Posted by: brandextenders | April 18, 2018

Curiosity and the Cat


Apparently, the Mars rover is the guilty party!

On the one hand, we have a cat, dead from curiosity.  And on the other, a box full of all things negative, opened by a curious woman. Pandora’s Box, as you may otherwise know it.

Curiosity is, of course, what these seemingly two unrelated events have in common.  But what’s interesting to me is the fact these are both negative events, despite the fact, almost all agree curiosity is a beneficial trait in humans. Without curiosity, would there have been a Michelangelo, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Galileo, Christopher Columbus, Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk…among others? Chances are a population lacking curiosity would still be living in caves without a written language, technology limited to the newest wooden club and eating bats instead of creamy avocado spinach pasta.

In 2016, the Gallup organization surveyed nearly 149,000 people from 142 nations, a sample designed to represent 96 percent of the world’s population. The poll identified two factors with the strongest influence on how much enjoyment a person experienced in a given day and they are, “being able to count on someone for help” and “having learned something yesterday.” In other words, curiosity is a driving force in learning and overall enjoyment of life.

But who has time to be curious you might ask? The truth is, if we are to grow as humans, to enjoy life to the fullest and be successful in whatever way we define success, we need to cultivate our curiosity each and every day. Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” And with that curiosity, he turned the scientific world on its head as he rewrote the laws of nature. You too can harness the power of curiosity to enrich your life using these tips culled from a variety of sources:

  • Ask lots of questions. Children constantly ask “why”, sometimes to the chagrin of their parents. That’s how we learn. But as we grow older, we become less likely to ask and more likely to just accept things as they are. The best journalists are always seeking the five W’s: who, what, where, when and why, and rarely ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. When I meet someone new, I always ask questions to learn about their life, despite the fact the majority of these same people rarely do the same. One never learns by answering questions, but rather by asking the right questions…and pretty much any question is the right question.
  • Question everything. In addition to asking questions, question the answers. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb (Google it!), but took something that was unreliable and made it better. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the computer, but together with Steve Wozniak, founded a company that made technology easily accessible to the average consumer. By questioning the technology that already existed and asking how to make it easier to use, Jobs and the Woz changed computing forever. Do the same in your life:  question the answers to see what lies beyond that which you accept as the truth.
  • Read, listen to podcasts, and watch YouTube Videos: My oldest son has a townhouse and decided to tear out the bathtub and turn it into a shower. Having a father with none of these skills (that’s me), he turned to YouTube and found a plethora of videos on how to remodel a bathroom. His curiosity has given him new skills and similar results can come from reading books and listening to podcasts. Let curiosity help you find hobbies, learn new skills, explore the world, and become versed in something that intrigues you.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. We all tend to hide within the unseen walls of that which is comfortable and keep risk at bay. Being curious though means you must step outside that which is known and foster an intellectual curiosity. Challenge yourself daily with simple things like taking a different route home, doing things you fear (within reason of course), volunteer your time, try new recipes, write a story, use a map instead of Waze or brush your teeth while standing on one leg. Doing things differently sparks the brain to connect in different ways and forever changes how you view the world.
  • Just google itIf all else fails, Google it: Call me an old fart, but growing up we didn’t have the Internet. Hell, there was hardly television… with only three networks and a couple of quirky UHF stations. We had more time to be curious and referred to an Encyclopedia when all else failed, or we had a major report due. But today, if you have a question, you can simply Google It and get 5,432,331 answers. More or less! Don’t be afraid to use the Internet to answer your questions and quench your curiosity.

Leave it to a 12-year old to show us what it means to be curious. In late 2008, NASA sponsored a contest among students to name the spacecraft they would be sending to Mars a few years hence. Clara Ma, a sixth-grade student from Kansas came up with the name Curiosity, chosen from some 9,000 entries, and as a result, she got to write her name on the rover now wandering the Martian landscape.

Ask those questions that have always plagued you. Why is sandwich meat round and bread is square? Why is vanilla ice cream white when vanilla extract is brown? And why are there no ‘B’ batteries? Doing so will expand your mind and increase your curiosity factor tenfold.

According to Mark Twain, “If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way.” That’s certainly one way to satisfy your curiosity, but I’d suggest that curiosity without claws would be a much wiser choice.


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