Curious cats tackle tough tasks

Don’t disrespect Felix or Tom: The drive to learn is one characteristic of successful people

Special to The TribuneNovember 12, 2013 

MCT

Curiosity may have killed cats, but it’s considered a vital component to human health and well-being.  Dictionary.com  defines curiosity as the desire to learn or know about something. It’s a quality related to inquisitive thinking and exploration and is evident in both people and animals. Curiosity has been closely linked to intelligence. Scientists from the University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital discovered a small portion of the brain that stimulates exploratory behavior (curiosity) and gave mice superior memory for complex tasks.

It’s also a common attribute for success. According to Thane Stenner, founder of the Canadabased Stenner Investment Partners and best-selling author of “True Wealth: An Expert Guide to High-Net-Worth Individuals (And Their Advisors),” the uncommonly well-to-do are “intellectually curious. They love to learn. They look for insights, always a better way of doing things … an edge.”

A study published in Perspectives in Psychological Science found that curiosity and conscientiousness were better predictors of academic and long-term success than high IQ or test scores. Sophie von Stumm, one of the authors of the study, says, “If you’re intellectually curious, you’ll go home, you’ll read the books. If you’re perceptually curious, you might go traveling to different countries and try different foods.”

This information has far-reaching implications in the job market. Employers aren’t looking for workers who possess a single skill but have no desire to explore further challenges. According to von Stumm, they’re far more interested in “those people who have the greatest potential for development, i.e. the curious ones.”

Curiosity is a natural state. Children ask endless questions. They inherently want to make sense of their worlds.

Curiosity also impacts our physical and emotional health. People who are engaged and inquisitive are happier and more open minded. They feel as though they’re in control.

So whatever your age or stage of life, ask questions. Learn more. Wonder why.

SEVEN WAYS TO STAY CURIOUS

Learn something new. Tackle a current technology. Take a class at the adult school. Read an article about a fascinating topic. You’ll fill your mind with novel ideas. You’ll discover further avenues to pursue.

Surround yourself with interesting people. Curiosity is contagious. Their sharp minds will stimulate animated discussion. The social contacts will encourage lifelong friendships.

Ask lots of questions. There’s always plenty to learn. Every topic can be infinitely explored. Allow your mind to wonder who, why, when, what and how. Then go figure out the answer.

Never get bored. Boredom isn’t a state of deprivation. It’s a sign of mental stagnation. Rather than feeling despondent, log back into life and regain your connection.

Keep an open mind. Sure, you have your opinions. But wonder what others think, too. Consider a wide array of options. Each one has its merit.

Join a discussion group. Form your own book group. Attend a political rally. Participate in a religious forum. Your horizons will be expanded as you’re exposed to scintillating ideas.

Visit sources of knowledge. There are so many places to learn. Check out fascinating websites. Go to an art museum. Catch “NOVA” on PBS. Tour historic towns. You’ll be filled with new facts. And oh-so-inspired to learn more.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit http://lindalewisgriffith.com.

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