When asked the question "what did you learn today" most people will focus immediately on work or responsibilities of the day, dismissing anything else as mere trivia and having little or no impact on their lives.

Of course there are a plenty of good, even practical reasons to make learning and cultivating a sense of curiosity a part of your daily routine, but the best reason has nothing to do with practicality.

One of the most reliable, yet overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and using our natural sense of curiosity. Genuinely wanting to know more about something creates a ready openness to unfamiliar experiences, in the process increasing our self-confidence and opening the way for greater opportunities, discoveries and joy in life.

The power of a curious mindset:

* Curiosity is about really taking notice of what’s around us and finding novelty and meaning even in experiences that are familiar.

* When we are curious, we see things differently; we use our powers of observation more fully.

* We feel more alive and engaged, more capable of embracing opportunities, making connections, and experiencing moments of insight and meaning; all of which provide the foundation for a full and satisfying life experience.

* Studies have shown that a healthy sense of curiosity positively correlates with intelligence.

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. ~Albert Einstein

The good news is that the power of curiosity can be cultivated.

Keep an open mind: The natural thing to do when faced with a question or challenge is to do the thing we have always done. It can be tough to overcome those stubborn tendencies however the ability to remain open to new experiences and possibilities is essential to cultivating a curious mindset.

Focus on possibilities: When faced with problems or obstacles, rather than focusing on how something can’t be done, instead ask yourself how it could be done and how it could happen. Possibility thinkers train themselves to use curiosity to question and reframe problems and obstacles in ways that lead to spark creative thinking and in doing so discover possibilities that were hidden or nonexistent until we they started thinking optimistically.

Commit to lifelong learning: Lifelong learning is a lifestyle choice. The more we are curious about the world, the more possibility there is of pursuing fascinating careers and hobbies that lead us to interact with other curious and imaginative people. In this way we are continuously challenged intellectually and emotionally. We always have books we want to read, places we want to go, and sights we want to see.

Gently, but relentlessly nudge the boundaries of your comfort zone: Whether we realize it or not, most of us put a lot of work into ensuring that certain things in our lives remain constant …and the longer we live within our ‘zone’ the more difficult it is to move beyond those boundaries . . . familiar places, people and activities, even the habits we long to break.

The best way to begin identifying your boundaries is to look at your habits and routines. If you always and only read mysteries or thrillers why not try a fantasy novel for a change. Are there certain kinds of music or types of movies you’ve never experienced? Maybe there are certain kinds of foods you’ve never tried because you assumed you wouldn’t like them.

Opening yourself to experiences can have a domino effect as you become more confident and curious about the world around you.

It takes half your life to discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ~Napoleon Hill

Every day we are learning and discovering new things; we just usually don’t realize it because the noise and activity of everyday life so effectively overshadows those little gems.

Setting aside a little quality time for self-reflection at the end of the day can make a huge difference in your life. Change is often thought of in terms of big events, but reality most change takes place in small events and experiences that cumulate over time.

Author's Bio: 

Marquita Herald lives in Maui, Hawaii and is an author, transformational guide and the creator of the life by design blog Inspired Gift Giving (IGG) Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas. She is dedicated to inspiring readers to embrace that regardless of age or the circumstances of your life, it's never too late to become the person you were meant to be. Visit IGG at http://www.inspiredgiftgiving.com and learn how you can receive a free copy of the 12-Step Guide to Greater Resilience.