Curiosity

You’ve likely heard the expression ‘Curiosity killed the cat.’ Many have been led to believe inquisitiveness will get you into trouble. Perhaps you were castigated as a child for having an overly enquiring mind. But did you know this age old proverb was actually taken completely out of context from William Shakespeare’s late 16th Century play Much ado about nothing?

‘What, courage man! What though care killed a cat,

thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.’ 

Meaning to stop worrying, which will likely get you killed and be courageous. A far stretch from curiosity! Yet this distorted formative belief still holds true to this very day and may well have held man back from greater achievement.

 

Such formative beliefs, known as neural associations, significantly form your perception of reality, regardless of the fact that they maybe incongruent to reality. Sadly, this is just one of millions of associations that influence your thoughts, feelings, decisions, behaviours and therefore outcomes all the time. In this light, the foundation on which your whole world is created is er…. not actually based on fact. At least, not objective fact. This innocuous yet all-pervading unconscious habitual mental assumption grossly sabotages your potential, which can lead to dire consequences.

So, how did society come to label curiosity a negative trait and all but forgotten power? Many psychologists class curiosity as a basic emotion as it is linked with desire. Harking back in time, it was labelled corruptive by religion. Often because this insatiable desire exceeds all else that may well lead to forbidden fruits, thereby also tarnishing it as greed, another negatively associated quality. After all, curiosity opened Pandora’s box and was the reason Eve in the Garden of Eden brought death upon humanity.

These connotations, myths and fables have shaped societies earliest beliefs for millennia. You might not even be religious, and yet it’s likely they may well have still shaped you. But a lack of inquisitiveness is surely more detrimental to humanity’s evolution. It is the driver for scientific and technological advancement and, in the simplest measure, the basis of creation and survival.

Curiosity is often tarred by the same brush as risk. Unfortunately, your brain, religion and social convention do not much like unpredictability, which is where the problem originates. Employing curiosity and then allowing it to take you wherever it wishes, falls outside of certainty, which is classed as risk, chance or possibility. This is why there is little allowance in our rigid education system or workplace for it. Think about it. Unless your role leans towards innovation, most employment is predicated on output with little, if any, encouragement for fresh insight, which can be seen as inefficient. Indeed, questioning is often seen as challenging authority. Education is designed to follow a structured curriculum based on what our government deems imperative learning by reproducing the same academic results, moulding students by out-dated idealism of intelligence. But this way of thinking often strips our natural abilities and hinders progress; whereas self-directed exploration and learning through curiosity is the catalyst for individualism, talent and high performance. As with most things, there are always extremes, but this should not discount the good curiosity can do, such as spark imagination and creativity. Indeed, there would be little innovation without it.

Sir Ken Robinson in his famous 2006 TedTalk said, ‘Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.’

New research shows that curiosity also presents action and with it great potential, deeper thinking, understanding and reasoning, learning, knowledge, adaptation, creativity and achievement. Success is therefore driven and achieved by curiosity.

When in a pickle, the one impulse that immediately comes to mind is: ‘How can I get out of or improve this situation?’ This basic human attribute triggers your innate survival response that has the ability to either transcend circumstances and therefore fear or fold under pressure. This is because curiosity overrides the same limiting beliefs that hold the majority back, hence is the impetus for finding solutions and results.

Interestingly, research from the University of Arizona, in partnership with Cornell and Duke, demonstrates the powerful connection between setting objectives and your instinct to act. Your brain literally lights up with excitement when given a job to do. And further research from Harvard Business School shows curiosity bypasses negative mental assumptions (biases) and stereotyping and broadens thinking towards generating evidence-based alternatives. In doing so, decreases decision-making errors.

After reflecting upon how I escaped my own negative spiral and transformed so much, one constant hit me like a lightning bolt. My inner wisdom instinctually asked ‘How can I improve this situation?’ It was the simplest thought and the first thing that popped into my head every single time I needed to change something that when framed as a challenge, always lead to action. ‘Seriously?’ I thought. ‘It couldn’t possibly have been that simple.’

