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Demystifying Curiosity

As children, our uninhibited sense of wonder imbued even the mundane with hidden fascination. By staying curiously childlike as we age, embracing wonder, and rekindling our sense of awe, we can...


Do you remember being a child utterly transfixed by a ladybug crawling across the back of your hand? Or spending hours investigating the cobwebs and cracks of your backyard ground as entire worlds unto themselves?

As children, our uninhibited sense of wonder imbued even the mundane with hidden fascination waiting to be unlocked if we leaned in with enough wide-eyed curiosity.

A curious child in a forest, filled with wonder, looking up at the sun.

Somewhere along the way into adulthood though, cynicism replaces curiosity. The magic fades under the pressure of productivity. Regaining and nurturing our innate human capacity for curiosity takes conscious rediscovery of what it means to embrace joyful inquisitiveness about the world as a lifestyle.

Our Innate Drive to Discover

Curiosity arises from ancient impulses embedded into our biology driving us to make sense of novelty and change in our environments. It generates a desire to turn the unknown into the known through understanding.

Psychologists break curiosity into diverse curiosity which seeks novelty and surprises, and specific curiosity which narrows into a concentrated enquiry on unresolved ideas. Both serve ancient evolutionary roles of sense-making and mastery.

So what happens in modern times to dim and even demonize indulging curiosity, relegating it to aimless time-wasting instead of recognizing its profound cognitive upsides?

Why Has Our Curiosity Been Buried by Busyness?

  • Cultural norms value answers over questions, eroding skills of inquiry
  • Education becomes about efficiently feeding students fixed knowledge rather than nurturing analysis and discernment
  • Workplace cultures restrict opportunities for experimentation off rigidly defined roles
  • Mainstream media feeds us surface-level sound bytes rather than nuanced perspectives

But reawakening our innate curiosity even as adults holds life-changing benefits when embraced as a lifestyle.

The Cognitive Gifts of Curiosity

  • Enhances neuroplasticity keeping our brains vibrant as we age
  • Creates knowledge synergies sparking “aha” moments combining ideas
  • Provides intrinsic joy and satisfaction when we discover something novel
  • Motivates continual self-improvement and inner drive to remedy gaps
  • Opens up Fruitful detachment from stale routines and assumptions

Regaining childlike wonder and inquisitiveness takes re-examining why we instinctively set aside curiosity as adults and instead lean into small daily habits of mindset shift and behavioral change.

Simple Ways to Rewire Yourself Back to Curious

  • Carve time for undirected wondering instead of perpetual busyness
  • Turn impulse googling answers into sitting first with the dissonance of uncertainty
  • Interrupt repetitive routines by altering minor environmental quirks to stimulate sensory awareness

Let Your Inner Child Roam Free

As Carl Sagan reflected, “Every kid starts out as a scientist daily full with wonder as they experience the world. For kids curiosity makes life worth much gets abandoned along the way, under layers of responsibilities and schedules and things left undone...but hidden inside it’s still there.”

This week, give yourself permission through small daily choices to rediscover and set free your untamed inner child full of curiosity about the world waiting to be re-explored.

Notice what neglected fascinations reemerge when you give them oxygen.

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