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Curiosity Killed the Cat – But What Killed your Curiosity?

Curiosity Killed the Cat – But What Killed your Curiosity?

AJ Keller
By AJ Keller on August 18, 2023
Health and Wellness

Children possess an insatiable curiosity, perpetually asking the question "Why?" as they enthusiastically explore the world around them, driven simply by their desire to understand. 

However, as adults, we often find ourselves fixed in established and convenient cognitive routines. 

This raises the question: what causes this shift, and can we ever rekindle our curiosity, even in adulthood?

Bad News: You Can Unlearn Creativity

When NASA wanted to recruit profoundly imaginative individuals, they enlisted the expertise of Dr. George Land to develop an assessment capable of precisely assessing creative aptitude. 

Working in partnership with fellow researcher Dr. Beth Jarman, they formulated a test focused on assessing divergent thinking – the capacity to approach a given problem and generate numerous solutions.

The test proved effective and remains a foundational component of curiosity-related research. However, driven by his own curiosity, Dr. George Land desired to delve deeper into the underlying mechanisms of curiosity.

Where does this trait originate, and how does it transform as we progress through life? He wondered.

To tackle these queries, he led an extensive observational study involving 1,600 children. He administered the test to these kids at the ages of 5, 10, and 15. The initial test showed that an impressive 98% achieved the highest possible score in creativity. Yet, when they retook the test five years later, only 30% of the very same children performed well. Even more dishearteningly, during the third instance, now in high school, only a mere 12% of the children demonstrated proficiency in the test.

As for adults, the situation shows no improvement. Drawing from a sample of 280,000 individuals, fewer than 2% of all adults are labeled as creative based on their responses to this standardized test.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that this dramatic decline in our curiosity levels could be caused by our increase in knowledge growing up.

I mean let’s face it…

Nobody is born a “boring grown up”. We don’t exit the womb excited about a 401K and a new dishwasher.

But somewhere along the line, life happens.

Once we feel like there’s no gap anymore between what we already know and what we wish to know – it seems that we just cease to be curious. 

Curiosity killed the cat

But why should we care about this waning curiosity?

    1. It keeps you young: Research suggests that maintaining a sense of wonder throughout life, coupled with a penchant for seeking novelty, contributes to slower aging. A study that monitored aging individuals and their curiosity levels revealed that those with high levels of curiosity were more likely to survive five years later!

    2. It enhances learning: There is strong evidence to suggest that curiosity significantly improves the retention of new information. After all, the more curious you are about a subject, the greater the likelihood of remembering it…

    3. It nurtures your strongest relationships: When you show genuine interest in others, it has a profound impact on building robust relationships, as evidenced by research. This curious approach leads to deeper intimacy and lays the groundwork for meaningful, lasting connections.

Are you convinced you should do more to cultivate your curiosity? 

Well, here’s the good news.

Having a low level of curiosity doesn’t mean your curiosity has vanished. In most adults, it’s actually just suppressed. Think about it, every time you sleep and you start dreaming – you let your curiosity take the wheel.

In fact, to exercise my own curiosity – I simply use the Crown. 

By recording your brainwave data and shifting you into focus, the Crown can help you understand which topics or activities capture your mind’s attention. 

When you incorporate the Crown into your daily routine, you create a habit of cognitive enhancement. This consistency can lead to a more open and curious mindset as you consistently seek new ways to challenge and stimulate your mind!

Here are some of my favorite activities to try with The Crown – but you can try them even if you don’t have one.

Cultivating Your Curiosity: 10 Top Tips

Question everything: Frequently ask yourself "why?" and "how?" when reading or conversing. Jot down these queries to seek answers later.

Read different books: Delve into books outside your usual faves, whether it's poetry, non-fiction, a cookbook, or geology. Enjoy reading for its own sake, even if it doesn't directly relate to your work.

Get interested in people: Reconnect with someone you haven't seen in a while and invite them for coffee. Your goal is to learn about their interests. Apply this approach to new acquaintances as well.

Practice active listening: Speak less and listen more. This is connected to being inquisitive with others. You’ll find there is a lot to learn!

Immerse yourself in a random topic: Choose an interesting subject and dive deep. Read articles, books, research papers, watch TED talks, and listen to podcasts.

Write a letter: Express your curiosity by writing a letter to someone. This commitment encourages exploration and the cultivation of curiosity.

Keep a Notebook: Maintain a handy notebook to record intriguing topics for future research or writing.

Self-Discovery: Explore your emotions, goals, behaviors, and even delve into your family history. Curiosity can be turned inward.

Slow down: Avoid letting productivity stifle creativity. Make time for your mind to wander and questions to emerge.

Spend Time with Children: Interacting with kids reminds us of our innate curiosity, during a time when we knew much less, which helps rejuvenate our sense of wonder.

As adults, it’s in our complete control whether or not to be curious.

Sure, it might take some effort, but it’s always worth connecting with our younger self and seeing the world sparkle as it did when we were kids.


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