Albert Einstein, the man who has become a synonym for “genius”, realized the power of wonder, and the desire to know and understand. In a piece from Life magazine titled “An Old Man’s Advice To Youth”, he had this to say:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
Published after his death, this quote epitomized the principles he lived his life by. It’s what made him a genius.
For him, the most important thing was never to stop questioning. Curiosity is a powerful driver in this world. Cultivating it was for Einstein the most powerful piece of advice he could pass onto the next generations.
Yet, in today’s world it seems as if many people have lost this sense of wonder, this need to know and understand. It’s as if curiosity is not something valued by today’s youth, or even the older generations.
The genuine will to try to understand how the world works has instead found a substitute. The need to gawk at people’s Instagram pictures, or watch reality shows on TV.
Stupid curiosity has replaced smart curiosity as the driver of people’s actions. And that’s a shame. In the process, people are losing an important element that gives meaning to life.
The result? Depression, feelings of meaninglessness, and stupidity.
The power of observational curiosity
Yet curiosity is in itself a superpower. The mundane can be a great source of inspiration.
Imagine a world where you notice the subtle details that often elude people’s attention, the way light filters through a window, the expressions on strangers’ faces, the patterns of behavior in a bustling city.
Observational curiosity encourages you to slow down, look beyond the surface, and uncover hidden narratives. From Sherlock Holmes to the keen-eyed scientist, those who harness this form of curiosity possess a distinct advantage, uncovering insights that escape the notice of the casual observer.
In today’s age, being curious is a tremendous advantage. It can give you a sense of meaning, in a world that often seems to lack it.
Just like for Einstein, following my curiosity has also been the secret to a better life. Keeping my mind busy, and trying to learn about how things work has helped me deal with the absurdity of the world.
Loneliness, depression, melancholy. Been there. Often, still there. What helps me beat it? Curiosity.
Why is a fundamental question
The most profound questions often begin with a simple “why.” From childhood wonder to scientific inquiry, the courage to ask why unlocks new avenues of understanding.
Curiosity thrives on the refusal to accept the status quo, and on the relentless pursuit of deeper truths. Through the stories of great innovators and revolutionaries, you can see how the persistent quest for answers has led to groundbreaking discoveries, paradigm shifts, and societal transformations.
True curiosity necessitates a degree of vulnerability, a willingness to abandon preconceived notions and venture into uncharted territory. It is in the realm of uncertainty that we challenge the boundaries of what is known. This is where true growth and innovation thrive.
By embracing the unknown, you open yourself to the possibility of failure, but also to the potential for greatness. The rewards of curiosity usually far outweigh the risks.
Curiosity is a timeless human characteristic. It is not bound by the constraints of time or place. It has propelled us from the caves of our ancestors to the outer reaches of space. It’s the fundamental building block of human progress.
In our quest for knowledge, we must remember that curiosity is not a destination. It is an endless journey, an ever-evolving force that propels us forward. As we nurture our curiosity, we embrace the boundless possibilities that lie before us, and unleash the hidden power that resides within each of us.
So, let your curiosity go. Read. Wonder. Explore. For in curiosity lies the seeds of a better future. And a better state of mind.
An earlier version of this article was originally published on “Medium” here.