We've all heard the saying, 'Curiosity killed the cat." But where would we be without a sense of curiosity?
Most of the breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions throughout history, from flints for starting a fire to self-driving cars, have something in common: They are the result of curiosity.
Living a life of curiosity allows you to explore and experiment. It leads you to try new things and meet amazing people in unusual places, creating opportunities for incredible things to happen. That’s because curiosity — a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something — creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery and delight.
Living a curious life doesn't require extraordinary measures. Curiosity is something that can be nurtured and developed. With practice, we can harness the power of curiosity to transform everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences. Embracing curiosity as part of your daily routine, enriches and enlivens what could otherwise be a mundane trudge through the rigors of day-to-day life.
Here are 14 tips on how to stretch that curiosity muscle and cultivate an inquiring mind
1. Change your routine. Routine is the death of curiosity; so change it up. Even one alteration, such as leaving the office for lunch, can be a positive disruptor that brings new ideas. Besides getting some fresh air, who knows what opportunities you might bump into.
2. Ask “What about?” Being curious is like being an investigative journalist, delving into a topic by asking questions. And it all starts with one simple question, What about? . . . What about going to this event instead of doing the same old thing? What about randomly turning left instead of continuing to go straight down this road. Asking What about? can unlock opportunities by exploring questions that we never thought to ask before.
3. Say "Yes," more than you say "No." Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.” A yes will always give you more than a no. A no is guaranteed failure. Nothing is ever stagnant, so a no is usually backward progress. Sure, there is no risk in a no… but there’s no fun in it either. Saying yes can be very fun! Say yes to life and watch as life says yes to you.
4. Be spontaneous. Give yourself permission to ditch your to-do list and follow what your gut wants to do. Got an urge to see a play at the last minute -- go for it! Hearing the call of nature -- answer it! After all, some of the best times in life are usually unplanned and completely random. I once decided to stay after an event at the Kennedy Center to see what the red carpet event they were having was all about. Turned out, it was the night of the Kennedy Center Honors, so I got to meet some awesome, veteran red carpet watchers, learned some dishy gossip from KC staff, and got to meet some celebrities. Being curious definitely paid off in this instance!
5. Pay attention to what's around you. A photographer gave me the best advice I've gotten: Change your perspective. This applies to life in general, too. Being curious is about noticing what’s around you. So whether you're looking through a camera lens or not, pay attention to what’s happening all around you — you might spot something new in a street you walk down every day and make an exciting discovery!
6. Talk to strangers. Some of the best conversations I've had have been with people I met randomly on flights, the Metro, and museums, etc. Uber and Lyft are also great places to strike up a chat. Besides getting recommendations for places to go and things to do, these conversations can be insightful, sparking your curiosity to learn more about something new or already thought you knew.
7. Make new friends. Chances are you tend to do the same types of things with your friend group over and over again. Happy hour, movies, repeat, that sort of thing. Meeting new people will introduce you to a new world of hobbies and things to do that might interest you, and a ready-made clique to hang out with. Meetups, artist talks, book events, etc are great places to start.
8. Experiment. Curiosity is about trying things out. And learning from the experiences, rather than obsessing over success vs failure. Whether it’s trying a new route to the office, starting a new hobby or trying a new cuisine, dive in and see what happens.
9. Ditch the guidebook. There's nothing wrong with seeing the sights that make a place famous. But at some point during your trip, leave the guidebook in your hotel and just wander wherever your feet take you, or ask a local for their favorite haunts. Amazing things can happen in the least obvious places. I once ended up at a charming neighborhood bistro with the BEST food thanks to a tip from the manager of a B&B I was staying at in Montreal.
10. Visit museums and art galleries. Being around art and museum collections naturally inspires curiosity. See what catches your eye and go with it. Ask questions, read the background materials, take pictures, sketch, or just take it all in with no agenda. There is no right or wrong way to experience your surroundings. You might be inspired to explore something you saw in more detail, take up a hobby or apply a more creative lens to challenges at work.
11. Explore the familiar. We tend to overlook the things we see everyday or ignore them in favor of dashing off to somewhere else. Spend time being a tourist in your own neighborhood; choose a different route than your usual and open your eyes to what's around you. Curious about that eatery? Stop in for a bite! Never noticed that shop around the corner? Drop in and browse for a bit. Rediscover the magic around you.
12. Get outside your comfort zone. Until I randomly said yes to a friend's invitation to go hiking, I used to say that I was allergic to hiking. Stepping out of my "I'd rather be doing brunch" comfort zone opened me up to discovering something I'm passionate about now. Staying in your comfort zone is like wearing blinders. You will tell yourself that all you care about are the things that are already a part of your life. You will continually convince yourself that you dislike the things you've never tried. Take some risks and you might discover something you love.
13. Revisit something you're iffy about. Interests and passions change and develop over time. I'm the first to tell anyone that asks that I don't like camping. But the truth is, I only went once ages ago, so I don't really know 100% whether I like it or not. Give things you're unsure about a second (or third) try and see what happens. You don't have to go into the experiment expecting to like it at the end; your goal should be discovering interesting, new-to-you about it. But who knows, you might end up surprising yourself.
14. Take a trip. Across the country or the state line, or even your own backyard, a change in location can change your state of mind and outlook, so if you need to change your mindset, change your scenery. Regardless of the destination, embrace unscripted moments and seek opportunities for immersion in the local culture. The beauty is in not knowing who you'll meet or what will happen. I get goosebumps thinking about the possibilities!
Someone added to the idiom as: ‘curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back. But ultimately, perhaps a better idiom would be: Ignorance killed the cat. Curiosity was framed.
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it