Well actually it wasn’t as simple as that, but at the same time it was. Because curiosity offered a process over and above the mere concept of how to resolve a problem. Starting with an innate desire to turn my life around, achieved through the action of continual inquiry. Preliminary, it triggered my innate survival response that surpassed mere questioning into burning curiosity which became key to transcending circumstances and therefore fear. In addition, it instinctually caused me to actively find solutions rather than just meeting set objectives. The difference? It offered limitless possibilities. Hmmm, could this even be the concept behind luck?

But isn’t this how the greatest of innovations throughout history have been sparked? By finding solutions to problems? Motivation being not just self-preservation but pushing the boundaries of self-advancement by a natural desire to do better. Where ambition leads to questioning and vice versa! Like our ancestors, the Homo Habilis, thinking, ‘There must be an easier way to dissect meat. Hmmm, what if I smash stones together to form sharp edges that could help cut through meat?’ Curiosity has certainly proven itself to be an effective means in evolution.

It’s likely how farming began 12,000 years ago when man questioned how he could establish more accessible food staples like fruit. It is also how around 2500 years ago clothes changed in design, by fashioning suitable body armour, helmets and shields to protect soldiers and improve survival in battle. How Edward Jenner eradicated Smallpox in 1796 with the first vaccine that subsequently extended human survival to this very day. And it’s the reason Tim Berners-Lee originally created the World Wide Web that you know today as the internet because he wanted to improve communication between various U.S. Defence Departments. All of this happened because of an innate desire to improve something.

There is no doubt curiosity is taken for granted, dismissed and underestimated much of the time. A curious attitude has been all but educated out of us by social norms; a paradox given questioning – the action triggered by curiosity – is the most fundamental, instinctive and effective (offensive) resource you have that I believe has the power to set you free.

The dictionary distinguishes curiosity as:

A strong desire to learn or know something.

 

Advancement by curiosity is the fount from which all creation springs. I believe it also goes beyond mere motivation into provocation that not only has the power to conquer the complex conundrum of the all-pervading fear response but also pivots you to become an unlimited force of nature.

This profound insight inspired me to analyse my own processing when I released a pattern had subtly emerged under the one umbrella thought/action of curiosity. To me, this whole unfolding was what I imagine it would be like to reveal winning lottery numbers, only better!

I realised curiosity offered an entire process that performed beyond thought diversion into a total intervention. Because not only did it lift me out from my own morbid dysfunction, it set me on a path of understanding why I was so dysfunctional that unlocked rapid transformational improvements.

Let me break down exactly what curiosity does:

  1. Curiosity is the catalyst for change and so is your vital point of power. Because you cannot change something unless you know there is something that needs changing. Establishing there is a situation requires checking in on yourself. Becoming curious about how you are feeling at any given moment is the first step towards identifying problems.

  2. Awareness is the fundamental difference and the key to playing offence and keeping you in control rather than defence/reacting and out of control. Asking yourself, ‘How can this situation be improved?’ gives you the power to change that naturally leads towards…

  3. Action that initiates exploration towards findings solutions.

  4. Being proactive inspires a feeling of empowerment; because feeling in control is key to better well-being and results.

  5. In doing so, diverts you away from the feedback loop of associative negative thinking, feeling and behaviour and into action that bypasses fear.

  6. Unlocks your brain’s functioning to recognise more opportunities, key to making you seemingly lucky!

  7. Along with providing the obvious, knowledge acquisition that helps you become smarter and wiser.

  8. It inspires better collaborative relationships that make you more trustworthy, bolsters respect and therefore makes you more likeable.

  9. Curiosity is also an intrinsic driver that isn’t reliant on you consciously summoning motivation.

  10. Asking yourself how to improve a situation is the first most innate thought/action you do automatically that flows with powerful evolutionary forces that support you without even thinking about it. Which is much easier than pushing against them.

  11. Curiosity rewires the brain to be more efficient in seeking better results in the future.

  12. This leads to generating constructive alternative solutions and therefore more beneficial problem solving based on a more informed reality.

