Connecting Through Curiosity

curiosity resilience Mar 16, 2022

Curiosity is the spontaneous desire to explore, question, investigate, observe, or experience something new or interesting. We enjoy greater joy and happiness when we approach life with fascination and curiosity.

Through the lens of curiosity, we see life as an adventure and act on our desire to learn and grow. When we are curious, we engage more fully in our day-to-day lives and enjoy seeking out and even taking risks to gain experience, knowledge, and insight. We are motivated and genuinely interested in things, people, and experiences. Curiosity opens our hearts to others, our minds to wisdom, and our spirit to possibilities. It connects us to opportunities beyond our imagination.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

-Albert Einstein

Practicing curiosity at work increases job satisfaction, spurs innovation, enhances our commitment, and promotes healthy work relationships. Not surprisingly, curiosity is also linked to creative problem-solving, idea generation, and job performance. Curious employees are more interested in market trends, understanding what drives business, and getting feedback on their performances. The curious co-worker is less resistant to change and likely to take time to explore why change is needed and how it will make a difference. They are also curious about teammates and more likely to embrace diversity and differing points of view (Kashdan et al, 2019).

Curious About Curious Behavior?

Acting on curiosity looks like…

  • Asking unprompted questions
  • Reading more and reading with greater interest and engagement
  • Closely observing interesting things and images
  • Touching, manipulating, and playing with objects of interest
  • Investigating others’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Trying and doing new things to gain knowledge and experience
  • Adventure seeking

What Drives Curiosity?

Curiosity is a complex and multidimensional human trait that can be divided into four types of curious behavior. They are joyous curiosity, problem-solving curiosity, social curiosity, and thrill seeking. The motivation for each type of curiosity is distinct and determines the type of curiosity.

Joyous curiosity is strongly correlated with happiness and wellbeing. Individuals who practice this style of curiosity are generally more educated and affluent. They are interested in others, socially confident, and influential. They make good leaders. This spontaneous pursuit of knowledge and understanding helps us connect with others and make meaning of life’s difficult and ambiguous events. Joyous curiosity can be motivational in pursuing personal growth and defining purpose in our lives (Kashdan & Steger, 2007; Kashdan, et al., 2018)).

Acting on our curious nature requires two underlying beliefs. The first is that there could be something novel and interesting about the situation, person, experience, or object. The second is that we believe we can handle the stress of the unknown or even negative information that we might discover. While humans are naturally curious, some of us avoid things we don’t understand. When we shy away from the unknown, we are more anxious and less satisfied with life. We forfeit the benefits of our natural curiosity to fear and avoidance. It’s important to realize is that acting on curiosity is what enhances our personal and professional lives.

I think I benefited from being equal parts ambitious and curious. And of the two, curiosity has served me best.

– Michael J. Fox

Curiosity takes courage because when we are truly curious, we are vulnerable to discovering our weaknesses, our flawed thinking, our misunderstandings, our miss-steps, and mistakes. We also open the door to possibilities and opportunities that we may not have even considered. Sometimes curiosity delights, and sometimes it delivers an ugly truth we must face and reconcile (Kashdan, et al. 2019). Through it all, we remain interested and accepting of the novel information and emerging understandings.

Curiosity is what keeps me open to a sense of hope. It staves off negativity.

– Carrie Brownstein

Judgment is the opposite of curiosity. Being judgmental creates premature conclusions and causes us to view others and situations in a closed-minded way. We place the experience or person in a pre-defined box. We rob ourselves of learning and growth.

When we are curious, we are open-minded. We seek information. We actively investigate new ways to see and understand our world. We pursue what is novel. In essence, we create new boxes of thinking and making sense of our experiences. We expand our mindset, our understanding of others, and of ourselves. Through curiosity we increase the possibilities in our lives, including our potential for connection, meaning, purpose, and joy. Take it from Ted Lasso, it’s better to be curious than judgmental.

Simple Ways to Connect Through Curiosity

  • When you find yourself frustrated by someone’s behavior, stop and ask yourself…
    • What could be the story behind this behavior? Consider their emotion, their past experiences, there current situation.
    • How might this person be like me?
    • What is unique, engaging, and genuinely interesting about this person?
  • When frustrated by a situation, shift and get curious about…
    • What is different about this situation?
    • What could I learn from this situation… about a topic, process, person, or myself?
    • What opportunity might be hidden in this frustration?  

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