselves to one another? How do we capture one another’s humanity? Dr. Leanh Nguyen aims to answer these questions in her latest podcast series “On Living: The Trauma and Beauty of Being Human”. Exploring how curiosity can create closer human connections, and allow us to feel full as individuals, she made her case for human connection by questioning the forces behind curiosity, friendship, and psychotherapy.

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The Importance of Curiosity

Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that perhaps the most important attitude towards life and one another is curiosity. Dr. Leanh Nguyen was born in war-torn Vietnam, escaped to Europe as a refugee of Communism, and then emigrated to the United States for her higher education. She brings to her work all that this range of life experiences have taught her. When she moved to America, she had to maintain a degree of curiosity about her new environment and those that lived within it and has been a pillar for how she conducts her practice as a psychotherapist. This dedication has taken her from acute-care psychiatric wards, to community health clinics, to refugee camps and detention centers. But what is curiosity and how can it be useful in our lives?

Curiosity Begets Learning

Curiosity is a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something, which allows you to embrace unfamiliar circumstances, giving you greater opportunity to experience and discover joy. Curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement, and studies show that those who are more curious about a topic tend to learn faster. Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that curiosity is something we all value in our loved ones. If they are curious about your life, they show more empathy, offer advice, and try to keep things fresh. There is a study conducted by the University of Buffalo that concluded that the degree to which people are curious directly relates to personal growth opportunities that are available to them.

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Curiosity Brings People Together

Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that a question invites another person into your humanity, and by answering it, you are altered through this contact. We habitually refuse these natural means of connection when we say ‘no’, and disengage any potential for connection with others through boundary setting, privacy, etc. Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that when you do hear ‘no’, or a refusal to answer a question, it can be disconcerting to receive that negation of the natural human connective tissue. The instinctive act of making meaning as the result of engaging with another human being through a real conversation is crucial to the health of ourselves as individuals and as a society.

So how do we embrace curiosity in our lives and in our relationships? Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that we should always ask questions. It is not only okay not to know something, it might be better, as only then will you be able to learn something new. Admitting that you don’t know something is the first step to improving yourself getting to understand others on a deeper level.

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