Curiosity Is the Secret to a Happy Life

The more that experts examine curiosity, the more they find evidence to suggest that it’s the secret sauce in a happy, fulfilling life. “If you take the fundamental things that people tend to want out of life — strong social relationships and happiness and accomplishing things — all of these are highly linked to curiosity,” says Todd Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University and author of Curious?. What exactly does it mean to be curious? “If you go by the typical dictionary definition, curiosity is simply a desire to seek out new knowledge or experiences,” Kashdan says. While this definition is a useful starting point, he says curiosity also involves a willingness to engage with complex, unfamiliar, and challenging concepts or endeavors. Kashdan has helped develop two widely used scientific models for measuring curiosity. The newer of these models breaks curiosity down into five different categories or “dimensions.”

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