'Curiouser and Curiouser' - The Power of Childlike Curiosity

28/06/2016 11:41 | Updated 28 June 2016

By John Tenniel - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Public Domain,

When was the last time you asked, "WHY?" in response to a situation. I don't mean that hand wringing sobbing howl of misfortune that is why me? I mean a damn good question when faced with a challenge. Children never stop asking why and it drives their parents mad. By the way, if you want to know why they do this, check out my article,, it's not that they want to annoy you, really.

Curiosity develops creativity
Asking why is all about learning and adults often think they can leave learning firmly at the school gates. Maybe that worked a century ago but in the 21st century if you stop learning you'll get left behind and that's a scary thought for some. Take a leaf out of the seniors book; in an interview with people aged over 60 learning to use computers and the internet for the first time; the main reason cited for deciding to do so was, curiosity.

Watch a toddler exploring something that to you and I may seem mundane (a cardboard box) and marvel at the intense concentration on the youngsters face. Their whole body investigates that box, their eyes, mouth, nose, fingers, feet it is a totally immersive learning experience.

When adults tackle an uncertain task they have one of two approaches. Either, they retreat into learned experience and do it the way they are used to or they take a leap of faith and explore alternative solutions. This means tapping into the creative part of their brain. Children do this all the time and their solutions to overcoming obstacles are often innovative and entertaining as they do not have the experience blueprint to work from. We could learn a lot from them.

As we grow older our curiosity dims and fades aided and abetted by fear, disapproval and trauma. It is hard for a child from a war torn region to retain curiosity; they are far more focused on staying safe and close to sheltering adults; the world is no longer a place to explore for them. For the majority of us, our fear of being seen as foolish or losing face can impede our curiosity and stop us from taking the risks associated with exploration. This is such a shame.

Curiosity can create innovation, breakthrough and triumph

If we were a little more curious about how things work/don't work and the whys of the world we too could be the next da Vinci, Einstein, Vivienne Westwood, Bill Gates, Delia Smith. It is not just talent that creates success but also a willingness to try something different. That could be as simple as a different combination of flavours in your next meal to a different way of collaborating on your next project at work. This may seem like a contradiction but you can develop the habit of curiosity in much the way you have created a habit of always doing things the same way.

Develop a habit of curiosity

Step 1 Vary your routine and observe
Always take the same route to work? Change it and pay attention to your surroundings on your new route, the sight, sound and smell of it, engage all your senses.

Step 2 Try asking questions
At that next boring function where you swap the tedious details of your professions or ages of your children- ask why? Why did your neighbour go into that job, what excites them about it? Why not what or how provokes far more response and you may be surprised and enlightened by the answers

Step 3 Learn something new
Did you have a secret hobby, desire, love of something unusual as a child? Revisit that, explore, open your mind to learning something outside of your comfort zone.

When we are curious we access more of our brains and create new connections. This kind of activity helps to work that grey muscle and keep it young and healthy. I love a challenge and while I may decide not to take it up- I always am curious about the possibilities first and see it as an opportunity to explore and learn something about this amazing world around me.


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