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Why Curiosity Matters: Avoid These 9 Curiosity Killers to Improve Wellbeing

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Curiosity is the spark that ignites our creativity, fuels our passions, and keeps life endlessly fascinating.


Yet, as adults, many of us unintentionally smother this spark with habits and mindsets that stifle our natural inquisitiveness.


Let’s uncover these curiosity killers and explore how we can rekindle our sense of wonder, boost joy and. improve wellbeing.


How does curiosity support wellbeing?

When curiosity is stifled, it affects our happiness, confidence, and overall sense of ease. A curious mind is a happy mind—constantly engaged, excited about learning, and open to new possibilities. Without curiosity, life can become monotonous and unfulfilling, leading to a decline in mental well-being and self-esteem. We stagnate and get stuck in a rut.

 

The Journal of Positive Psychology reported that individuals with higher levels of curiosity tend to have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Specifically, curious individuals are 25% less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and 20% less likely to suffer from depression. (Journal of Positive Psychology, "Curiosity and Mental Health")

 

Curiosity also boosts confidence by encouraging us to take risks and embrace challenges. When we are curious, we are more likely to try new things, which builds resilience and a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, enhances our confidence and willingness to face future challenges - there is adventure to be had just outside your comfort zone!


Finally, curiosity fosters a sense of ease by helping us adapt to change and uncertainty. A curious mind is flexible and open, making it easier to navigate life's ups and downs with grace and optimism - essential for your midlife neurodivergent adventure. So, what is it then that gets in the way of our curiosity?


Perfection Over Experimentation

Striving for perfection can be paralysing. When we're obsessed with getting everything just right, we become afraid to take risks and make mistakes (especially if we have had a lifetime of seeking value through praise for being perfect). Experimentation, on the other hand, thrives on trial and error. By embracing imperfection, we open ourselves up to unexpected discoveries and a deeper understanding of the world around us.


How to break free: Celebrate your mistakes! Each one is a stepping stone to learning something new. Dive into projects with the mindset of a curious explorer rather than a flawless performer. Embrace the freedom that comes messy creativity and dare yourself to take a break from perfect.


Seeking Order and Calm Over Creativity and Innovation

While a tidy, orderly life has its perks, too much structure can stifle spontaneity. Creativity flourishes in spaces where chaos and curiosity are welcome. When we prioritise order and calm above all else, we often miss out on the thrilling rush of creative innovation.


How to break free: Allow some controlled chaos into your routine. Try new things, rearrange your workspace, be spontaneous and invite a little messiness into your creative process.  I know this can be a challenge if you have a mind that seeks safety in order, so go gently with this one and aim to make one small change at a time rather than anything drastic and transformative!


Not Valuing Casual Connection and Chit Chat

We often underestimate the power of casual conversations. I know many of us find small talk painful and dull but seeking out moments of connection with people can lead to big ideas and deeper connections. Dismissing these interactions as unimportant deprives us of the chance to learn from others' experiences and viewpoints.


How to break free: Engage in light-hearted conversations and be genuinely interested in what others have to say. Respond to a comment on social media you find interesting; join a social event at work you may not usually go to or pop along to a local event that has caught your eye and be open to meeting someone new. You never know what insights or inspirations might come from a casual chat.


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Being Over-Scheduled and Rigid

A packed schedule leaves little room for spontaneous curiosity. When every moment is accounted for, there’s no time left to explore new interests or ponder over intriguing questions.


How to break free: Coming from someone who has a love/hate relationship with structure I know others will also find this equally challenging so once again - start small and go gently! Leave some gaps in your schedule for unplanned activities - you can even think of it as "planned spontenatiety" where the time is pre-planned, but the actual activity is left to the roll of a dice. Use this time to follow your interests, read, explore, or simply daydream.


Conforming to Traditional Values of What to Study and Learn

Society often dictates what is considered worthwhile to learn, steering us towards conventional subjects and away from our true passions. This conformity can dull our natural curiosity. We conform to expectations of investing our time and attention to subjects that others see as more worthy whilst leaving no time or energy for what really lights us up.

