Here’s Why Curiosity May Make You Happier & More Successful!
What’s your impression of unusually curious people? Geeky, bookwormish, freaky? Or adventurous, inquisitive and fun loving? Whatever term you’ve previously used to associate them with, the results of a study by Dr Todd Kashdan of George Mason University is likely to change that.
Todd asked a group of students their response to statements such as “When I am actively interested in something, it takes a great deal to interrupt me” and concluded that highly curious people scored greater levels of life satisfaction than their less interested counterparts. While the latter obtained more satisfaction from sex and drinking, curious people seemingly possessed an elevated sense of purpose in life.
As a result, not only are curious people generally happier, they’re naturally equipped to be more successful in life as well!
“What? You mean to imply, that geeky bespectacled guy who always ask a lot of questions during our science class is actually happier and will be more successful than me?”
Well, theoretically, it’s a yes.
Why Is This So?
Let’s illustrate using an example.
A curious lad is recently fascinated with golf and joins a beginner golf class where he gets to know a bunch of like minded friends. He reads golf magazines and books, surf golf related websites, watch major golf tournaments to help him understand the rules of the game and how different equipment or magnitude of the swing will affect the effectiveness of his play.
As his knowledge expands and gets deployed into his golf lessons, he began to review his performance and evaluate how he can be better in the game. He practices whenever he has the opportunity, testing and improvising the different techniques taught by his coach and picked up from whatever he has read or watched.
Due to his relentless efforts and many hours of practice, he became one of the best students in the class. Soon, he starts to ask himself “Hmm…what is it like playing against Tiger Woods?”
I know I can go on and on but I guess you get what I mean.
Curious people have strong seeking spirits which make them naturals when it comes to self motivation. They’ll go all out just to find the answers to their wildest questions and more often than not, what they take home are so satisfying that they keep coming back for more. As a result of their fulfilling experiences, they tend to be happier and more satisfied than others. Such experiences also hone their characters, embedding them with the DNAs we often see in successful people.
In the case of the curious lad in our illustration, because of his fascination with golf, he
Steps Out of The Comfort Zone
… and challenge himself to learning something new. He doesn’t let the fact that he know nuts about golf stop him from picking up and even excelling in the sport. He constantly keeps his eyes on his goal and doesn’t give up easily. At least not until he has found the answers to most of his questions.
Develops A Healthier Self Image
… of himself. As he constantly picks up, tests and improvises the techniques, his confidence of his own capability grows as he becomes better with the game. Eventually, not only does he gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise in it, the adrenaline derives from being the best in his golf class is enough to motivate him to consider a loftier goal. Like pitting against Tiger Woods in a world class tournament.
Builds A Bigger Social Network
… by getting to know and perhaps go out with a bunch of friends who are as interested as he is in the game. Who knows if any of these friendships can develop into something bigger? Like business collaborations or soul mate relationships? What’s more important is, the more socially active a person is, the higher the likelihood of him going through different experiences in life. And that’s what makes life enriching. Isn’t it?
Perhaps you may be thinking “Nah, your illustration is just hypothetical. There’s no such person in real life.”
What about Bill Gates, who wanted to see if personal computers can operate on a common operating system? And Steve Jobs who desired to know if he can come up with a computer that has better typography? Or Mark Zuckerberg who was eager to know how Harvard freshmen like himself could learn more about their schools and connect with others in the same campus?
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that without their curious and inquisitive minds, we wouldn’t have the Microsoft, Apple & the Macintosh or Facebook.com. Following their curiosity mind not only gave these 3 technopreneurs immense satisfaction, it also lead to new opportunities that they may never have considered.
For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.com grew so popular that he has received requests to open up to other Ivy Leagues and even work networks like McDonald’s, Time Inc and the US Marine Corps. He even received buy over offers from Yahoo of US$1 billion and potential investment deals of US$300 to US$500 million from Microsoft.
Not bad for a moment’s curiosity, eh?
How to Increase Your Curiosity Quotient
What if you’re someone who can’t imagine yourself trying out new things such as picking up Salsa dancing or changing the way you’ve been doing certain things? Does it mean you’re doomed for failure in life? The good news is, even though being unusually curious is indeed a trait you either possess or don’t, curiosity can be cultivated by learning to work with what you have. Here are some tips :
Focus on the Process, Not the “Bad” Outcome
One of the show stoppers of curiosity is the fear of failure. “What if I tried Salsa dancing and couldn’t pick it up no matter how hard I practice? It’ll be so embarrassing!”, “What if I get penalized for trying to do things differently? I can’t afford to lose my job”. Tendency is, when you’re asking these questions, you’re focusing too much on the outcome. And a bad outcome, at that. If I were you, I’ll just go along with the flow and enjoy the process! If it turns out well, good! Otherwise, I’ll have yet another experience to share with someone who’s probably going through the same thing.
Reframe Boring Events
If you’re waiting in line to pay for your grocery, try turning that boring chore into something interesting. Look for seemingly insignificant details and find out more information about them. For example, try asking another customer behind you “Hey, I noticed that your carrier looks pretty unique. Where did you buy it from?”
Play Around With “What If” Perspectives During Problem Solving
Explore problems further by asking yourself questions like “What if I handle it that way?”, “What if I engage someone’s help?” and jot down the answers. This invokes one’s curiosity and sooner or later, you’ll find yourself automatically answering such questions easily, forming different scenarios in your mind as you do so.
Tap On Other Curious Brains
For example, if you’re wondering how it would be like to try skydiving, google for related online interest or discussion groups and sign up. By immersing yourself in the frenzy and reviewing what other people ask and shared, you’ll get to experience first hand what it may feels like taking a jab in the sport or activity. Who knows? You may be so impressed that you’ll register for the next skydiving course available!