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Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 21, 2009
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Dead cats. That's the image many people conjure up when you mention curiosity. An image perpetuated by a dusty old proverb that has long represented the extent of our understanding of the term. This book might not put the proverb to rest, but it will flip it upside down: far from killing anything, curiosity breathes new life into almost everything it touches.
In Curious? Dr. Todd Kashdan offers a profound new message missing from so many books on happiness: the greatest opportunities for joy, purpose, and personal growth don't, in fact, happen when we're searching for happiness. They happen when we are mindful, when we explore what's novel, and when we live in the moment and embrace uncertainty. Positive events last longer and we can extract more pleasure and meaning from them when we are open to new experiences and relish the unknown.
Dr. Kashdan uses science, story, and practical exercises to show you how to become what he calls a curious explorer—a person who's comfortable with risk and challenge and who functions optimally in an unstable, unpredictable world. Here's a blueprint for building lasting, meaningful relationships, improving health, increasing creativity, and boosting productivity. Aren't you curious to know more?
How Curious? Will Help You: An Essay by Todd Kashdan
Without question, happiness is important. Who doesn't want to be happy and wish the same for their loved ones? But this book is not limited to happiness. This is a book about living a life that matters with a broader view about what the "good life" entails. Much of what we desire often has nothing to do with happiness but is just as important. This includes meaning and purpose in life, wisdom, satisfying relationships, the ability to tolerate distress, spirituality, creativity, compassion, feeling a sense of competence and mastery, and so on. Sometimes trying to be happy actually gets in the way of making inroads toward these other elements. Effectively handling the pain and stress that life brings is an essential part of creating a rich, meaningful existence.When you adopt this broad view of what matters, an important question remains that this entire book hinges on. What is essential to creating a fulfilling life? The answer is…
- Being curious.
- Being open to new experiences.
- Being able to effectively manage ambiguity and uncertainty.
- Being able to adapt to the demands required of different situations (what I call “psychological flexibility”).
- Discovering our strengths, deepest values, and what it is we are passionate about.
- Strengthening connections to these values and passionate pursuits so that we can pursue a life aligned with them.
This book provides a closer look at curiosity; a neglected and underappreciated strength in our arsenal. People regularly ignore curiosity because it appears, on the surface, to be a very obvious, simple, impotent emotion--something unusual appears or someone captivates us by a story, we feel curious, and direct our attention to explore further. But while this emotion seemed simplistic even to me, as I began my research, I soon discovered that curiosity is a deeper, more complex phenomenon that plays a critical role in what makes people’s lives most worth living. Curiosity is the spark plug that ignites other factors that contribute to happiness and meaning in life. You can't work with strengths until you spot them and investigate them. You can't be grateful without being curious about what benefits you received in your life.
Besides a better understanding of curiosity, readers will be introduced to strategies for becoming a more curious explorer. By reclaiming curiosity and learning how to wield it, readers will be able to demonstrably alter the quality of their lives. A good portion of this book focuses on how to find, create, and sustain fulfilling moments and a fulfilling life.
Curiosity is what makes for great leaders, great parents, and great friends. Buttressed by the latest scientific research, Curious? is one of those rare books that can make you rethink how you see the world. --Arianna Huffington
Curious? points the way to an exploring spirit that leads to wonderment, joy, and meaning. It's one of those rare books that is both research-based and practical. -- David G. Myers, author, The Pursuit of Happiness
Combining well-designed self-help with state-of-the-art positive psychology and profoundly inspiring stories, this is the perfect book to read when you are having second thoughts about challenging yourself to explore that next step in life! -- Stephen Post, Ph.D., co-author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People
Curious? will wake you up to the rewards, adventures, and meaning inherent in both life's most momentous and most quotidian moments. -- Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
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Kashdan is masterful in his taking his research and that of his colleagues to teach us how simply being interested in our surroundings can lead to more meaning & purpose, improved relationships and lower levels of anxiety (that's one of my favorite chapters!). Kashdan is committed to science AND having us take a different look at happiness.
I like to refer to "curiosity" as a first cousin of mindfulness. I'm not sure that you can label this book as "self-help," but there are plenty of nuggets to help you lead a life of greater well being and satisfaction - I've read dozens of books from all the stars in positive psychology, this is usually the one that I recommend to friends and colleagues.
From my perspective, a large part of Kashdan's success with this book is that he does not come off as a fusty academic, despite having a PhD after his name. His demeanor comes off as hip and contemporary without really trying (the guy admits he listens to Tool at high volume when he does his most productive writing) He is a self-described curious person, and the enthusiasm he brings to researching the subject shows. The result is a enjoyable read. Lastly, I appreciated that Kashdan chose to include sample personality inventories and exercises at the end of the book, rather than throughout - ensuring its place as an easy to use tool for enhancing one's life....
Dr. Kashdan shares deep knowledge from the fields of psychology, neurology, and his specific expertise in interpersonal relationships. He provides scientific ground for his gripping comments, while the insights from his counseling experiences provide practical scenarios in which to better understand the phenomenon of curiosity. This makes the knowledge that he shares much more relate-able to the lives of his readers.
I value how Dr. Kashdan re-contextualizes happiness, especially since some books tend to idolize happiness to the near neglect of deeper fulfillment. He helps to explain that focusing on happiness alone can blind us to the deep nuances that truly make life meaningful!
I also value that Dr. Kashdan highlights how society can squash innate curiosity, especially within the educational system. This is one of my personal concerns as well. The more we can become aware of the consequences of squashed curiosity, the faster we can help influence how schools function and help our children be the change agents we need them to be for better tomorrows!
Dr. Kashdan offers provocative discussion about attending to that which is familiar - curiosity is about recognizing novelty everywhere. I dare say that readers are likely to take pause in the book to look up at their surroundings and question what they take for granted.
Chapter 7 - The Anxious Mind and the Curious Spirit - provides a helpful perspective through which to understand one's own anxiety. Rather than getting caught up in anxiousness, it can be utilized to empower curiosity. Dr. Kashdan discusses the duality between anxiousness and curiosity, and how to potentially bridge the two.
A couple of times Dr. Kashdan addresses the topic of how to ask questions of other people - how to be curious in social encounters. This is excellent teaching! His insights can help improve one's likelihood of having meaningful conversation with others by simply enlisting one's capacity to be curious.
I appreciate how Dr. Kashdan shares insights from his professional practice as well as his own personal disclosures. These elements humanized the book. As a result, he is not so much the author as he is a person to whom one can relate. This creates a basis of trust, which makes the content of the book much more consumable.
The Appendix offers several questionnaires that provide personalized experiences for readers to become vested in the knowledge that he shares. What a great way to mobilize the information.
To the critics of this book, I offer a few comments. As the science of positive psychology produces more information about human functioning and thriving, it is important to share this information with the public. Academia and peer reviewed journals look for one form of writing, while the mass public prefers another. There is a fine art to translating science into palatable public information. Maybe some people would prefer not to have Dr. Kashdan's more conversational tone or personal disclosures, but between these aspects is abundant, solid information. For those who find some of his guidance too simplistic, I would say that simple guidance is easier to follow and yet surprisingly hard to practice. If you think his suggestions are too easy, try to implement them with regularity and see what challenges you experience in the process.
One criticism I have is that I would have personally preferred a type of consolidating chapter as the close to the book. In Dr. Kashdan's last chapter, he emphasizes how curiosity is involved with a meaningful life. I believe that an additional chapter thereafter, which would provide a synopsis that threads together the entire range of content in the book, would provide a stronger close and anchor the overall knowledge he's shared. In lieu of that, he ends by championing human potential and highlighting the grander focus of finding purpose in life. That's enticing.
Dr. Kashdan offers a bounty of information about curiosity, as well as a new perspective on human functioning. This is cutting edge information from the burgeoning field of positive psychology, as well as recent findings from the field of neurology. These refined understandings can assist all of us in our efforts to grow and more fully realize our potential!