How Can We Encourage Curiosity?

Curiosity is an important trait to have for any healthy human. How can we make sure that we are as curious as possible?

There are many ways that curiosity helps us, and there are also ways that a lack of it can hurt us.

For instance, being curious about our environment is how we learn as children. We wonder about about the things around us, and that helps us with motor skills, language, reasoning, and other developmental skills.

It also helps us continue our education, both formally and informally. Formally through school and from teachers, and informally as we read on our own and in the hobbies we pursue.

To see how a lack of curiosity can hurt us, look no further than today’s political climate. Most people are content in echo feedback chambers, listening to opinions that mirror their own. They seek out news outlets that confirm their own viewpoint, and may even choose friends the same way.

One way out of this problem is to be curious about people you disagree with. Do you dismiss them out of hand, or do you wonder why they have another opinion? Being curious about something different — different religion, political party, skin color, native language,  and so on — allows us to be more understanding.

Curiosity can also lead to better mental health. As we age, learning about things you don’t already know keeps our brains flexible. It can help our own health as well as helping society at large.

So those are some of the benefits. But what are the specific methods we can employ to achieve these positive outcomes? What can we do in our everyday lives to encourage curiosity?

Related questions: How do you learn? What does it mean to be healthy? How do you adopt new ideas? How can we maintain wonder?

Who Do You Want To Be?

An important part of self-improvement is having a road map to follow. In other words, who do you want to be?

It is hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. Thus, in order to get to the place you want to go to — that is, the person you want to be — it is crucial to know in advance who that is.

Maybe you feel it best to be a good partner, or parent (or grandparent), or maybe a good employee. You might want to be the kind of person who reads every day, or someone who sees the world. The possibilities are nearly endless.

One way to determine which traits you wish to have or to develop is to look for role models. If there are people around you who behave the way you want to behave, try to figure out what it is that helped them get there. You may even want to ask them.

There are also many books extolling one virtue or another. You may want to read up on someone you admire, to see what makes them tick. How do they lead a creative life, or make money, or increase empathy, or whatever you wish to emulate?

Once you decide on what you wish to improve, there is the secondary task of actually doing it. If you think that, for example, punctuality is important, ask yourself: how can I be more punctual?

Reaching your potential, and becoming the person you desire to be requires that you put some thought (and eventually some planning) in place. Who do you want to be?

Related questions: How do you set priorities? How do you want to be remembered? Who are your role models? What does it mean to be a good person?

How Have Your Parents Influenced You?

The parent-child relationship is an important one for most people. Can you think of ways you have been influenced by your parents?

The first relationship that we have is with our mother, followed shortly by our father. For most people, they remain of primary importance throughout our development and into adolescence.

Because of this, the relationship we have with our parents helps to define who we are, what we believe, and often how we think and what we like.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What gives a person value?’


Of course, that fact might also lead to problems. There is a reason that many therapy sessions deal with understanding the way we were treated growing up, and how it might impact our behavior as adults. Additionally, many people end up with romantic partners that have behaviors similar to a parent.

Some people have a complicated relationship with their mother and/or their father. Even if you don’t, you can probably trace some of your likes and dislikes, as well as some of your beliefs, to one or both of your parents.

How have your parents influenced you?

Related questions: How are you just like your parents? Why do we like what we like? What makes you you? What is your favorite childhood memory?

What Is Genius?

The word “genius” gets used often these days. But what exactly is genius, and how can you tell it when you see it?

Either a person or an idea can be referred to as “genius”. Typically for a person, it might refer to someone with a particularly high IQ. This can be measured via an IQ test, and at least in theory, can be quantified.

However, it is also used in other contexts. For example, someone might be called a musical or artistic genius. Is there any possible way this can be measured? Is there some sort of threshold to be labeled as such in a creative field? Or is it entirely subjective?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes you you?’


When the word is used to describe a creative person, is it used for someone with a high level of expertise in a very specific field, or to someone with a broad skill set? That is, which is more of a musical genius: a guitar virtuoso, or someone who can play a dozen different instruments with a relatively high level of skill? Or perhaps both are?

If both, are we in danger of making the definition of the word so broad that it loses meaning? If everyone can be called a genius (in their own way), does the word cease to mean anything?

How do you use the word? Do you use it frequently, or know people who do? Does it simply mean “I think this is really great” or is it more than that?

What is genius?

Related questions: How can we measure intelligence? What is intelligence? How important are important people? How important is the artist to art?

How Have You Been Impacted By The Place Or Time Of Your Birth?

There are many factors that make one individual different from another. One of those factors might be the location or the time of your birth. What do you think about yours?

There is no doubt that each person is unique, set apart from all the others by their experiences as well as by their DNA. It is also true that we human beings like to celebrate birthdays. Are those two things related?

Certainly, fans of astrology like to believe that the stars in the sky at the time of your birth, and possibly the position of the planets as well, determine your personality. That’s why, they say, a Gemini is different from an Aries.

Rationally, it is hard to imagine the mechanism which would allow stars to have that kind of impact. However, there may be a more earthbound explanation. Could the time of your of your birth impact your development? Does a child born in the winter have a different development curve than one born in summer? Is a spring baby different from an autumn baby?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What gives a person value?’


Similarly, does the geographic location have any sort of long-term impact on an individual? In a very simple way, this must be true — a baby born in a country that has a lower infant mortality rate is more likely to grow to adulthood.

But what about more subtle differences? Does the simple act of being born in Seattle make for a different experience than being born in Atlanta? Is being born in a hospital drastically different from being born at home?

Or are the differences instead due to childhood development that comes later in life? Does it matter more where someone lives at, say, five years old than where they were at birth?

Most of us know, with a great level of certainty, exactly when and where we were born. Do those facts say anything in particular about us as people?

Related questions: What makes a community? Why do you live where you live? How many times did you move as a child? Birthday: Celebrate or not?