How to flex your curiosity muscle

Incitements to inquiry: how to flex your curiosity muscle

REFRAME “BORING” SITUATIONS. If you’ve got an inquiring mind, it’s possible to turn even mundane events, like waiting in line at the DMV, into something meaningful. Look for details others might miss, and seek to learn more about them. For instance, try turning to another customer in line and saying, “I noticed the Purple Heart pinned to your jacket. What war did you serve in?”

DON’T LET FEAR STOP YOU FROM TRYING SOMETHING NEW. “If you’re curious about something, it acts as a positive counterweight to anxiety and fear,” Silvia says. Exercising your curiosity won’t wipe out doubt, but it may help you focus on the likely positive consequences of a new venture (learning to execute a perfect swan dive) rather than the negative ones (doing a belly flop and surfacing to the sound of laughter).

LET YOUR TRUE PASSIONS SHINE. A key component of curiosity is what Boston College psychologist Ellen Winner calls a “rage to master”–whether that involves accumulating rejection slips from The New Yorker or spending hours in the basement learning banjo fingerings. An intense focus on specific interests or goals invites the state of mental immersion called “flow,” which in turn elicits feelings of accomplishment and well-being.

COPYRIGHT 2006 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group