Still Writing: #A-Z Challenge

“When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives–and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by the desire to explore the unfamiliar. They are drawn toward what they don’t understand.”

Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

Why did  hard-rock band Van Halen write a bowl of M&M candies into every performance contract? What does your name have to do with where your live or your chosen career?  What’s a zombie app?

If you find these questions intriguing, congratulations. Curiosity is alive and well in you, and ready to shower you with magnificent benefits to your mind, body and spirit.

How Curiosity Benefits You

I’ve added another book to my lengthy ‘to-read’ list. It’s called Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life by Todd Kashdan.

Since I haven’t read it yet, however, I’ll need to rely on an excellent post by Kashdan so I can summarize just a few of the many benefits of being curious, a.k.a. having an intense desire to know.

Body

More than 1000 adults, aged 60-86, were tracked for five years. Those who were rated as being more curious at the beginning of the study were more likely to be alive five years later, even after researchers accounted for age, smoking, and pre-existing health concerns.

A 2005 study in Health Psychology found a correlation between curiosity and a decreased likelihood of developing hypertension or diabetes. (Remember that correlation doesn’t constitute proof, just a potential for further study.)

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

Albert Einstein

Mind

Our brains release the feel-good chemical, dopamine, when we encounter something new.

High levels of curiosity in adults are related to greater problem-solving skills and overall intelligence.

Spirit

Positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman scientifically tested 24 human strengths. Curiosity was one of five most associated with happiness and overall fulfillment.

Relationships improve when we demonstrate curiosity and openness to one another.

5 Ways to Boost Your Curiosity Quotient

  1. The more you know, the more you notice. If you know a lot about dog training, for example, you will be more curious than other people about new training methods. So build your knowledge in areas of interest.

    Curiosity is what separates us from the cabbages. It’s accelerative. The more we know, the more we want to know.

    David McCullough
  2. Play and playfulness builds curiosity. It doesn’t even have to be deep play. Simply relaxing and having a lighthearted approach to activities makes a positive difference.
  3. Pay attention. Look for what’s unfamiliar in your day-to-day familiar experiences.
  4. Ask questions. Have new experiences. In other words, put yourself out there.
  5. Check out all of the Wow Notes on this site. (Okay, this one is a little self-serving. You can also read books, watch YouTube videos or explore other people’s websites.)

What kinds of things are you curious about? 

Join the tribe:

45 comments

  1. thinking about this …I acknowledge I am not curious enough – mmmm well theres a puncture in that bubble, thanks karen. there is a couple of very old and dear friends who amaze because of their capacity to act with curiousity in the world . it makes them deeply interesting people and very inspiring. I do try to copy this behaviour and after all these years I am still only a novice .I will keep on cultivating this curiousity as it makes total sense that it is great for our overall well being.

    1. This surprises me, Sandra. When I read your blog, one of the things that captures me is your deep noticing. I don’t think that level of observation – of humans and animals – can happen without curiosity. I don’t think you’d bother if you weren’t curious. So while you may not be curious about affairs of the world beyond your immediate environment, I do suspect you possess the trait in larger measure than you think.

    1. I am too, Beth. I love digging a little deeper into the blog sites and finding out more about the blogger. For example, just last night I was on Amazon looking at your books. I’m going to read one soon – which would you recommend for my first?

  2. I am curious about ALL. THE. THINGS. I am so blessed to be born in this age of information where I can satisfy my curiosity instantly by just reaching for my phone and typing a few words in. Of course these searches invariably lead to even more things to be curious about. The world is such an interesting place, there is no excuse to be bored, ever…in my opinion.

    Deb

    1. So true, Deb. I have relatives who refer to their Google searches as “pulling a Karen.” I can’t imagine not following the breadcrumbs.
      Have a terrific weekend, Deb. It’s hard to believe we’re only one more weekend away from the end of the month and the end of A-Z. I’m so glad you mentioned A-Z on your blog. I’m having a blast.

      1. I’m glad you’re enjoying the A-Z, Karen! This has been a trying work week for me, for sure. I am wiped. This weekend will be spent in recovery and self-care. So glad I spent last weekend hammering out posts so all I had to do every morning was hit “Publish”. Much as I love the challenge, I am happy to be nearing the finish line. You have a great weekend as well!

        Deb

  3. Love your quotes, Karen, especially Einstein’s. I’m curious about the world around me, and the galaxy, too. Walking and traveling satisfy and feed my curiosity even more. I’m hoping there will be a less expensive way to travel to the moon. I kind of went for the second best moonscape in the Moon Valley in Chile.

