Researchers found that allowing oneself to be curious leads to increased brain function, better memory, and heightened creativity which could help fuel a more prosperous life.
We all want to succeed in life and make all our dreams come true. It is what drives humans, spurning creativity and innovation. This desire to succeed fuels the self-help industry, which boasts waves of books, talk shows, news headlines, and training events. But what if the only secret ingredient you need to live a successful life is – curiosity?
That’s right. According to scientists, this one trait is all you need. But how can the answer to life’s happiness be so simple? There are two ways curiosity can lead you to succeed.
The first is in your personal life. According to research, adding intriguing elements into your day will prime your brain, making it ready to learn. It will also improve your creativity.
Even better is how it improves your work experience. Curiosity at work reduces the risk of burnout while increasing enjoyment and engagement of tasks at hand. And it is an idea that companies can encourage without dramatic shifts in work culture.
While this all sounds good, it still doesn’t offer tangible reasons why curiosity can help you succeed in life. Now, you could take the leap into a curious lifestyle and seek out research studies on your own. Thankfully, for those skeptics amongst us, BBC recently published a news article on the latest studies.
What they found is fascinating. In one recent experiment, researchers told participants the true tale of Houdini and his vanishing elephant. Half of the group heard a straightforward story lacking intrigue. The other half heard a partial version, full of mystery, and expected to fill in the gaps.
Both groups were asked to rate their level of curiosity and then design their own magic trick. The scientists discovered that participants with more curiosity about the story showed greater ingenuity in their own designs. They refer to this phenomenon as “idea linking,” a process in which thoughts build upon themselves, thus improving problem-solving and creativity skills.
Another intriguing finding came from a slightly older study conducted in 2014 by the University of California at Davis. Researchers introduced participants to a series of questions and asked them to rate their level of curiosity about each. Then, those questions were posed to each person while connected to an fMRI brain scanner.
They discovered a significant increase in mid-brain activity on questions the participants were most curious about. That is the exact location of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. So, based on this study, it appears a heightened level of curiosity results in an increase in dopamine production.
Even better, recent animal studies suggest that dopamine could cause (or enhance) the formation of new neural pathways. In other words – you strengthen your memory and learning pathways. News of this animal study could explain why the UC at Davis study showed a 30% recall boost. Yup, curiosity may improve your memory.
So forget the adage “curiosity killed the cat,” and dig down deep to rediscover yours. You may find that your work life and personal life are more satisfying. And when you enjoy anything – whether it’s a project or a hobby – you are more likely to succeed!