One of the finest qualities of being human

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
— Albert Einstein

"No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives."
— Neil deGrasse Tyson


When our family would go on a walk with a naturalist or take a tour of a factory, my children wanted to walk with me, right behind the leader. That’s because I liked asking questions, and they got to hear the answers. Consequently, my children are also curious.

However, whether curiosity will change your life, help you understand others better, or help you change the world, will depend in large part on whether you care enough to do something about the answers you discover.

Curiosity About OTHER PEOPLE’S Beliefs and Opinions

I notice that I get much further in resolving conflicts (most of the time) when I explore the differences I have with others from a position of genuine curiosity. By “genuine” I mean just that: I sincerely want to understand why the other person believes the way he or she does. The “truth” of the situation seems so obvious to me.

With this perspective, I discover that we both make greater progress in understanding one another than when we are each determined to change the other person’s mind.

Curiosity About OUR Beliefs and Opinions

If we all looked at our beliefs with curiosity, we might recognize that just because we believe something sincerely, earnestly, genuinely, totally, and intensely does not raise it to a position of universal truth.

Even more, if we push ourselves beyond blind acceptance of the dogma of our church, mosque or temple, or the goals of our political party or its leaders—with

the intention to question the relevance of those views in our personal lif—we may make an interesting discovery.

We may find new, deeper understanding of the world around us, new ideas that can now speak to our hearts in a more satisfying way than those ideas we accepted blindly.

Exploring Your Beliefs and Opinions

If you believe there is a final, ultimate, never-to-be-questioned-again truth about any topic, how do you know that it is true, and why do you put trust into one person or institution to know “the truth” rather than another?

As you look at the way your beliefs have changed through the years, in what way do you trust that your beliefs today—from politics to religion—will be true tomorrow and in the years ahead?

It is a common human trait to reduce anxiety in stressful situations by being critical of others—whether or not we express that opinion verbally—even before we know them or what they believe? How true is this of you?

To what extent do you tend to defend your personal views and opinions and to believe another person’s disagreement is an attack on you, rather than simply a difference of opinion?

Paying Attention to What You See

When you look around you, besides needing to navigate the world without running into something, how much are you interested in what you’re seeing?

Studies show that curiosity helps you discover things that are important to know, even when you didn’t set out to learn about them. Recognizing the benefit curiosity can have on your life, how might you now pay attention to things in your environment that you haven’t explored before?

Exploring CURIOSITY in Your Life

What does curiosity mean to you?

What is the most surprising thing that has happened to you because you became curious about something?

When has curiosity helped you the most?

What symbol best represents curiosity—something that can remind you of this important quality when you see something that you suspect would be helpful to know more about?

This exploration of curiosity was created by Arlene Harder, MA, MFT, resident of Villa Gardens, a Front Porch Retirement Community in Pasadena, California. The material is not copyrighted and may be used with attribution. (Photo by Maria Symchych in Shutterstock.)