How To Be More Curious

Some people are lucky. They naturally ask lots of questions (curiosity).

Wether a natural or not, curiosity can be improved.

Here’s how:

Get Told You’re Wrong More:

When I was younger, I started to realise I didn’t know much. So I became intellectually humble. I started saying ‘I dunno’ a lot.

I still don’t know much, but I’ve realised ‘I dunno’ often isn’t pragmatic. Better to have ’strong opinions, loosely held’.

A bold conjecture elicits better feedback. You also get told you’re wrong. This makes you want to defend yourself better next time. You’ll effortlessly desire to answer new questions.

To exaggerate this, try exaggerating a little.

Be More Mindful

The ability to witness the mind allows you to engage useful thoughts and observe useless ones.

Without this skill, you waste brain power on crappy thinking. The opportunity cost of an undomesticated mind is useful thinking.

. . . 

The complexion of each moment is unique. It’s infused with circumstance and who you are at that time. How to maximising a moment (or sequence of them) is always different.

Mindfulness helps you notice this, so you can make better choices about wether to consume, generate or consolidate ideas.

It also helps you figure out which questions are most interesting at that moment.

Capitalise on inspiration by aligning actions with interest/mood.

Curiosity Compounds

Whatever your interest, solving problems always leads to interesting new problems. 

To Be Less Boring, Get Bored More.

Boredom creates a desire to do something interesting. 

‘Interesting’ can mean refreshing Instagram repeatedly. But eliminate junk input, and interesting means higher quality questions.

Follow a ‘not to-do list’ and boredom becomes fertile.

Make Daunting Interesting

Some topics appear daunting. 

Molecular Biology used to be for me, but now it’s interesting. What happened? 

I got bored more. But I also found/made an interesting side door to the topic. I studied viruses when I was sick. I fasted for 3 days and learnt what was happening to my body.

Don’t start on page 1 of the textbook.

Learn The Basics

Learning resembles a tree – you start with the foundation (trunk) then add details (branches). The brain turns off when it hears details about unfamiliar subjects. By learning the basics, it has a place to stick the branches. It opens up a world of interestingness.

Do What Works

I think good ideas come when waiting, such as in transit. They also come when engaged in a  low stimulation task, such as walking or a long shower.

I think it’s because there’s no decisions to be made. This frees up mental resources.

Regardless of why – spend more time walking, in the shower or doing whatever works for you. A change of scenery seems to help too.

Get Healthy

The most underrated aspect of intellectual growth is energy management. Make choices to increase sustained energy levels and your brain will be more interesting.

Deliberately Ask More Questions

Thinking is largely the process of asking and answering questions. To think better deliberately ask more questions.

For me, this is best done on the page.

Scale Personal Problems

For example, if interested in eating healthy, ask how to improve the diet of 100,000 people. Big thoughts are exciting, which stimulates the mind (h/t Lulie).