By Samantha Boardman published
We are born curious. From birth, babies want to explore their surroundings. The entire industry of baby-prooﬁng grows out of their inborn need to touch, see, taste, and experience the world around them. As children’s senses and capabilities develop, their sense of wonder expands too. They venture into the unknown with great interest and an unbridled desire to know more.
But as adults, many of us lose this sense of discovery. We get so busy looking for answers, we forget to ask questions out of fear of the unknown or because we don’t want to disrupt our routine or because we are just too busy dealing with our daily lives. Playing it safe prevents us from being overwhelmed and creates a predictable environment, but it doesn’t foster the discovery of new things or build the skills of resilience that challenges teach us.
By avoiding situations that provoke anxiety, we may be protecting ourselves from discomfort, but we are also missing out on a key aspect of vitality: the joy of learning. According to a Gallup survey, learning something new was one of the strongest inﬂuences on how much enjoyment a person experienced on a given day.
What is the best way to keep curiosity alive? Make it a habit to ask more questions in your everyday life. Two of my favorites are inspired by Dean James Ryan’s 2016 commencement speech at the Harvard Graduate School of Education:
1. “Wait, what?” When you ask this question, you are expressing interest and a desire to learn more. This question is essential for understanding and clariﬁcation. It’s about taking the time to carefully consider what you are doing before making up your mind.
2. “I wonder if/why …” This form of inquiry keeps you curious about why things are as they are and exploring different possibilities and scenarios. It enables you to think differently and see a problem with fresh eyes.
The best questions help us rethink what we already know and not take “what is” for granted. As the old saying goes, “Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.”
This story originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Marie Claire.
MORE FROM SAMANTHA BOARDMAN
When Are We Getting Season 2 of 'Yellowjackets'?
We have so many questions!
By Quinci LeGardye
The 'Yellowjackets' Finale, Explained
The last episode of season one was a feast (pun intended) of gore and shocking reveals.
By Jenny Hollander
Prince Charles Ignored a Reporter Who Asked About Prince Andrew
The encounter occurred days after Andrew was stripped of his HRH and military titles.
By Marie Claire Editors
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe