A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my experience with Curiosity & why it’s the reason I get to make a living doing my dream job – a job with no commute or dress code, one where I get to create content I love, travel the world & share my story with all of you reading this. I’m so glad I decided to see what blogging was back then. I’m also really glad I found magic & kept at it, of course, because I didn’t get to build all of this overnight.

Not everything I’ve pursued over the years has always worked out amazingly well. You take a shot. Sometimes it’s gold, sometimes it’s not. But I know that if I just took the conventional route, life would be a lot less interesting.

Being curious is great. It can enhance your professional & personal life no matter what stage of life or field you’re in. But did you know that Curiosity is Learnable?

Merck kicked off their curiosity initiative last year by releasing the State of Curiosity Report; they then started the the Curiosity Lab Partnership, a six month experiment to prove that Anyone Can Be More Curious! The aim was to find how one can increase curiosity so as to ultimately lead to more or better science-driven behaviour.

I thought Thelma being his curious, playful self would be the perfect visuals to accompany this post!

The Four Dimensions of Curiosity

The first step to understanding what can encourage curiosity is to break it down which is where these come in.

Inquisitiveness refers to how a person reacts in response to feeling curious and includes exploratory behavior like freely asking questions and thinking and acting beyond one’s own job requirements. For me, that’s reading, staying updated with different trends & developments on blogs, podcasts & YouTube. Even watching a movie or TV show that’s relevant to what you do can help you increase your knowledge & motivate you to maybe try something different.

Creativity in problem solving can be thought of as a desire or willingness to challenge the status quo and an ability to identify new approaches to problem solving. We Indians have a word for this – jugaad! Unplanned hiccups always arise in every field & creativity includes brainstorming for effective solutions while still keeping your cool. It’s the ability to think on your feet!

Openness to other ideas can be defined as preferring a variety of experiences, being attentive to the world, and open to new ideas, whether they come from oneself or from others. It’s good to be confident in yourself or your skills, but it’s also important to know how to be a part of a team. Listen, consider & value other people’s experiences & suggestions. Don’t be so stubborn, you see your perspective as the only right way. I think this is one of the harder things to do because being stubborn is an easy trap to fall into. Over the years, I’ve trained myself to be better at this, following & engaging with intelligent people from all disciplines on social media like facebook & twitter really helps me learn new things.

Distress tolerance allows a person to take risks, to persevere and to approach the new and unfamiliar without fear. No matter how inquisitive, creative, and open a person might be, they may find it difficult-to-impossible to ever express their curiosity without a significant tolerance for distress. Its importance in the role of curiosity cannot be understated. I personally see the ability to manage stress & new situations without letting them overwhelm you. When I’m travelling alone, I know that everyday is an adventure. It isn’t always glamorous, & sometimes things can have negative outcomes, so I try to see everything as a learning experience, & not feel too down about it. At the end of the day, I just see everything as a learning experience, so instead of a regret, I’ll have learnt something that I can use in the future, or at least I’ll have an entertaining story, you know?

Like many skills in life, curiosity is something you can work at, nurture & get better at! You can visit curiosity.merckgroup.com for a lot of relevant & useful resources such as this fun Curiosity Selftest (I got Enthusiastic Innovator, in case you’re wondering).

I hope that this article inspired you to be more inquisitive, experiment & even try something you’ve been afraid of doing! If you have any tips on how to stay curious, do share them in the comments below & start a discussion.

This post was written in collaboration with Merck Group. You can read more about the Curiosity Report & the #CatchCurious Initiative here.