Wisdom//

All Knowledge Starts With Curiosity

The importance of speaking up, asking questions, and always staying hungry for more information.

Masterzphotois/ Getty Images
Masterzphotois/ Getty Images

Curiosity is its own reason. Aren’t you in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure behind reality? And this is the miracle of the human mind — to use its constructions, concepts, and formulas as tools to explain what man sees, feels and touches. Try to comprehend a little more each day. Have holy curiosity.” — Albert Einstein

Curiosity led Einstein to the Theory of Relativity. Without curiosity, Isaac Newton would not have discovered the Laws of Physics, and Alexander Fleming probably wouldn’t have discovered Penicillin.

“ A classic example is Steve Jobs’ curiosity for typefaces which led him to attend a seemingly useless class on typography and to develop his design sensibility. Later, this sensibility became an essential part of Apple computers and Apple’s core differentiator in the marketplace,” says Deena Varshavskaya.

Einstein’s genius may be outside the reach of most of us, but his curiosity, perseverance, quest to understand, and tenacity are still worth emulating.

The greatest advantage of curiosity lies in its power to motivate learning in many areas of life and work.

Curiosity is the driving force behind lifelong learning, argues Gentry and McGinnis (2008). Learning to learn (or to be curious) is the most essential life skill you can acquire.

Curiosity and discovery never age.

They are so powerful that they create learning; continually building upon itself, allowing your mind to open up as it grows and develops.

A neurological study has shown that curiosity makes our brains more receptive for learning and that as we learn, we enjoy the sensation of learning.

A naturally curious mind takes interest in a wide range of subjects to find connections to help solve everyday problems better.

When you are open to new ideas, the more you are likely to follow your curiosities, and the more you will be able to connect new information and discoveries with what you already know.

Our insatiable drive to learn, invent, explore, and study deserves to have the same status as every other drive in our lives.

Samuel Johnson says, “Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.”

The problem for millions of people is that they stop being curious about new experiences as they assume responsibilities and build routines.

Their sense of wonder starts to escape them.

But you can change that, especially if you are still looking for find and pursue your life’s work. Fulfilment is fast becoming the main priority for most of us.

Millions of people still struggle to find what they are meant to do.

What excites them. What makes them lose the sense of time.

What brings out the best in them.

Curiosity fuels our imagination. It’s fundamental to our success.

Your instinct to explore should grow into an instinct for inquiry.

And it ultimately helps you discover amazing things about your life and what you can do now and in the future.

You may not have a clear vision for your career yet, but you are probably curious about a lot of things which may or may not be obvious to you right now. Those interests tap into your unique motivations and what drives you. Pursuing them sets you on the path of unlocking who you are.

Curiosity prepares the brain for learning, and skill acquisition.

Assume nothing. Question everything!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” — Voltaire

The acquisition of knowledge and learning derives its energy through questioning.

Brilliant ideas can come out of a more better question.

In one of his well quoted and popular quotes, Einstein reckoned that if he had an hour to solve a problem, he would spend the first fifty-five minutes making sure he was answering the right question.

Start asking better questions to find the right answers.

If you want a better approach to gathering the right information about your life’s work and what you want to spend the rest of your life doing without stress, you should be focusing on getting to the path of inquiry.

Questioning is like breathing — it’s something that seems so basic, so instinctive, that we take it for granted. But there’s a lot we can all learn about how to question, and really do it well to get the answers we seek.

“All my life I’ve been harassed by questions: Why is something this way and not another? How do you account for that? This rage to understand, to fill in the blanks, only makes life more banal. If we could only find the courage to leave our destiny to chance, to accept the fundamental mystery of our lives, then we might be closer to the sort of happiness that comes with innocence.” — Luis Buñuel

A curious mind can relate and connect ideas better. Maintain an open mind and be willing to learn, unlearn and relearn to find get the answers you seek. Your curiosity will develop into an amazing discovery. Something you will easily identify with and can pursue further.

Curiosity can give you more (and better) building blocks to develop creative solutions. It fuels the soul and drives innovation.

