In the Science Tuesday section of the 2/14/12 NYT was an interesting article about novelty seekers*. Heretofore a positive answer to questions like “Are you easily bored – do you thrive in conditions that seem chaotic” were linked to problems like attention deficit disorder, alcoholism, and worse.
New research suggests that “Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age… is a crucial predictor of well being… can lead to antisocial behavior, but if you combine this adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it’s not all about you, then you get the kind of creativity that benefits society as a whole…”
They call it “neophilia” and describe its role in the evolutionary success of our forebears. We’d never have left the shade much less Olduvai had we not, at least some of us, a healthy dose of curiosity. And novelty-seeking combined with two other traits (persistence and self-transcendance) turns out to be “a crucial combination… in people who flourished over the years… [and have the] greatest satisfaction with life”.
There was an online quiz accompanying this article and I figured I might as well take it. Tone was set with question #1. I wanted to answer no to “Do you ever speed” but unfortunately I’d won a $168.00 speeding ticket earlier in the day. Suffice it to say that the final results indicate that I ought to live forever and be quite happy**.
Such knowledge couldn’t come at a better time since, after thirty-five years at the same job (no sick days) it is now time for plan B and my roommate and I are excited. In case she reads this and takes the quiz though I must hasten to add that I didn’t get a ‘perfect’ score. To the question: “Away at a convention a gorgeous married colleague from another city suggests a rendezvous, you…”
I checked C “You feel insulted”. Final answer.
*”What’s New? A Penchant For Novelty Has Benefits” by John Tierney
**”You tend to enthusiastically approach the new and different as potentially rewarding and downplay any risks involved. You may live too fast and die too young, but you also explore, experiment and otherwise push the envelope for the rest of us, often in productive ways. You’re innovative, adventurous, and extravagant but also apt to be impulsive, irritable, and overindulgent regarding food, alcohol, drugs, and other temptations.”