Exploring the magic of inquisitiveness in everyday life
While I was watching Frozen II with my niece for the first time—my first, she had already seen it at least 19 times—there was a scene early in the movie that really stood out to me.
Late at night while in her home in Arendelle, Elsa started hearing a distant, mysterious voice, calling out to her like a siren. She felt uneasy and a bit frightened, and yet was curiously drawn to it. What followed was a spectacular musical, with thrilling scenes, beautiful melodies, and an inspiring message to go “into the unknown.”
What a powerful lesson this was for young kids, I thought. As a new parent, I’ve read several books that also emphasize the importance of raising curious and confident children. This makes sense intuitively, and in fact there are studies that have linked high levels of curiosity in children to greater academic success, better relationships, and more fulfillment later in life. So, it’s no surprise that we try our best to spark and nurture our children’s innate desire to ask questions and explore the world.
And yet, how often do we think critically about our own curiosity and how to foster it in ourselves? It is such a common and often subtle feeling that we can easily take it for granted in our day-to-day lives. Taking time to reflect and be more intentional about one’s curiosity can help reignite that spark and fuel personal and professional growth.
In my role as a consultant at Audienz, I often think about my own desire and capacity to learn. In our era of knowledge work, the intrinsic drive to seek new information can be a competitive advantage, like when you are trying to learn all there is to know about your client’s product or industry in order to give sound business advice.
In my part-time life as a graduate student, the countless hours spent listening to lectures, pouring over readings, and working on business cases seem to be more enjoyable when approached with more curiosity. What’s more, tackling a breadth of subjects can help train the brain to make connections across different domains, leading to creative solutions and sometimes breakthrough innovations.
More than just an intellectual endeavor, curiosity is also very relational and personal. Humans are inherently social animals, and being curious about how other people think, feel, and behave is driven by a very instinctive need to distinguish friend from foe and gain more information about the world. When turned inwards, it can help us explore our own identities and thinking—paying closer attention to the subtle forces that affect such things as our stress tolerance and decision making.
Perhaps most importantly, curiosity can give life more meaning. The drive to explore and seek novelty is what makes us human. From venturing out of our caves to exploring new planets, curiosity has played a big role in the existence and development of our species. Beyond scientific discoveries and interplanetary travel, curiosity can give more meaning to the daily minutia of our modern-day existence.
In its most magical form, curiosity encourages us to truly engage with the world around us—and, like Elsa, gives us the courage to explore the unknown.