 

A survey by Pew Research Center found that 87% of lifelong learners believe that their curiosity drives them to continue learning new skills and knowledge. Furthermore, 74% of these learners feel more fulfilled and happier as a result of their continuous learning efforts. Pew Research Center, "The Impact of Curiosity on Lifelong Learning"

 

How to break free: Pursue what genuinely fascinates you, regardless of its perceived practicality or prestige. Enrol in that quirky online course or pick up a book on an obscure topic that piques your interest. You can start small and experiment with short and cheap or free courses and see where your curiosity takes you.


Overvaluing Achievement

When we place too much emphasis on achievements, we lose sight of the joy in the learning process. The pressure to achieve can make us fearful of exploring new areas where we might not excel immediately. Continuously pursuing that next certificate whilst not leaving time and space for applying or integrating learning can also feel unsatisfying and frustrating


How to break free: Focus on the journey rather than the destination. Appreciate the process of learning and growing, and recognise that every step forward is an achievement in itself. Let there be time for you to ut all the wonderful things you have discovered into practice and reflect on the impact of this new understanding before diving into learning something new.


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Settling for the First Answer You’re Given

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to accept the first answer we find and move on. However, true curiosity lies in digging deeper and questioning further. In so many ways we are living in a time that is data rich and insight poor; where we can apparently find answers at the tip of a google search page without taking the time to pause and wonder if that is the only answer or even the right answer.


How to break free: Cultivate a habit of asking “why” and “how.” Challenge initial answers and seek out multiple perspectives to gain a more comprehensive understanding. Get curious about the sources of information and influence you are exposed to and challenge if they have an agenda outside simple provision of information. Consider where bias may be sneaking in, especially where you may have your own unconscious biases at play.


Staying Safe and Comfortable

Comfort zones are great! They are safe, cosy, comfy and nothing unpredictable ever happens there - perfect if you want everything to stay exactly as it is... Which is why comfort zones are the enemy of curiosity. While it’s natural to seek safety (and many of us with trauma are hardcoded to seek safety), staying in our comfort zones prevents us from exploring the unknown and discovering new passions.


How to break free: You don't need to bust down the walls of your comfort zone to initiate change, but I will invite you to stretch it and explore beyond its boundaries regularly. Try new activities, visit unfamiliar places, and engage with people outside your usual circle. It's also time well spent to make sure your comfort zone is as comfy as possible so you have a nice safe place to land after adventures beyond it. So make sure you are investing in restorative, nurturing practices that support you to feel safe and grounded.


Check out the Dark Moon Club for some powerful self-connection practices that will help you to explore beyond the comfort zone, and make it a super safe place for you to come back to.


Not Actively and Intentionally Being Curious

Curiosity requires intentional effort. Passively waiting for curiosity to strike often means it won’t! Actively seeking out new experiences and knowledge keeps our curiosity alive and thriving. This is a skill we have in abundance as children (asking 40,000+ questions between the ages of 2-5!) but in adults, it becomes something we have to actively work at because we have become so accustomed to a life of conformity which does not require us to be curious - in fact, it discourages it.


How to break free: Set curiosity goals. Make a list of things you want to learn about or experiences you want to try, and actively pursue them. Challenge yourself to challenge your beliefs - where do they come from and who benefits from you believing these things? Ask what else is also true and what is a deeper truth you could seek out beyond the easy to find surface level answers. Trust in your awakening curiosity and let it guide you.


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Curiosity fosters a sense of ease by helping us adapt to change and uncertainty. A curious mind is flexible and open, making it easier to navigate life's ups and downs with grace and optimism.


So, let’s cherish our curiosity and nurture it with the same care and attention we give to our other essential needs. Embrace experimentation, welcome chaos, value casual connections, and always stay eager to learn and explore. Your happiness, confidence, and sense of ease will thank you for it as you improve your wellbeing with increased curiosity.


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