Curiosity, that insatiable desire to know or learn something, doesn’t just make you an interesting person… it actually has far reaching benefits around happiness, achievement, relationships, and survival.
Holding the thought, “Why?”, can lead to discoveries that open you up to new adventures, discoveries, maybe even a new business or career idea.
The Greater Good Science Center from the University of California at Berkeley studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well being. Their research uncovers findings that aim to make our society more thriving, resilient, and compassionate.
What’s even better is it gives scientific evidence that something I’ve known all along is true: being incurably curious is A GOOD THING!
Here are the 6 surprising benefits of curiosity according to the Greater Good Science Center.
1. CURIOSITY HELPS US SURVIVE
Your brain rewards you for being curious, and that’s a fantastic trade off for human survival! When you encounter something new, your brain releases dopamine, the feel good chemical. That’s incentive to explore and seek novelty.
2. CURIOUS PEOPLE ARE HAPPIER
This goes along with #1. The more dopamine running through you, the happier you feel. The reward of curiosity is shown to create happier people with lower stress levels, higher levels of positive emotions, and a greater sense of well being.
3. CURIOSITY BOOSTS ACHIEVEMENT
According to the Greater Good Science Center, “Studies reveal that curiosity leads to more enjoyment and participation in school and higher academic achievement, as well as greater learning, engagement, and performance at work. It may seem like common sense, but when we are more curious about and interested in what we are doing, it’s easier to get involved, put effort in, and do well.”
4. CURIOSITY CAN EXPAND OUR EMPATHY
Curiosity can lead you to explore outside your social circles and develop deeper levels of understanding people with different lives, experiences, and worldviews than yours. This expands your empathy. Empathy helps us break down the barriers between us and others, and to move into a more peaceful existence. Findings on the positive effects of empathy have been published extensively by the Greater Good Science Center.
5. CURIOSITY HELPS STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS
According to the Greater Good Science Center, “One study asked strangers to pose and answer personal questions, a process scientists call “reciprocal self-disclosure.” They found that people were rated as warmer and more attractive if they showed real curiosity in the exchange (while other variables like the person’s social anxiety and their levels of positive and negative emotions did not affect the partner’s feelings of attraction and closeness). This implies that demonstrating curiosity towards someone is a great way to build your closeness with them.”
6. CURIOSITY IMPROVES HEALTHCARE
Studies involving doctors and patients found that the quality of healthcare improved when doctors held genuine curiosity in their patients. By asking questions and listening more deeply, there was less frustration and ultimately more effective treatment.
So go out into the world with a spirit of wonder and awe, look for the new and unexpected, try things you might never would have tried, and see each person you meet as a gift waiting to be revealed.