Einstein once said he had no special talent but was rather passionately curious. To spark new levels of creativity in your work, you need to observe things around you, practice mindfulness, and step outside your comfort zone.

Professor of Psychology, Todd Kashdan says, “Curiosity has been neglected, even though there are few things in our arsenal that are so consistently and highly related to every facet of well-being — to needs for belonging, for meaning, for confidence, for autonomy, for spirituality, for achievement, for creativity.”

Your insatiable drive to create, learn, invent, explore, and observe deserves to have the same status as every other drive in your life.

Give yourself permission to wonder what could be possible and make even the slightest move in that direction to find answers.

The path to deep knowledge in any field requires you to look for questions that inspire answers you can’t possibly predict.

Curious minds connect information better

“Be curious, not judgmental.” — Walt Whitman

Leonardo da Vinci was insanely curious at the prime of his career.

His observation and belief that “everything connects” informed most of his work. Making connections between seemingly unimportant things is perhaps one of the most crucial creative thinking skills you can ever master.

He didn’t differentiate so much between subjects because he believed that they were all inter-related.

Your instinct to explore should grow into an instinct for inquiry. Creativity happens by making unexpected connections between existing ideas.

Maintain an open mind

“We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately, spend most of their time in the closed mode.” — John Cleese

To be open-minded means to remove your personal biases and prejudices from any situation and completely immerse yourself in another experience to gain more knowledge.

Opening your mind to the possibilities of knowledge, skills and adventure could bring greater fulfilment and happiness to your life.

Open-mindedness and the willingness to try new things can surprise you in the best way possible.

Don’t cramp your imagination to fit your expectations. Be open to learning new approaches to solving problems.

Being open-minded is relaxing.

Your brain doesn’t race with judgmental thoughts that make you feel guilty and you are not aggressively working to hide a gut reaction that has been programmed into you for so long.

Open-mindedness doesn’t even mean that you agree with something. The beauty of open-mindedness is that it allows you to find out so many new things and soak in so many new perspectives.

Eliezer Yudkowsky of LessWrong explains:

“To feel the burning itch of curiosity requires both that you be ignorant, and that you desire to relinquish your ignorance. If in your heart you believe you already know, or if in your heart you do not wish to know, then your questioning will be purposeless and your skills without direction. Curiosity seeks to annihilate itself; there is no curiosity that does not want an answer. The glory of glorious mystery is to be solved, after which it ceases to be mystery. Be wary of those who speak of being open-minded and modestly confess their ignorance. There is a time to confess your ignorance and a time to relinquish your ignorance.

Open-mindedness is a muscle. You must actively place yourself in situations that allow you to dig deeper to understand new concepts, principles and ideas to improve your life, health and wealth.

You could start with one small area to open up to new ideas, and then gradually include more areas of your life.

Cultivate your curiosity

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

Curiosity has been a major factor behind many scientific and technological discoveries and the advancement of human development.

Cultural psychologist Jerome Bruner says curiosity is so important that it “is essential to the survival not only of the individual but of the species. Curiosity sustains our interest and motivates us to inquire or explore, he says.

It’s never too late to starting focusing on developing curiosity instincts.

Begin practicing mindfulness and be conscious of your immediate surroundings. Be curious about things you usually ignore.

Don’t take ordinary things for granted.

Take time to observe and ask questions. Don’t just read and learn about your field of education. Explore other industries.

Following your curiosity can lead to the breakthrough ideas you have been waiting for as a creative professional. You can only harness and make the most of curiosity if you recognize and accept the need to make time for it.

This article was first published on Medium.com

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving. 

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

iPhotographer62/Getty Images
Wisdom//

How to Think And See The World Like Leonardo da Vinci

by Thomas Oppong
what curiosity can teach us about business
Community//

What Curiosity Can Teach Us About Business

by Henriette Danel
Westend61/Getty Images
Well-Being//

The Japanese Term ‘Ikigai’ Might Help You Live a More Fulfilling Life

by Thomas Oppong

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.