Curiosity is often discussed as something that’s “natural”: A trait that some people (and animals) have had since birth. But it’s not that simple.
Curiosity is also a skill. Like other skills, it comes easily to some people more than others, and with some work, it can be improved over time. If you’re interested in developing your curiosity—which also happens to be an increasingly sought-after career skill—here are a few ways to do it.
How to become more curious
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Whether or not you consider yourself “naturally” curious, these strategies might help jumpstart that type of thinking:
Figure out what motivates you
Or perhaps a better way of looking at it is to figure out what genuinely excites you, or brings you some level of joy, or even contentment. Is there anything that causes you to completely lose track of time because you find it so interesting? If so, explore it further, and make an effort to learn something new. This, at least in theory, should allow you to experience the feeling of being curious about something, and have a better idea of how you got there.
If you’re not in the habit of asking questions as a way of making conversation, it might feel weird or possibly intrusive at first—even if they’re not about anything personal. So when the time, place, and subject is appropriate, make an effort to ask someone questions for the purpose of learning more about something. Keep the questions open-ended, and get deeper into a subject by asking “why.”
Being stuck in a routine can leave little room for curiosity. It’s easy to allow our brains to switch to auto-pilot, and tune out any new thoughts. Fortunately, there are a few ways around this.
First, you can tune in (instead of out) during part of your routine—like your commute. Maybe instead of listening to a podcast, you pay attention to what you’re passing along the way, trying to discover things you’ve never noticed before. If something new or unfamiliar catches your eye, you might find yourself being curious about what it is, how long it has been there, etc.
Another strategy is to switch things up, and take another route to work, for example. Again, pay attention to your surroundings, and you may come across something that sparks your interest, prompting you to actually want to learn more. Once you get used to observing your environment, noticing new things, and then learning about them, you may find yourself doing it out of habit.