5 Benefits of Curiosity and How it Can Transform Your Life
5 Benefits of Curiosity and How It Can Transform Your Life
Since becoming a therapist, the word “curiosity” has become such an important word in my vocabulary. Not only do I use it often in my work with clients to promote exploration and growth, but also in my own life as a daily practice. I make an effort to remember to be curious about my thoughts, feelings and actions, as well as that of others, and the results have been truly astounding.
Implementing more curiosity into your life isn’t always easy because we are inherently judgmental, which impedes open-mindedness. Part of the process of fostering curiosity is noticing and challenging all of the critical thoughts that arise toward yourself and others each day. But with practice and patience, you will hopefully experience the transformation that my clients and I have been experiencing due to slowing down and remembering to be more curious.
Curiosity is a skill that everyone should cultivate. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Curious Individuals are Rarely Bored
At its core, curiosity is about exploration. When you make the conscious decision to explore both your inner world and the world around you, feelings of boredom and monotony will likely be replaced with fascination and inspiration. That isn’t to say that everything you uncover about yourself and others will be positive and motivating, but it is nevertheless an engaging journey, and it is one that doesn’t have to be taken alone.
Boredom is a choice. Instead choose curiosity. It may take some extra mental energy, but the result may be excitement, the discovery of new possibilities, adventure, surprise, and insight. A rock can be a rock, or you can choose to pick it up and discover what’s underneath it, challenge yourself and see how many times you can skip it across the water, grab it and turn it into a collection, or use it to create something new and share it with a friend. Open your mind and whenever you’re bored, ask yourself why! You have the ability to change that.
2. Cultivating Curiosity Benefits Our Social and Romantic Relationships
Strengthening your sense of curiosity can greatly change the way you interact with those around you and lead to better connection in your close social and romantic relationships. Curiosity can help you become a better listener, develop more empathy, decrease your defensiveness, and all in all become a more pleasant person to be around.
Everyone enjoys feeling validated and understood. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves in conversations and relationships where these feelings are not achieved. Why is that? To name a few, we don’t actively listen because we are too consumed by our own thoughts and feelings. We don’t empathize because we don’t have enough interest in others’ experiences and how they differ from our own. We get defensive because we care more about our own “right-ness” than the other person’s unique, and possibly challenging perspective. We don’t let ourselves be guided by curiosity.
The next time you are having a conversation with your partner, friend, family member, remind yourself to be curious and see how it impacts the discussion and your feeling of connection. Here are some ideas on how to do this:
· Don’t listen with the intent to respond or rebuke. Listen with the intent to listen.
· Put in effort to truly hear what they are telling you and try to repeat it back to them instead of interjecting your own thoughts and feelings. You will have time to share what you want to, just be patient.
· Don’t start a question with a “why,” which insinuates judgment. Begin with “I’m curious” or “I’m wondering,” to gain better understanding of their perspective. (Yes this is a therapist trick, but everyone should try it!)
· Asking clarifying questions will not only slow down your process but also theirs. You can each learn more about yourselves and one another.
3. Being Curious Prepares the Brain for Better Learning
Curiosity will actually make your brain more active and strengthen the area of your brain that deals with emotions and memory. This leads to an increased ability to learn and retain information, a better work and academic performance, and higher motivation and problem-solving capabilities.
If you’ve ever been truly interested or passionate about something, than you’ve probably experienced these benefits. It’s easier to learn and remember information when we really dedicate our attention to it. Find things that spark your curiosity and go with it! Your brain will thank you.
4. Curiosity Fosters Mindfulness and Gratitude
One of the best parts about coming from a place of curiosity is when you can escape the chaos of your own mind and start to notice different aspects in the world around you that you otherwise wouldn’t see. Often times, practicing curiosity reveals a hidden beauty and order to the world that is sometimes hard to see behind the negativity we all face at different times in our lives.
Curiosity is a central feature of mindfulness and gratitude. When we are sincerely interested in our experience, this deepens our engagement with it. This allows us to bring our attention more fully to the present moment, appreciate what we currently have and see, as well as discover new hopes and possibilities.
5. Curiosity Promotes Personal Growth
This is one of my favorite aspects of utilizing curiosity in psychotherapy. When I share mutual curiosity with my clients, amazing changes occur. In addition to everything listed above, I’ve seen increased curiosity lead to individuals:
· Rediscovering their creativity and producing beautiful pieces of art and music.
· Becoming more resilient in face of adversities.
· Gaining better self-understanding and self-worth.
· Better comfortability with uncertainty and control over anxiety.
I could go on but I think you get the picture. In addition to the relationship between a client and their therapist, I believe that curiosity is an important agent of change in psychotherapy.
Therapy can provide a safe environment where you can learn to implement these skills into your life. Call today to start your journey toward self-exploration, growth, and healing.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein