I’m more convinced than ever that the reason for living is to learn. When learning stops, life stops. And it seems to me that having a healthy curiosity about everything we encounter is the key to learning and acquiring knowledge. It’s also the key to never being bored. Dorothy Parker said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
We are born curious. Babies explore the world through their new senses. They learn faster than at any other stage of life. As they become toddlers, they begin to question everything. (Did you ever get caught up into a “Why?” cycle with a three-year-old?) Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”
Students who excel in their work are those with a thirst for learning. Their natural curiosity compels them to soak up knowledge like a sponge. Studies have shown that students with a high degree of curiosity score higher in intelligence tests than others who do not possess the trait.
Businesses are getting on the curiosity bandwagon, and encouraging their employees to questions assumptions, to ask why, to push limits. The Walt Disney Company describes itself thus: “Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Curiosity is the fuel that drives their success.
And as we age, curiosity is what keeps up vital. Seniors who explore new interests and maintain interest in life and their surroundings are less likely to develop dementia. And, studies have proven they are likely to live longer!
There are many resources available to encourage seniors to remain life-long learners. My retired friends are unanimous in saying that they are busier now than when they worked. They are learning to paint, exploring Tai Chi, participating in book clubs, travelling, even returning to school. A marvelous trend in many states is state universities allowing seniors to audit classes for free! I know this is true here in Ohio, because I took an art appreciation class as Kent State University. This is a trend that encourages learning for its own sake, just for the pure pleasure of learning!
What happened to us that killed off our curiosity? Do our schools, churches, and places of business discourage independent thought? When did we begin to put more value on answers than on questions?
Asking questions allows us to learn and grow as humans. It encourages us to develop the critical thinking skills that are so necessary to finding solutions to society’s problems. As we have moved out of the industrial era into the information era, curiosity is a key piece of the work we must do to be successful. It is only through the curiosity of individuals and teams that businesses can continue to grow and innovate.
Desiring to explore our world is our natural state of being. Albert Einstein said of himself, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Indeed, we were all born passionately curious. Cultivating that curiosity keeps life interesting and fun. Allowing our curiosity to drive our learning, dear reader, is what keeps us vital as we continue on our journey through life.
“I think I benefited from being equal parts ambitious and curious. And of the two, curiosity has served me best.”
― Michael J. Fox