Curiosity Cultivates Smarts

Studies have shown that curiosity positively correlates with intelligence. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2002, researchers correctly predicted that high novelty-seeking (or highly curious) toddlers would have higher IQs as older children than toddlers with lower levels of curiosity. Researchers measured the degree of novelty-seeking behavior in 1,795 3-year-olds and then measured their cognitive ability at age 11. As predicted, the 11-year-olds who had been highly curious 3-year-olds later scored 12 points higher on total IQ compared with low stimulation seekers. They also had superior scholastic and reading ability.

Other studies have shown that high levels of curiosity in adults are connected to greater analytic ability, problem-solving skills and overall intelligence. All of which suggests that cultivating more curiosity in your daily life is likely to make you smarter.

You may wonder why some people are more adept at managing complexity. Although complexity is context-dependent, it is also determined by a person’s disposition. In particular, there are three key psychological qualities that enhance our ability to manage complexity:

1)IQ: IQ refers to mental ability. IQ does affect a wide range of real-world outcomes, such as job performance and objective family management and decision-making. The main reason is that higher levels of IQ enable people to learn and solve novel problems faster. At face value, IQ tests seem quite abstract, mathematical, and disconnected from everyday life problems, yet they are a powerful tool to predict our ability to manage complexity. What could be more complex these days than managing a pandemic—keeping our kids well-educated, staying connected with loved ones who don’t live with us, remaining financially viable when jobs are lost or suspended?

2) EQ: EQ stands for emotional quotient and concerns our ability to perceive, control, and express emotions. EQ relates to managing complexity in three main ways. First, individuals with higher EQ are less likely to succumb to stress and anxiety. Since complex situations are demanding and require resourcefulness, they are likely to induce pressure and stress, but high EQ acts as a buffer. Second, EQ is a key ingredient of interpersonal skills, which means that people with higher EQ are better equipped to master complex relationships and situations. Third, people with higher EQ tend to be more innovative, so they are more proactive at taking risks, and turning creative ideas into inspired solutions. All this makes EQ an important quality for adapting to uncertain, unpredictable, and complex environments.

3) CQ: CQ stands for curiosity quotient and concerns having a hungry mind. People with higher CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences. They find novelty exciting and are continuously looking for something new to do, solve, or create. They tend to generate many original ideas and are counter-conformist. It has not been as deeply studied as EQ and IQ, but there’s some evidence to suggest it is just as important when it comes to managing complexity in two major ways. First, individuals with higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity. This nuanced, sophisticated, subtle thinking style defines the very essence of complexity. Second, CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time. Knowledge and expertise, much like experience, translate complex situations into familiar ones, so CQ is the ultimate tool to produce simple solutions for complex problems.

Although IQ is hard to coach, EQ and CQ can be developed. As Albert Einstein famously said: ““I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Huffington Post suggests we ponder these 7 questions to increase your curiosity:

  1. What is love?
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. What happens when I die?
  4. What makes me come alive?
  5. How do I want to be remembered?
  6. Am I truly happy?
  7. What is my purpose in life?

Love – Love can be one of the most challenging sentiments to define, and it naturally varies from person to person. Yet taking time to explore its various forms and inferences can provide a deeper understanding of what it means for you.

Where – This question guides you to tune into the current landscape of your life and unveil the direction you want to follow. You can also broaden the scope of the question and imagine where family, friends, and relationships fit in. Take time to paint several versions of the picture, and be comfortable that the vision will change over time. As long as you are living by your own vision, you will manifest where you want to be.

When I die – Yes, it can feel uncomfortable to contemplate the idea of death. However, research has found that thinking about death can actually be useful and stabilizing for you. A 2012 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Review found that an awareness of mortality can not only improve one’s physical health, but also help a person prioritize life goals and values as needed. Researcher Kenneth Vail, of the University of Missouri, said, “The dance with death can be a delicate but potentially elegant stride toward living the good life.”

Alive – African American author, philosopher and civil rights leader Howard Thurman famously said, “Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Discovering a dedication that fuels your inner fire can take time and discipline, which is all the more reason to take the time to ask yourself this question. Let your imagination flourish while you invite possibilities to appear and manifest all around you. Being honest with yourself and embracing a little soul-searching is often just what it takes to discover your untapped gifts.

Remembered – Many people spend their days living by their resumes, their lists of honors and awards that translate to what they believe they have accomplished throughout their lives. However, researchers encourage us to spend more time living a life that people they love will care and speak about both while we are alive and after we pass. When people remember you, it will be how you connected with them, what they learned from you, and all the ways you showed kindness, compassion, and a sense of humor that was infectious. Consider truly what you want your friends and family to remember about you.

Happy – If you’re thinking about happiness beyond the present moment, you have to take a broad view of your life and overall contentment and joy. Reviewing the years of your life and the overall feelings you have about each segment helps you realize how much you are thriving and blossoming, and it can also increase your ability to even be happier, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Researchers found that those who actively tried to become more joyful using specific methods were able to do so. Methods can include things like listening to soothing music and reading inspiring stories. The lesson is to seek and practice things that hold joy for you.

Purpose – The question of purpose often arises during moments of transition. Whether due to a major career change or retirement, moving to another state or country, or starting a family, you may find yourself asking what your purpose is as a means to find stability within yourself. Well-known author Anais Nin supports that idea with her writing of The Diary of Anais Nin. In her book, she writes, “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.” Author, philosopher and spiritual master Amit Ray stated, “It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered, or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters.”



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