Curiosity promotes lifelong well-being

Curiosity is a hallmark of humanity. We ask questions, we frequent museums, we cross oceans. We’re hungry for the unknown. Merriam-Webster defines curiosity as “the desire to know, inquisitive interest in others’ concerns, interest leading to inquiry.” It’s this exploratory mechanism that researchers Todd Kashdan and Michael Steger studied in the hopes of possibly uncovering a link between curiosity and high, sustainable levels of well-being. To do this, they studied people high in “trait curiosity” to see if they derived considerably more well-being on days where they felt exceptionally curious.

Curiosity & our sense of meaning

The researchers concluded that on days when the participants felt more curious, people in high trait curiosity reported more frequent growth-oriented behaviors, felt a greater sense of meaning, sought for the feeling of purpose and experienced an overall increase in life satisfaction. A heightened sense of curiosity indicated higher levels of fulfillment across participants from one day to the next, as well.

What did you learn today?

What does this mean for individuals who seek a greater sense of daily well-being? Whether you’re on the curious side of the spectrum or not, becoming aware of the unknown each day, and making a goal to learn something new—whether this means finally taking those piano lessons, or exposing yourself to a different culture and environment—could do the trick. Often we get so stuck in our routines that our proclivities for exploration go dormant. When was the last time you were caught in awe at the wonderful complexity of the world?