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5 Signs You Need to Further Boost Your Curiosity

5 Signs You Need to Further Boost Your Curiosity

Imagine one day having to wake up with powers of absolute knowledge and what you could do with it. You can probably become a very powerful investor due to the knowledge you posses, or get that dream job immediately after acing the first round of interviews. With absolute knowledge, you will be able to help those in need during times of crisis and be looked up upon.

We know that absolute knowledge is impossible; however, high levels of curiosity can still help us get to where we want to be in life. Take a step back today and ask yourself whether you’re where you want to be as planned a year ago. If the answer is no, then maybe it is a sign that you need to be more curious in your life. Here are five signs you need to further boost your curiosity.

1. You don’t have good memory and learning is ineffective

Always forgetting where you put your car keys or to do the things your boss asks you to do? Studies have shown that people with bad memory may be lacking in dopamine, a chemical in the brain that strengthens people’s memories.

A research study done on college students by a neuroscientist from the University of California might shed light on how natural curiosity can improve our memory.

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Using an fMRI scanner, each of the student’s brains were monitored while being asked a bunch of trivia questions. They started with interesting questions that the students were highly curious about, and then a list of questions that were boring. The students were then asked to do memory tests on remembering the answers. In all, the students remembered 35 answers out of 50 when they were curious and 27 out of 50 when they were not.

2. You don’t have good health

A 2005 report published in the Health Psychology journal did a two-year study of more than 1,000 patients and found out that people with higher levels of curiosity also had a lesser likelihood of having hypertension or diabetes. Though it is not definite that it implies causation, its relationship however, suggests that being curious can bring about positive effects on our health.

In 1996, there was also another study to observe more than 1,000 older adults over a five-year period. Those who survived at the end of the five years were found to be more curious than the others who didn’t outlive the period of study. Another surprising finding was that among those who still lived, there were people who were smokers, who had cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

So if you think you’re not in the best of health physically, try regenerating mentally first by keeping an open mind and developing a habit for questioning things. One example could be questioning the mechanisms of everyday items that we come in contact with and how they work.

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3. You have difficulty in developing intimate relationships

Difficulty in developing intimate relationships can also be a sign of poor levels of curiosity as researchers have pointed out that the highly curious experiences more interpersonal outcomes compared to the less curious.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo (UB) carried out an experiment with 90 students at UB, before which, they were first put through a test to measure their levels of curiosity. The students were then put in two conversations settings with their partners: one casual and the other intimate.

Looking at the results, the researchers concluded that individuals with higher curiosity levels are more approachable, and they exhibit more pleasure-seeking behaviors which increases shared feelings of intimacy between strangers. For example, researchers realized that people with high curiosity tend to approach the questions with wit and humor to liven up conversations.

4. You easily feel unhappy

If you’re getting frustrated problems that seem like small issues to others, then it’s probably due to the fact that you are lacking the two important components of achieving happiness in life. Polls conducted by the Gallup organization realized that the two components are “being able to count on others for help” and “learning something yesterday” — all of which leads to how high a person’s curiosity level is.

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Another finding by researchers in Harvard University will surprise you. Researchers stated that we actually find less joy in anticipated events which we think will make us happy in the future because rather than stumbling on it — which will give us more joy — a planned pursuit of joy is less pleasurable. They then went on to add that cultivating curiosity helps us remain open to new experiences, which helps to increase our likelihood for stumbling upon satisfying activities.

5. You desperately want to find the meaning of life

Curiosity is the gateway to many foundations of our lives; hobbies, interests, and passions are all results of our curiosities being piqued. However, lacking curiosity later in our lives will have us desperately looking for new meaning for what we live for.

It could also be said that curiosity itself is a purpose of life and as long as we live, we’re motivated to find the answers to the big questions in life. And as long as you can muster curiosity levels and keep an open mind, the more you will uncover mysteries and hence, life will naturally become more meaningful.

Easy Ways to Cultivate Curiosity

Keep questioning

Look around you and you’ll realize that there are many things which you do not have the answers to. For example, how does one make designs in leather? How does an air conditioning unit work? Do we really know how much sleep we require?

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Keep your mind open

As adults, we have been molded to assume everything based on life experiences. But try the approach of an open mind, and you will be amazed at the many mysteries you will uncover.

Diversify your life experience

Try new things everyday and it doesn’t matter how difficult it is. As adults, we always assume things like learning a new language is hard because of what we listen from other people who have tried it. Brilliant people have diversified backgrounds because of their high levels of curiosity, and you should too.

Featured photo credit: people window via pexels.com

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Lim Kairen

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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