Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life

By Todd Kashdan, Ph.D.

A Book Review

Curious by Todd Kashdan explains that we certainly all want to be happy, but perhaps more than that, we yearn for a life of meaning. Living a life of meaning includes the whole spectrum of what it means to be human, the positive and the negative. We find meaning in feeling a sense of purpose, fulfilling relationships, enduring interests and passions, creativity, mastery, and more.

In our quest for meaning we have struggles and challenges. How do we get to that place of meaning and personal growth? According to Kashdan, we are driven toward meaning by the power of curiosity. Curiosity urges us to examine and scrutinize. In doing so, we discover. The more we discover, the more we grow. Curiosity pulls our attention and challenges us to take risks. It encourages our physical, intellectual, emotional and creative development. Without curiosity we can not move forward.

Through science, stories from his therapy practice, as well as his own life experience, Kashdan explains how curiosity brings meaning and purpose to our lives. Acknowledging that all of us are curious in varying degrees, he presents strategies on how we can enhance our natural curiosity. Kashdan explores questions such as “How do we continue to do tasks that are necessary yet bore us? How can we put ourselves in a position where we are more likely to encounter things that interest us?”

If we are going to improve the quality of our life, it is important that we examine how we feel about the things we spend time doing. There are some moments in our day we find naturally engaging, while others can be dull or tiresome. Kashdan explains how we can turn some of these mundane moments into times we enjoy and become absorbed in by looking at the familiar in new ways. We need to “be open and to observe, experiment, play, and revise as needed.” Our goal is to trigger interest. Only when we are interested in something is there potential to spark curiosity.

Anxiety can be deeply debilitating. Diminishing our curiosity, anxiety can keep us from the things we want to do most in life. Yet Kashdan believes we should neither suppress nor hide our anxiety. He suggests that anxiety can be a powerful tool driving us to succeed and propelling our curiosity. “By being more accepting of anxious thoughts and following your curiosity, you allow yourself to be directed toward more fulfilling moments and a more fulfilling life.”

Curiosity strengthens relationships, infuses our work with meaning, transforms moments that feel meaningless, and helps us to be more open-minded, resilient and mindful. For curiosity to lead to a life of meaning, we need to heighten our awareness of wonder in the world around us, our connection to it, and purposefully act on our curiosity.

Want to start being more purposeful about curiosity in the workplace? Check out 100Ninjas’ ideas for igniting curiosity in the workplace and how our Virtual Assistants can help you take action.

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