What are some underrated joys

Curiosity: the underestimated trait for success

Knowledge is power. But ignorance can be just as powerful because it arouses our curiosity. At least for most of them. Curiosity - that is the hunger for knowledge, coupled with the willingness to be surprised, to be amazed, to get involved in new things, to learn. Without this quality, this thirst for knowledge, there would be hardly any experiments, innovations or progress. However, this original human trait is extremely fragile: ignorance unsettles just as many people. And the insecurity and the resulting (social) fear then block curiosity again - a vicious circle arises ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Is curiosity a feeling?

What is curiosity anyway? In curiosity or curiosity (synonym of curiosity) there is already greed, i.e. violent, excessive desire. Psychologists see one of six basic emotions in curiosity: curiosity, disgust, joy, fear, anger, sadness. In addition to joy, it is the one feeling that also has a positive meaning. Some see curiosity as the desire or motivation to consciously expose themselves to new and unfamiliar situations and ways of thinking. Others define curiosity as instinct, as a basic drive - consisting of a drive component, an affect component and a behavioral component. You could also say: curiosity leads to a state of flow. Ultimately, there is also a willingness to change, to learn new things. Because the interest and openness to new things - new experiences and new insights - will inevitably influence us.

How does curiosity arise?

Scientists believe that curiosity is innate. Both humans and animals have this property. Even small children have this insatiable thirst for knowledge. They soak up everything the world has to offer, are curious, eager to learn, want to get to the bottom of things, uncover secrets, ask questions - even some that can annoy parents or cause real difficulties of explanation. Children know neither conventions nor taboos.

Why is curiosity important?

But with age, many people lose their curiosity. They also know more and more, but it first makes them smart, then precocious, and finally complacent. In this way they block numerous opportunities and, last but not least, their own personal development. Challenges, a turbulent life, adventure - that promises not only fun, but also uncertainties, risks, dangers, mistakes, failures. Curiosity forces flexibility and trains adaptability. Not everyone wants that.

Some researchers suspect that the need for new stimuli, for spontaneity and variety is overshadowed by the even stronger need for security and idyll, for control and security (keyword: comfort zone). What is unpredictable scares many adults - unlike children. The main thing is that everything stays the same. It's a shame actually. Because the result and opposite of curiosity is boredom.

Is curiosity positive or negative?

In any case, curiosity is a double-edged sword. The British-Canadian psychologist Daniel Ellis Berlyne distinguishes between the following forms:

Epistemic curiosity: This form of curiosity is knowledge-based. For example, a person mentally engages in problem solving and realizes that certain information is still missing. According to Berlyne, this curiosity serves as a guide. The desire is so strong because people need to understand their situation.

Perceptual curiosity: In contrast, there is perceptual or perceptual curiosity. It describes a person's desire to try new things. This curiosity stems from reflexes and sensations and is also known as manipulative or interpersonal curiosity (interest in other people).

Too much curiosity is dangerous

Anyone who describes curiosity as positive or negative evaluates the feeling. Various (warning) sayings are inevitably associated with curiosity.

Curiosity killed the cat.

The English saying (in German, for example, “Curiosity is the death of the cat” / “Curiosity has killed the cat”) already indicates that an overly great desire to find out something can be dangerous. And curiosity can have fatal consequences. Curiosity leads to the fact that hands land on hot stoves, that people seek temptation, cheat, take drugs and daringly plunge into ruin. Curiosity can also make you cocky, distant and cheeky. It was also curiosity that led mythological figures to open Pandora's box. Scientists therefore call the phenomenon the “Pandora effect” when, contrary to express warnings and against all common sense, people still look for mischief with open eyes.

What is the difference between curiosity and interest?

Often terms such as interest and thirst for knowledge appear synonymous with curiosity. The terms cannot always be clearly separated from one another. The motivation of the curious person should be decisive. Why does she want to know something? And the subject: What is your particular focus on? Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach was already of the opinion: "If curiosity is directed towards serious things, then it is called a thirst for knowledge."

Wanting to hear the latest gossip from the world of celebrities can hardly be equated with the desire to understand the universe. The former stands for superficial participation in social events. The latter is guided by the desire for knowledge. Serious interest in exploring things leads to expertise. Depending on the characteristics, curiosity can inspire new discoveries that lead to innovations. Or it leads people to stick their noses into things that are none of their business.

Arouse curiosity: is that even possible?

Awakening curiosity - that is the core concern of every cover letter, every application photo, every first meeting or flirt. And so most of them start a series of (nicely meant) manipulation attempts to make others curious about themselves or their cause. With mostly moderate success.

Ultimately, you may be able to arouse short-term interest in your counterpart. But whether the person is or becomes really curious ultimately depends on the person himself. In fact, curiosity takes place less in the head than many think. Nor can it be created at will. It is a quality that one has and can learn, but also unlearn again.

However, you can figure out those obstacles in your head that stand in the way of curiosity. First observe and explore the interplay of thoughts, emotions and sensations: How do you and your body react to new, unusual and unskilled things: with pleasure - or rather with restraint and suspicion? "Somatic Mindfulness" is the name of this self-exploration in technical terms. You will not only find out what experiences and what expectations are there, but also why you may be closing down mentally and not being curious at all.

Blocked curiosity: an example

Curiosity only takes place in the here and now. Past experiences and future expectations that sparkle into the here and now can block curiosity. Therefore, a first step towards more curiosity is to explore and sort out what is floating around in your head. Suppose you get an email from the boss - the highest priority level, he would like to speak to you today. Unfortunately, he doesn't say what it's about. Could be good, could be bad ... you don't know. Whether you are curious and open towards the executive office depends on two important parameters:

Experience: Once at school you were called to the headmaster's room. A classmate told you about it and you got in a lot of trouble at the time.

