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Curiosity: A cure for ageing

The thing about ‘curiosity’ is that it’s one of those infinite words that has movement in its meaning. Without curiosity there would be no questions and without questions there would be no answers. And that’s pretty much where curiosity fits in – somewhere between trying new things and finding new things. It’s the driving force behind the ‘why’ and the ‘how.’ Even our friend Albert Einstein credits curiosity for his own ingenuity – “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious,” he said. Little did Albert know at the time that curiosity would play an integral part in medical research of the modern world – particularly in how long we live. Today, researchers are now linking some of the first signs of mental deterioration to the gradual decline of curiosity – or the mind’s eagerness to seek. Adults over the age of 60 who asked more questions in a study that would last approximately 5 years were more likely to be in excellent shape, mentally, by the time the study was concluded, than those adults who asked no questions at all. In fact, medical professionals have gone insofar as to claim that harnessing a curious mind has the ability to reverse hypertension and/or diabetes. So before we bypass this word as nothing more than just, well – a word – let’s pay it some homage for its ability to keep the mind, body and soul in good health. Here’s 5 Good Reasons to keep you Curious: Mind set The phrase “That looks really hard, I’ll never be able to do that,” VS the one that says ,“That looks interesting, let me try” – is the simple difference between a complacent mind set and a curious mind set, both of which lead to varying lifestyle choices. Having a curious mind set invites more opportunity into our lives and can lead to us finding fulfilment in things we didn’t know we could love. This increases the surge on serotonin in our brains (the happy hormone) which is responsible for sustained wellbeing. Performance Forbes calls ‘curiosity’ a “workplace asset” because it not only rivals intelligence through having that intuitive drive to learn more, but also studies have shown that curiosity is linked to greater tolerance, noncritical attitudes, unconventional thinking and- get this- a sense of humour! These qualities make for fantastic leaders, innovators and more well-rounded people in general. Happiness While we might typically associate curiosity more so with innovation, education, research and accomplishments; studies have also shown its positive effect on overall personal happiness. Dr Todd Kashdan, author of Curious? Discover the missing ingredient to a fulfilling life? says “Contrary to conventional thinking, searching for happiness, certainty, and safety often gets in the way of the fulfilment we want.” When we are open to new experiences and when we relish the unknown, positive events linger longer and we extract more pleasure and meaning from them. Enter Serotonin, again. Relationships Psychology professor, Dr Maria Kangas from Macquarie Universty in Australia says, “Curious people connect with others on a far deeper level, including strangers. They ask questions, then actively listen and absorb the information instead of just waiting for their turn to speak. The result is they become more empathetic and better able to understand and accept different viewpoints, experiences and lives to their own.” This means that there’s an element of empathy to curiosity, too, which is key in maintaining good relationships. Learning Curiosity makes us better learners! Many studies have shown that if curiosity is engaged, subject matter is remembered and absorbed more significantly and efficiently. When we decide to be curious ourselves, we begin to enjoy what we are seeking to learn and therefore our retention of knowledge and ease of practice is more effective. Without ‘curiosity’ there’d be no solutions at all to anything, nor any evolution, discovery, expansion and problem solving. If it’s a fulfilled life (and a longer life) of learning and leading we’re all after, then it seems, undoubtedly, we’ve had the answer all along. #staycurious

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