Searching for Happiness? Relish the Unknown, Professor Says

Posted: September 7, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: September 7, 2010 at 8:25 am

Todd Kashdan

Contrary to conventional thinking, searching for happiness, certainty and safety often gets in the way of the fulfilling life we want, says Todd Kashdan, featured speaker for Mason’s Sept. 13 Vision Series lecture.

Kashdan, a Mason associate professor of psychology, will discuss “The Science of Happiness and Meaning of Life” in this lecture, which will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus.

The real key, Kashdan explains, is harnessing and intensifying our curiosity. Cutting-edge research shows that curiosity is an overlooked and powerful tool for creating a rich, meaningful existence.

When we are open to new experiences and relish the unknown, positive events linger longer and we extract more pleasure and meaning from them.

And when one is genuinely curious it is not possible to be aggressive, Kashdan asserts. Instead, a curious attitude strengthens relationships, whether negotiating with colleagues, attracting friends or igniting passion in romantic relationships.

What’s more, evidence shows that highly curious people live longer and live better. Curiosity is one of the few things that can demonstrably alter peoples’ lives. Best of all, people can learn to wield this underappreciated strength.

Kashdan has explored this topic in-depth in his well-regarded book, “Curious? Discovering the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life,” which was published in 2009. That same year he also co-wrote “Designing the Future of Positive Psychology: Taking Stock and Moving Forward.”

Curious? Find out more about this fascinating topic that affects us all.

The lecture and following reception with the speaker are free, but tickets are required. See the Center for the Arts web site for more information.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu