In this podcast (episode #554) and blog, I talk about why curiosity is great for our mind and brain health.
“Curiosity killed the cat.” I am sure you have heard of this saying at some point or another. Of course, sometimes asking questions can have negative consequences, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. In fact, asking questions is one of the most instinctively natural things we do as humans. It’s more likely that not asking questions killed the cat!
Curiosity helps you expand your life experiences, move forward, grow, improve your autonomy, change your brain health for the better, learn to process what you go through, and can increase your wellbeing and longevity. It helps you develop a deeper and richer understanding of yourself, your thoughts, your mental and emotional wellbeing, and the world around you.
I would even say that curiosity is a crucial aspect of managing your mind, which is your driving life force. It is also an essential process in my mind management system called the Neurocycle, which I discuss in detail in my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle. Throughout the 5 steps of the Neurocycle, you are getting curious about how you are showing up through your emotions, behaviors, perspective and bodily sensations. The entire process is guided by asking, answering and discussing, or by embracing your curiosity! This enables you to do a deep dive into the inner workings of your conscious, subconscious and nonconscious mind to find healing and change your thinking.
Curiosity creates an energy and neurochemical flow through the brain that results in an increasingly malleable state in the relevant brain networks, which allows you to reorganize, change and expand the memories housed within a thought structure. What all this means it that curiosity quite literally loosens up your mind and brain and helps you change them for the better!
When you ask questions, you fuel the funneling effect between the conscious and nonconscious mind. The nonconscious mind gathers all relevant existing thoughts related to the question(s) and funnels them through the subconscious mind at about 40 actions per second, which you consciously perceive in chunks every few seconds. The subconscious mind is like a doorway between the conscious and nonconscious mind “forcing” your conscious mind to focus singularly on that one question. This is an energy-dense task, so your brain is activated to channel all energy specifically to this task, which is so good for brain health! It is like going to the gym or yoga and doing an intense workout. It may hurt initially, but over time your body shape and health improves. This is what’s happening in the mind, brain and body (your psychoneurobiological networks) when you are curious!
It also helps with:
- Problem-solving: Curiosity encourages creative problem-solving, which leads to solution-finding. When you're curious, you're more likely to explore multiple angles and solutions to a problem. This can lead to innovation and the development of new, effective strategies. You reconceptualize and see things in different ways and from different perspectives. Problems become objectives to solve and failures and mistakes become information to learn from.
- Emotional maturity and self-regulation: curiosity also helps us develop your mind management skills, which leads to autonomy in your life. Through questions, you can gain a sense of your own abilities and learn how you can adapt and change to improve your life. This is incredibly empowering! You can start doing this by acknowledging and articulating the thoughts that are weighing you down—the ones that don’t serve any useful purpose beyond keeping you stuck. Next, ask yourself questions rather than issuing commands to yourself. What are these thoughts trying to tell you? Why do you think you have these thoughts? And so on. This is a much more effective way to reconceptualize your mind because it opens up exploration, creates possibility, and distances you from what you are thinking about, giving you a safe space for change.
- Adaptability: In a rapidly changing world, being curious is essential for adaptability. It helps you stay open to new ideas and concepts, making it easier to adapt to new technologies, trends, and environments. Curiosity essentially helps you develop a “possibilities mindset”, allowing you to shift quickly and effectively if plans change or your needs change without being thrown off or paralyzed into inaction.
- Improved relationships: Curiosity also plays a role in fostering better relationships. When you're genuinely interested in others and their perspectives, it can lead to stronger connections and better communication.
So, no, curiosity did not kill the cat! Curiosity can give us a deeper and richer life with more understanding of ourselves, our thoughts, and our mental and emotional wellbeing. So don’t be scared to ask questions, and encourage your children to do so as well! As one of my favorite quotes says, “be an infinite learner, always.”
For more on curiosity and the brain, listen to my podcast (episode #554). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
This podcast is sponsored by:
ZocDoc. We all know there are things in life you have to compromise on, like an apartment that’s in your budget…but with an upstairs neighbor who plays the drums. But when it comes to your health, there is no compromise. So don’t go back to that one doctor who uses your appointment to catch up on the latest headlines/their family group chat/their crossword puzzles just because they’re available right now or they take your slightly sketchy insurance. Instead, check out Zocdoc - the place where you can find and book doctors who will make you feel comfortable, listen to you, and prioritize your health. And you can search by location, availability, and insurance - so literally no compromises here because with Zocdoc, you’ve got more options than you know. Zocdoc is a FREE app and website where you can search and compare highly-rated, in-network doctors near you AND instantly book appointments with them online. Once you find the doc you want, you can book them immediately —no more waiting awkwardly on hold with a receptionist. And these docs all have verified reviews from actual, real patients! I love using Zocdoc, and you will too! Just go to Zocdoc.com/LEAF and download the Zocdoc app for FREE.
0:12 Curiosity didn’t kill the cat
1:08 Curiosity will expand & improve your mind and brain
3:50, 6:52 The power of asking questions
7:40 Curiosity & the Neurocycle
8:40 Curiosity in the mind & brain
15:00 The many benefits of curiosity
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.