    1. I like your point that walking and traveling both satisfies and feeds your curiosity, Natalie. That’s the best of all worlds.
      And speaking of which, Moon Valley in Chile seems to me to be a great alternative to the far more expensive option of traveling to the moon in the sky. And so superior to wandering about on moonscapes designed by Disney (don’t know if they have that at their parks yet, but if they don’t, they will 🙂 )

  4. A post that speaks my language!! “Have new experiences …. put yourself out there” seems to currently be my life’s goal. 😁

    The quote “the more we know, the more we want to know” is so true. I would even add another part to it and suggest that the more we know, the more we realize how much we don’t know at all. I’m highly motivated by that … which is why I don’t understand people who claim to be bored. I’m not talking about short-term “I don’t know what to do with myself right now” which everyone encounters occasionally, but the greater malaise of inertia that many people suffer.

    1. Your life’s goal and the tagline for your blog, Joanne. You are a woman who walks your talk. And I agree – it’s both sad and inexplicable that there are people who find life boring.

  5. Another excellent post, Karen! I am curious about all things medical (I swear I should have been a doctor) and everything I run across in life. I think that is where my love of books come from; I want to know more to solve that mystery before the author tells me at the end, I want to find out how to make that recipe, I want to learn how to develop a website or put together a computer. I don’t think I could be happy with a life only looking at the surface of things without wondering what is underneath it all. We have a saying in this house, “Google is our friend” lol. 😉

    1. In a post she wrote about podcasts, Alana (ofloveandlight.org) talked about a podcast on how things are made. You might find that interesting.
      And yup, I’m with you – google is indeed our friend.

      1. Thanks for the recommendation on Alana’s site…I will be sure to check that out. It does sound interesting. 🙂

  6. I think there are different levels of curiosity. And, this level also has to do with your mood, living circumstances and time in your life. I can call myself curious, for example, but there are times when I’m too tired to be curious. Parents raising children, while they are curious about the development of their child, they might be too exhausted or busy to pursue other interests and curiosities.

    And, yes, I always want to learn more – I’d love to read much more than I do right now – but, I feel my mind (and brain) is limited, so I need/want to be selective in my curiosity as to not be overwhelmed. When it comes to experiencing new things on the other hand, the sky is the limit! 🙂

    1. Interesting. I’m thinking that curiosity is a stable personality trait, Liesbet, but that even curious people can have times when fatigue takes all of the colour of their world and their sense of curiosity vanishes for a while with it. Funny that we’re talking about this now. I’ve just been reading and writing about rest cures and I want one so desperately at the moment. I see it as a time when I would love to turn off my curiosity for a while.

      It makes sense to me to be selective in our curiosity, especially when working on a major project as you are doing right now. I remember reading somewhere that when writing a book, there comes a time when you should stop reading anything else (except this blog of course 🙂 ) so that your whole being can reside in the world you are creating for your readers.

      1. That’s a good point. I have noticed that many bloggers take a break from the blogging world (writing and reading) when focusing on a writing project. Sound advice, but I would miss the social interaction and the entertainment value. I have been considering blocking all else out, though. The reason this memoir is in its third year is because I can’t drop the rest of life nor blogging. 🙂 Maybe I should, as my mental deadline is approaching quickly. And, being absent of the blogging world would be easier than letting go of all else around me right now… We’ll see what happens. Maybe in May.

  7. I am a curious person. If you aren’t that type, people like me can drive you nuts. I’ve been known to learn something absolutely amazing and share it with everyone who will listen. It’s too exciting to keep to myself!

    1. I kind of do that too, Jacqui. Hence the Wow Notes category of my website. My friends are happy that they can go there to find out about things that fascinate me, or they can choose not to go. I always pretend that it’s the former and deliberately avert my eyes from Google Analytics because I want to maintain my fantasy.

  8. Karen, I believe curiosity, like creativity, manifests itself differently in different people. And just like creativity, many people who claim “I’m not really curious” actually are, but manifest it differently than the traditional. While for some, curiosity is following breadcrumbs down the rabbit hole (mixed metaphor for sure!) on every topic, for other’s it’s pick and choose learning or experiencing new things. I’ve no desire to learn more about Van Halen or zombie app, sorry… but I’m getting more and more intrigued with the Archetype of a Seeker… and are there different types of Seekers. One being the curious about everything – the seeking for the sake of seeking. Another being seeking a specific “answer” or end point. Perhaps there are others. Just as I might have said I’m not very creative (I’ve learned it’s because I manifest creativity differently than expected), I would also classify myself as not very curious. Yet, on certain topics, I dig in to learn!

    1. Hi Pat,
      While I am heartbroken ( 🙂 ) to learn that my twin is not dying to find out why Van Halen insisted on a bowl of M&Ms backstage with all of the brown M&Ms removed (have I got you yet?), I have to agree. I consider myself a curious person, but only about certain things. For example, I am passionately curious about concepts and big ideas, but I’ve lived on my property and looked at my trees for 20 years and never once have I cared to know anything beyond deciduous or coniferous. Oh, and that I don’t have enough maple trees to get any syrup.
      Where we are once again identical is in enthusiasm for the archetype of the seeker. And today I was just reading something about different landforms being archetypes. My brain is curiously following those bread crumbs down those rabbit holes (a perfectly good mixed metaphor).

