I am a girl and I read Wired. Yep, I do. I find it fascinating to contemplate just how quickly our lives will change with the advancements in technology. On my recent flight to Moscow, I read an article in Wired talking about how, as a society, we have become incurious. Ian Leslie, the author of “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It”, joked about the fact that although the entire universe can access information for discovery, we use our devices to look at our friends cat pictures and play games.

It is important to note that there is nothing wrong with entertaining ourselves with feline images and avatars, but it made me wonder. As I made my way down to the back of the plane for a mid-flight loo break, I sneak peeked at some screens to see what people were doing, and guess what I saw? Cats!!! Really, I am not kidding.

We Were Born Curious

Have you ever met a toddler that was not curious? Babies are in awe of everything they come into contact with. Paediatricians call the stage from birth to five years the formative years. This is a critical time when most of the intellectual personality is formed by a desire to know “why” and “how” the world works, driving us parents crazy in the process.

After our formative years, some of us maintain our curious nature pressing for answers every step of the way, while others, not so much. The reason might be a case of nature vs. nurture. A positive environment feeds the precocious child, but genetics influence how that child’s curiosity expands beyond the formative years. Is this the reason why we are all not geniuses?

With a few google searches, I wanted to explore whether there are any benefits to being curious, and here is what I found:

Happiness factor: people who genuinely want to learn more about something often experience joy and satisfaction in their discoveries. One of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is curiosity. When we are curious, we experience things differently; we use all our senses to engage in novel experiences and find pleasure in ordinary encounters.

Satisfaction level: people who are more curious live satisfied lives. A curious mind can comfortably leave behind the familiar to take on risks, learn and grow. By tinkering around with the possibilities, we experience what is on the other side of the rainbow, and it gives our lives a new meaning.

Healthy state: we are driven by chemical messengers in our body. When we are happy, our hormones create a healthy, immune state. The reverse is also true. When we are stressed and fearful, we become weak. Studies are also showing a link between people rated more curious and the absence of lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

How to Flex your Curious Muscles

If we don’t have it, we can create it. Like building confidence—curiosity can be nurtured and developed with practice. By consciously exercising the thoughts we want to cultivate–we can intentionally create wonder out of everyday tasks.

Some suggestions to play around with are described, here; see what inspires you to ask, “why?” and then just do it.

Take risks. We are so afraid of being different that even trying a new cuisine seems risqué. Lighten up and try new and uncertain things. Do Karaoke, hike a mountain, or say exactly what’s on your mind. Real meaning comes from these intense moments.

Read. When you do, read real hard-copy books with strong, heartfelt messages. Explore outside familiar topics to see the world and connect to it. If you want to be curious, gaining knowledge is a great place to start.

Discovery vs. all-inclusive holiday. Are you a discovery holiday kind of person or all-inclusive? Taking the packaged-travel deal takes away much of the surprise that makes life’s journeys memorable.

Talk. Join webinars, chatrooms and meetups that incite fresh ideas. Without judging, ask questions of others and try to understand their perspective.

Listen. Listen actively to gain knowledge and forge new connections. Make it a goal to listen without interruptions and then ask follow-up questions.

Learn a new skill. Learn a new language, musical instrument or sport and see how much your eyes open to what you don’t know. For example, when you learn to play the piano, your will hear nuances and notes unrecognisable before.

Explore the Arts: Try something you fancy in the Arts, like painting or photography. Capture moments that will inspire you to think about your chosen images and become more curious.

Observe. Choose to see more in the routine by asking yourself questions. Think of work, family and friends, or things you may have overlooked. For example: what would make your work more exciting? What type of personalities are you drawn to? Why? How does your home décor add vitality to your room? Your answers are likely to inspire you to dig deeper and learn more about that particular topic.