Curiosity Killed the Cat


Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.

― Arnold Edinborough

At the heart of healthy rebellion is Curiosity—inquisitiveness, a thirst for knowledge, open-mindedness. Einstein once said (unbelievably, really), “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” He went on to say that “the important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” When you approach a situation, person, or project with curiosity, you engage with openness, marvel, and respect. A curious mindset allows you to look at things with innocence and a willingness to learn, not merely to categorize.

"Psychoelasticity—How Curiosity Cultivates Leadership" | SAGATICA

I have always been a curious person, preferring to ask questions rather than taking someone's word for it. Why? Well, what if they're wrong? Or what if they simply don't have all of the information? My curiosity derives not from a quest to be right, but from a desire to be well-informed. I want to expand my worldview. I want to know more.

My passion for information hasn't always been well received. I grew up in an environment where my belief system was rigorously controlled. I was expected to follow spoon-fed dogma, and adversly, wasn't given room to draw my own conclusions. And let me tell you, if I had the audacity to question those beliefs, I was quickly reminded of my rebellion and how it was a sin against the very nature of God.

Yet, sinner that I was, I couldn't help my curious mind. Talk to any toddler, and you'll be reminded that "Why?" is one of the first questions humans learn. It's one syllable, it's easy to pronounce (in English, anyway), and it's open-ended—only leading to more questions.

It's human nature to want to understand the world around us, to somehow make sense of it all—and that should never be misconstrued as a bad thing. Asking questions doesn't hurt anyone. In fact, it might even make for a more fulfilling life.

One of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity. That’s because curiosity—a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something—creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy and delight.

Curiosity is something that can be nurtured and developed. With practice, we can harness the power of curiosity to transform everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences. We can also use curiosity to intentionally create wonder, intrigue and play out of almost any situation or interaction we encounter.

It all starts with wanting to know more.

"The Power of Curiosity" | By Todd Kashdan | Experience Life

"When we experience curiosity, we are willing to leave the familiar and routine and take risks, even if it makes us feel anxious and uncomfortable," Kashdan writes in his book. "Curious explorers are comfortable with the risks of taking on new challenges. Instead of trying desperately to explain and control our world, as a curious explorer we embrace uncertainty, and see our lives as an enjoyable quest to discover, learn and grow."

"5 Benefits Of Being A Curious Person" | By Leigh Weingus | Huffington Post

All things considered, the benefits of curiosity far outweigh the possible risks. Cultivating this strength can lead to both personal and professional rewards. So how might we go about developing this strength? One idea comes from the work by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founders of the field of positive psychology and a pioneering researcher in the area of flow.

According to Cskikszentmihalyi, there is a direct relationship between our attentional resources and our interest in the world: Nothing is interesting to us unless we focus our attention on it. Rocks are not interesting until we begin collecting them, people in the mall are not interesting until we become curious about their lives and where they are going, and vacuum cleaners are not interesting until we need to buy a new one. According to Csikszentmihalyi, we can develop our curiosity (and fight boredom) by making a conscious effort to direct our attention to something in particular in our environment.

"Curious about Curiosity?" | By Ben Dean Ph.D. | University of Pennsylvania

Psychologists know that “secure attachments”—close, positive relationships such as healthy marriages and good friendships—increase our interest in new experiences. Babies who have learned they can count on their moms, for example, tend to try unfamiliar toys in a lab more readily than do babies whose insecure attachment to caregivers makes them anxious and clingy. A recent set of studies published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reveals a surprising explanation for this attachment-exploration link: feeling alive and full of energy.

Research participants who recalled a close positive relationship from their lives were later more willing to opt for novel activities like foreign travel—and to report heightened vitality—than participants who had thought about a negative relationship or even a sitcom character. “In insecure relationships, people have to resolve negative emotions because their needs haven't been met, and having to do that can be emotionally draining,” explains lead author Michelle Luke of the University of Southampton in England.

"Strong Partnerships Fuel Curiosity" | By Marina Krakovsky | Scientific American | June 7, 2012

CQ stands for Curiosity Quotient and concerns having a hungry mind. People with higher CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences. They find novelty exciting and are quickly bored with routine. They tend to generate many original ideas and are counter-conformist. It has not been as deeply studied as EQ [Emotional Quotient] and IQ [Intellectual Quotient], but there’s some evidence to suggest it is just as important when it comes to managing complexity in two major ways. First, individuals with higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity. This nuanced, sophisticated, subtle thinking style defines the very essence of complexity. Second, CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art (note: this is of course different from IQ’s measurement of raw intellectual horsepower). Knowledge and expertise, much like experience, translate complex situations into familiar ones, so CQ is the ultimate tool to produce simple solutions for complex problems.

"Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence" | By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic | Harvard Business Review | August 27, 2014

ZZ Cat dares curiosity to try.

Although I'm a creature of habit, the one place I've always taken risks is my attitude toward the world. I've been a skeptic from a very young age, despite the box I was conditioned to fit in. Questions weren't allowed to be asked because the interrogator didn't appreciate where they were leading.

But again, I've always been this way. I've always wanted information, discussion, proof. We're all wrong from someone's point of view, and no one is right all the time. I'd much rather study someone else's perspective and try to understand how they got there than be right. Imagine how much I would lose out on if I settled for being right?

It's okay that curiosity killed the cat, since it has nine lives anyway and other ridiculous cliches. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more information. People won't always like it, but you can't control what other people think. Just as they have no right to dictate what you think. Suggestions are one thing, but if someone is outright trying to control every aspect of your life, you have the freedom to say no and change your situation.

Look out, Cat—here I come.

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

— Voltaire



Iggy Pop

Curiosity killed the cat
But satisfaction brought it back
In terms of this cat
As a matter of fact
I'll meet you at the old mouse hole