Expectation: For some time now, rumors have been circulating in the company that the company is not doing well financially. There may be layoffs or short-time working.

Of course, these are all mere assumptions. But you can already see what is happening in the head of the person concerned. As soon as these thoughts start to circle, the openness and curiosity are over. Instead, fear and stress take over - and you expect the worst ... This is an extreme example, but it works similarly on a small scale.

Curious? Curiosity extends life

Our brain is programmed to be curious. Evolution has shown it: Humans are constantly developing, our brain thirsts for new stimuli, for learning new things. We should and want to grow. It is no coincidence that we even develop ambitions and ambitions from this. Curiosity is an essential engine for growth and knowledge. And an underrated trait for success.

When British and Swiss researchers evaluated the data of around 50,000 students, they found that the intelligence quotient (IQ) was less important for academic success than assumed. Curiosity was much more important. Students who only had a mediocre IQ, but were open to new things, performed significantly better.

The American psychology professor Todd Kashdan from George Mason University found that curious people find contact with others more quickly and easily. As a result, not only did they have more friends and a more stable network - they were also happier and more satisfied with life.

Even more: A long-term study in which around 2000 seniors between 60 and 86 years were involved came out: Curiosity gave the test subjects a significantly higher life expectancy. Even regardless of risk factors such as smoking, unhealthy diet or illnesses.

Curiosity: why they suppress some

Although curiosity is one of the most primordial, natural, and fundamental human skills, these people learn to suppress it again at an early age. They give up the urge to research and develop and only think in drawers and templates because it is more convenient: I already know, I know, I've already seen it myself, it's all cold coffee ... Fatal! Because people like this stop mentally at some point, their minds move as if they were trudging through fast-hardening cement.

Perhaps this lies in the origin of curiosity: If you are not currently working in a research department, in science or in journalism, you tend to associate curiosity in a professional context with terms such as: naive, childish, inexperienced. And of course these are not exactly qualities that are in demand in today's professional life. Instead, job advertisements all over the world emphasize attributes like assertive, experienced, well-versed. In the job, solid specialist knowledge and a strict ratio are often more important than the joy of experimentation, spontaneity and openness to new things. But maybe it is also due to some of the experiences (see above) that we gained with our curiosity in childhood.

Benefits of curiosity

Anyone who, as a child, was more likely to receive reprimands and punishments for being too curious, inevitably becomes cautious with age. The once healthy curiosity is now being turned into its opposite. This is first filtered, analyzed, checked and evaluated. Better safe than sorry. Too bad. Because curiosity is a cardinal virtue, an essential engine for success. Those who remain curious will ...

➠ discovers a new world every day.
➠ remains open-minded and tolerant.
➠ becomes interesting and personable to others.
➠ has authenticity and presence.
➠ inspires with fresh ideas and thoughts.
➠ finds abbreviations and discovers new territory.
➠ makes new friends and expands his network.
➠ doesn't get on the defensive that quickly.
➠ becomes more confident.

How curiosity and success are related

Curiosity and knowledge go hand in hand. You can't stay curious without learning something. And to pass this knowledge on again at some point. Perhaps - but that is only one thesis - there is no real and successful expert who has not remained curious at the same time. Three essential characteristics can be recognized in successful people:

self reflection

Success - as far as the general definition is concerned - means achieving one's personal goals. To do this, however, you have to know them first. This assumes that you know your strengths and weaknesses and align your goals accordingly. But self-reflection also includes making decisions more consciously and learning more from mistakes (which means analyzing them in order not to commit them twice and leaving them behind you emotionally). Those who do this are usually more optimistic about their future, because they don't feel powerless at the mercy of it.


Having a clear goal does not automatically make you successful. What successful people have in common, however, is that they can name their goals in a structured and specific manner. Quite a few even write them down - as is the case with managers, whose objectives are agreed in measurable numbers. In addition, these are not long-term goals, but a chain of short-term goals that ultimately lead to a larger whole. So these people work their way from milestone to milestone, experience partial success after partial success and stay motivated on top of that.


And there she is again. Successful people don't just learn - they want to learn. As much as possible. The driving force behind this is their curiosity: why is that so? What did others do in the situation? What are the characteristics of successful people? The interests of these people are always multidisciplinary: They are open to politics, management, sport and religion, are just as interested in the stock market as they are in educational issues, in cooking or psychology. You may not have a doctorate, but you are doing a doctorate on practically all aspects of life.

4 tips for more curiosity

As already said above: Curiosity is already in you - from an early age. You may have just forgotten it a little. The good news is: you can learn it again and arouse curiosity. For example with these tips:

Try something new.

And quite consciously and every day. For example, take a new route to work, don't have lunch in the canteen, but discover a new restaurant - maybe something exotic. Eat new foods, cook differently. And talk to a few strangers in the bar in the evening. Over time, not only will you lose your fear of new things, but you will also find numerous new and useful experiences in it.

Read more.

We don't just mean blogs or websites, but above all books: novels, non-fiction and specialist literature. Many successful people read a new book every week. You can do that. And you will find that you learn a lot from it - and become more curious.

Question the familiar.

Over time, routines, half-knowledge and traditions creep into everyday life, motto: "We have always done it this way!" Remind yourself to question these things and look less for reasons why something doesn't work. Do not ask: "Why?"but rather "Why not?" You know: if you want something, you will find ways; Who does not want something, finds reasons.

Keep moving.

Not just physically, but above all mentally. Curiosity lets us try things - regardless of rules, customs or our age. You can learn, move, travel or discover new hobbies even in old age. Which would be worse: that you failed or never tried to achieve your dreams?

Sure, curiosity isn't always rewarded. But in retrospect, everyone will probably confirm that the willingness to take risks and courage have led to greater satisfaction and a more colorful life.

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