I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression “Curiosity killed the cat.” While doing some research, I learned the original source of that phrase was “Care will kill the cat.”

In the 1898 Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable it says: "Care killed the Cat. It is said that a cat has nine lives, but care would wear them all out." Shakespeare used the line in Much Ado About Nothing: "What, courage man! What though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care."

Over time the meaning was distorted to discourage people from asking too many questions. Recent research suggests that one of the key attributes of those who age vigorously is their curiosity! Eleanor Roosevelt said it well: “Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive.” Albert Einstein affirmed the importance of curiosity when he said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Every parent knows all too well that children are curious and they can get into trouble. How many “dirty” objects go into their mouths before we can catch them?

But it is curiosity that drives them to continue to learn and grow. How do airplanes fly? Where do babies come from? That inquisitive energy is essential to life.

As we age we have to keep curiosity alive. The most successful seniors continue to read books, have hobbies, play games and engage in stimulating conversations. They nurture their spiritual lives and seek new experiences.

Curiosity is not dampened by physical limitations. Even when the body doesn’t cooperate, the mind is free to explore and find new expression. Like children, we can keep our imaginations alive and continue to see the world through the eyes of innocence and wonder.

Bryant H. McGill, a human potential thought leader, says “Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” Excessive “care” certainly can kill us, but curiosity is the pathway to a long life.

Connie Mason Michaelis is a lifestyle consultant who is on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.