  13. Reduces decision-making errors that are very often borne from automatic assumption and mental biases.

  14. Less likely to react defensively and less aggressively when provoked that in turn reduces stress.

  15. This also makes you more adaptable and creative and therefore more resilient.

  16. Associated with better job performance and therefore financial reward.

  17. All of which offers a greater sense of security, self-worth, life meaning and therefore fulfilment.

  18. This equates to simply feeling good.

  19. Because it’s so universal and ever-present, it is not contingent upon any given life circumstances or mental state which is where happiness, gratefulness and motivation all falter.

  20. Delving even further, curiosity actually taps into the same brain’s reward centre, giving you the added bonus of strengthening memory. Therefore it is our best method of learning and information retention.

  21. And finally, passionate curiosity offers vast opportunities for infinite growth, not least of which includes ingenuity.

 

Happiness advocates like Shawn Achor from Harvard University have now scientifically determined happiness offers incredible benefits over and above the obvious sense of just feeling good. Happiness can:

 

  • Improve self-worth and confidence.

  • Develop positive emotional and behavioural responses that help towards building more authentic relationships.

  • Bolster physiological as well as neurophysiological health.

  • Build resilience to endure highs and lows.

  • Increase productivity and unlock creativity which helps to better recognise opportunities.

  • Increases longevity and most importantly a better quality of life.

  • All of which offers financial advantages too.

 

Despite the pursuit of happiness being one of man’s most enduring preoccupations, many believe this is the means to feeling less happy. Indeed, forcing any kind of positivity becomes inauthentic and therefore fruitless. Hence why many believe it’s overrated.

Furthermore, there is a large body of evidence curiosity enhances intelligence, deeper engagement and superior performance as well as boosting energy, memory, mental agility and meaning by an impressive 10-20% over profound happiness in adolescent learning.

 

Since identifying curiosity was, without doubt, my pivotal key to my own self-mastery, I decided to deconstruct it. Only then did I realise, it was my greatest power that performed over and above the advantages of any other life hack. Furthermore, I believe it offers far beyond the advantages of happiness because:

 

  • It is the basis and key to resourcefulness and creation.

  • Comes before anything else, as well as during and after as you continuously utilise it.

  • Absolutely free, unlimited resource available for all.

  • Instinctive; you do it all the time without even thinking. You don’t have to force anything, unlike motivation or happiness.

  • Not contingent upon any kind of circumstance.

  • Bridges the gap between what you feel, think and do.

  • An intervention, brain diversion, motivation and the action that leads to results all rolled into one.

  • Key to more intuitive learning and greater intelligence.

  • Presents a journey rather than an outcome, key to maintaining positivity and therefore life fulfilment.

  • Incredibly transformative.

 

This one attitude is so simple and yet, remarkably complex at the same time. So profoundly life-changing, it’s incredibly humbling. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Education and long term experience instils many wondrous skills except the most imperative one. Learning Expert and Author of ‘Limitless’ Jim Kwik says we are not taught how to learn. But at a more fundamental level, we are actually not taught how to think effectively enough which aligns with the World Health Organisation’s statistics for negative health and outcomes.

As our modern world is now a constant blizzard of chaos, influence and distraction, it’s more imperative than ever to be able to sift through the barrage of information more effectively in order to be more deliberate creators. Enabling you to get more of what you do want and less of what you don’t.

My own experience determines that the employment of curiosity was my one constant throughout my self-advancement. Curiosity not only saved me, but became the greatest, most natural way to bio-hack my brain, body and spirit that became the premise of my book. Which is why I believe it’s all you need to align yourself more effectively with what supports you, but positions you to flourish beyond your own self-imposed limitations.

It is my greatest hope to not only activate your most instinctive abilities through a greater understanding of how you really work, but prove the majesty of Curiosity, which is your greatest Superpower.

 

With one word, one thought, one action, my 4 step flexible framework aligns you to think more powerfully, heal, grow and become unlimited. Only available through this online program. ​

© 2017 Melinda Mulcahy, UK.  All information herewith is protected under International Intellectual Copyright laws and can not be reproduced without the author's consent.

Cowbridge

Vale of Glamorgan

United Kingdom

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© 2017 Melinda Mulcahy, UK

All information herewith is protected under International Intellectual Copyright laws and can not be reproduced without the author's consent.

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