      1. I sent you a direct email about Seekers… I followed crumbs down the rabbit hole all weekend… and almost missed my yoga class. I found flow! Irrelevant information to most, but flow to me. OK… Maybe I’ll look up the M&M thing.

        1. Terrific, Pat. I look forward to reading it. And if you’re going to miss yoga class, do so because you’re having a flow experience is the best possible reason. At least that’s what I think!

  9. I think that I am selective curious if it is something I want to learn about. Honestly, though, there are some things I simply am not curious about.

    1. Hi Fran,
      I just wrote a reply to Pat where I completely agree with both of you. Selective curiosity for sure. And for you and me right now, intense curiosity about our selected art forms. I love the feeling of learning more and more, and wanting to know more and more.

  10. This morning I was at the Society of Architectural Historians Conference. I’m not an architect or a historian. Why was I there? I was just curious. I find myself in all sorts of odd places just because I’m curious. Now I know there are some benefits besides fodder for future books. This is a fabulous post! I shared it, pinned it and tweeted it. Have a wonderful day off tomorrow.
    Facing Cancer with Grace

    1. Thanks so much for sharing the post, Heather. Good for you to be at a conference like that. That’s one disadvantage of living in the country – fascinating, specialized conferences tend to be held in larger areas.

    2. This is something I would like to know more about. I would like to see if there is something local in my area. Thanks for planting the seed!

  11. Another great post, Karen and I will be checking your Wow Notes! I think I’m a curious person and like to keep learning. I also might be sitting at the TV with hubby and we want to know about an actor, place or thing so I just google it on my phone and find out. Lifelong learning is so important to healthy aging and thanks for the reminder and tips.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    1. Thanks, Sue! I could tell that you’re a curious person by the wide range of topics you talk about on your blog.
      Have a good day off and get rid of the rest of that cold. See you Monday.

  12. One of my favorite memories of my late father-in-law is how he would get up from dinner to fetch an encyclopedia (pre-internet) to look up the answer to a question. The world is so wonderfully complex! How can we not be curious? Plus, we now have the advantage of basically carrying around encyclopedias in our pockets.

    1. I’m happy that we have encyclopedias in our pockets, but admit that I do still love to look things up in reference books – even if it’s just the meanings of words in my OED when playing Scrabble with a friend. I appreciate the evocative image of your father-in-law perusing the encyclopedia, Jenny.

  13. I am very curious and I find that asking a lot of questions just makes me want to ask more. I know it drives some people nuts but my curiosity also has opened doors to some great conversations. I love that my husband is curious too. I will often find him still asking questions after most people have moved on. I’m now curious about how you liked the book after you’ve read it… be sure to let us know.

    1. Hi Janis,
      I imagine that it would be very difficult for a curious person to be married to an uncurious one. Just another way that you and your husband seem to be very well matched.
      I will definitely let you know about Kashdan’s book. I’ve ordered it through interlibrary loan.

  14. I love curiosity and enjoy being around curious people.
    Thank you for another very inspiring post, Karen, that has led to very thought-provoking comments.
    I agree with you, Deb, and all who have shared the sentiment that “the world is such an interesting place, there is no excuse to be bored”.

    1. Thanks, Donna. And I’m curious about how your WordPress conference went yesterday. I hope you learned lots and satisfied your curiosity about your questions. Speaking of which, I got so focused on your questions in yesterday’s post that I forgot to tell you that I took an online university course in SEO. I’ve got a page of notes if you’d like them.

  15. Well, I went and read all of three blog posts so I must be curious! My instant reaction to any idle wondering (mine or anyone else’s) is to get my phone out to google the answer. I think being able to find answers so easily these days increases my curiosity.

    1. I’ve never had any doubt as to your level of curiosity, AJ. Anyone who researches and writes about serial killers for an A-Z blogging challenge has a very healthy dose of something, and in your case I don’t think it’s joy for the macabre!

  16. I’m constantly curious. Technology made it so I can look up every new find from my phone. I love your opening quote. Curious people are the best to have conversations with, to be around. That’s probably why blogging is so interesting. We meet who write about all sorts of topics, most new to me, from all around the world.
    Thank you, Karen, another beautiful post.

    1. Hi Silvia,
      So true about blogging feeding our curiosity, especially these A-Z posts where we can learn everything from serial killers to tarot to your characteristics of fictional characters. All wonderful food for the curious mind.

  17. My son is reading a book about the feasibility of living on Mars. He read some interesting bits of it aloud to the rest of the family, which led to a discussion of viruses, which ended with us all watching a TED Talk on existing technologies that will be used to colonize Mars. I’m still a skeptic, but skeptics aren’t the ones who accomplish new things — it is the CURIOUS!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Lee, and for the great example of curiosity alive and well in your family. I love these stories of following the breadcrumbs, finding more and more fascinating information as you go.

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