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Curiosity is actively exploring your environment, asking questions, investigating possibilities, and possessing a sense of both wonder and doubt.
Curiosity Jump Starts Your Personal Brilliance
Curiosity helps you clarify problems, ideas, and situations, and it encourages you to explore how they could be different. Actively exploring the environment, asking questions, investigating possibilities, and possessing a sense of wonder are all part of being curious. Questions are key. Once you open up to the nuances of life, it's easy to find things that fascinate you and to begin wondering "why?" and "how?"
Questioning takes you to deeper levels of knowing and helps you relate to others. When you develop heightened curiosity, you improve the quality of your life by asking better questions and being receptive to new ideas. The desire to expand your understanding motivates you to go beyond the surface. You learn more because you have a desire to know more. When you approach an idea, person, or situation with a heightened sense of curiosity, your natural tendency is to "quest" for additional information. Even when you can't immediately apply what you learn, you are training to keep your curiosity muscles "buff."
Another advantage of being curious is that your brain is designed to reward you for exploring fresh ideas and trying new activities. When you experience novelty, your brain produces more dopamine -- an important brain chemical that lifts your mood and increases your sense of wellbeing.
Break Through Curiosity Barriers
What stops us from being curious when "the desire to understand" is clearly an inborn attribute of being human?
The answer to this question is somewhat different for everyone, but there are some common curiosity barriers that many people come up against. These barriers include fear of the unknown, entrenched beliefs, insecurity, apathy, and avoidance. The magic with curiosity is that once you start to break through the barriers, you can quickly return to a state of child-like wonder and questioning.
Although we tend to think of barriers as "bad," they provide us with important information about who we are and how we function under various challenging conditions. As the proverb goes, "Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors." Every time we confront a barrier and find a way to remove it or go around it, we improve our problem-solving skills and the underlying curiosity muscles.
Rather than dreading the barriers that are certain to be ahead, try to anticipate them in the way an athlete looks forward to an upcoming race or game.
Heighten Your Curiosity
Albert Einstein, one of the most innovative thinkers in history, said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Your outcomes are greatly determined by the quality of the questions that you ask yourself and others. Heightening your curiosity improves the quality of your life. People who are curious are open to thousands of potentialities and therefore increase their power to find the best solutions, the most lucrative offers, and the most creative ideas. Rather than being entrenched in their current beliefs, they withhold judgment, knowing that the last chapter has yet to be written.
The power that heightening your curiosity can create in your life is truly unlimited. When you put past judgments aside, you come up with some of your most innovative ideas. For example, when Henry Ford made a commitment to develop an "unbreakable" glass for car windshields his highly educated engineers reported that it was "impossible." Undaunted, Ford directed them to find someone who didn't know it was impossible. The plant recruited some curious engineers who had not yet accumulated a mass of limitations based on what they "knew" and this group came up with the formula to manufacture shatterproof glass. A commitment to curiosity solved a seemingly impossible problem and has saved scores of lives in the decades since this innovation was introduced.
If you've ever spent time with a young child, you know that curiosity is a natural gift. Children are like miniature reporters, constantly asking who, what, when, where, and particularly why. They also have very few preconceived notions, so they’re open to taking in new information without being constrained by biases and judgments. An exchange with the seven-year-old daughter of a friend highlights this openness.
She said, "My mom told me not to talk to strangers." I agreed that her mother had given her savvy advice. But then she asked, "What is a stranger?" I easily replied, "A stranger is someone you don't know." She thought for a moment and replied, "But I didn't know any of my friends when I met them, so they were all strangers, weren't they?" What could I say? She had me. In that moment, I realized that thinking like a child opened doorways that most adults had closed years before.
Young children believe that most everything is possible. Until someone convinces them otherwise, or until they become jaded through failures or disappointments, the world is a wide open place filled with delightful possibilities. They can imagine flowers that talk and spaceships that shrink down small enough to fit under their bed. Nothing is off limits. To reconnect with that open sense of possibility is one of the most powerful benefits of heightening your natural gift of curiosity. Making it a practice to think like this, at least a few times each day can trigger countless ideas for personal innovation.
Jim Canterucci is the author of Personal Brilliance. He can be reached via the web at www.MyPersonalBrilliance.com or at 614.899.9044.
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