Wanting to know more
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”—Albert Einstein
Why does curiosity matter?
When you’re curious about something, you process it deeply, rather than superficially. You also voluntarily spend more time learning about things that spark your curiosity. As a result, you more readily remember what you learn. In general, people who are more curious are happier and better liked.
Reflect on how you’ve engaged with the world this past week. How many of these things are true?
- I got so absorbed in learning that I lost track of time.
- I talked to someone who gave me a new idea or changed my mind.
- I took the initiative to learn more about one of my interests.
- When I didn’t know the answer to a question, I couldn’t rest until I figured it out.
- I explored a completely new idea or topic—just for the fun of it.
How do I encourage curiosity in others?
Model it. Cheerfully admit that you don’t know what you don’t know: “I actually don’t know how to do that problem. Let’s look it up together!” However you enjoy exploring your personal interests—books, podcasts, documentaries—share what you like: “I listened to the most amazing story today. Let me tell you about it!”
Celebrate it. Praise question-asking: “What a great question! I love the ideas it’s sparking!” Show admiration for wrong answers: “No, that’s not right. Explain to me how you’re thinking about this!” Build on curiosity expressed as statements: “I bet that if we use all our pencils we can build a skyscraper!” “That’s cool, let’s see how we can do that!”
Enable it. Make room for curiosity: When planning an activity, factor in time for questions. Establish an end-of-day ritual to share one thing each person in the family learned that they didn’t know before. Replace close-ended questions (“Is oxygen a component of the air we breathe?”) with open-ended questions (“What is air made of?”).
About the Author
Reflect on how your personal interests, hobbies, and goals relate to what you’re learning in school.
Related Thoughts of the Week
Self-explanation over other-explanation
Our mindsets can powerfully shape how we interpret our objective situations.
On the importance of curiosity in our everyday lives.
Videos about Curiosity
Jon Baron Talks About Curiosity and Actively Open-Minded Thinking
Dr. Jon Baron shares how actively open-minded thinking and curiosity can make a difference in your life.
This is Your Brain on Curiosity | Matthias Gruber | TEDxUCDavisSalon
Neuroscientist Matthias Gruber explains how stimulating curiosity makes the brain work better and improves memory.
Susan Engel—Highlights from Grit and Imagination Summit, 2016
Dr. Susan Engel explores the inherent curiosity in children—and how to further cultivate it.
The Case for Curiosity | Mario Livio | TEDxMidAtlantic 2012
Astrophysicist Mario Livio takes you on a curiosity journey that touches the stars, the brain, psychology labs, and Hollywood celebrities.
Character is more than just curiosity.
There are many other strengths of heart, mind, and will.LEARN MORE ABOUT CHARACTER