This post surveys a number of different sources and opinions on how to be a more interesting person. This isn’t merely about improving yourself socially or making your interactions more enjoyable, but also about achieving your full potential as a human being. In this post, I mention specific activities, but it is important to choose activities that align with your personal interests as otherwise, you are much less likely to invest the time and effort required to master them.
Please read this article which explains the need that these survey articles fill.
How do I become a more interesting person?
Moses Namkung argues being interesting is about being curious, “restlessly seeking out knowledge” and accumulating new experiences. He claims that they have “merged their personal interests with their work/main purpose in life” and pursue productive activities instead of just vegetating.
Kat Li suggests travelling, learning a language and experiencing foreign cultures. These will help you develop a new way of seeing the world. She notes that although it is good to have a wide variety of experiences, it is generally worthwhile to have at least one area in which you are a true expert, so that you have something that is unique.
Scott Danzig defines interesting as knowing something others don’t, being able to do something others can’t or something that is different. He further suggests that creating a sense of mystery by not revealing certain information can make you more interesting too.
How can you live an interesting life?
Leo Polovets suggests three rules. Firstly, to be willing to do things by yourself, instead of needing someone to come with you. Secondly, saying yes to as many opportunities as possible. Thirdly, to stop caring about what is normal or expected.
Emmet Meehan says that you should be different, but not different just for the sake of being different. He says that if you wear neon green shoe laces it should be because you want neon green shoe laces. He also suggests that something as simple as reading a new book or listening to a new radio station will make you more interesting.
Bud Hennekes explains that some of his best experiences have come from talking about strangers. He notes that if you surround yourself with interesting people you are more likely to end up being interesting yourself. He also argues that you should step outside of your comfort zone and not be afraid of failure, as failure is often interesting in itself.
Many of Greg Strange‘s best experiences came as a result of avoiding preplanning or backup plans. “Go where you will have to depend on your wits, your bravado and your humor. No matter what happens, no matter how good or bad the trip turns out, no matter whether you regret it or not, you did it and you did it on your own.”
Michael Huggins tells some interesting stories of how minor events helped him discover new interests. For example, he saw someone play a few bars of harpsichord on television and when he investigated further he discovered he had a fascination with Baroque music.
Wikihow suggests going to local events (such as markets or festivals) or reading a new book every month. You may also consider taking courses online (good sites include Khan Academy, Coursera or Udemy).
Career Sherpa notes that if you are interested in others, they are likely to reciprocate and be more interested in you. It is often stated that you should ask open ended questions. For example, “Tell me about your family” provides your conversation partner more space to steer the conversation to something interesting than “How many brothers do you have?”.
Mark Manson explains that in order to be interesting, you have to take risks. “If you live a non-polarizing life, then you are not going to be attractive or unattractive. You’re just going to be boring. More of the same. Dime a dozen”
He also suggests developing artistic taste. Compare “I really liked Terminator” to “Terminator was great. But what was more interesting to me is that it was the first movie in which you ended up rooting for the villain”. He suggests trying to appreciate the value of all kinds of film and music – as opposed to dismissing entire genres and to judge art based on its intentions, not just results. He suggests that the best way to get into a new genre is to start by consuming the media that is generally considered the best or most critically acclaimed.
Forbes suggests embracing your “innate weirdness” and doing “something. anything”. It also suggests finding a cause that you care strongly about since even those who don’t care so much about it themselves can admire your passion.
Succeed socially warns that can be “extremely well-round and accomplished”, but you’ll still need some degree of social skills to be socially successful. It also discusses the issue of topics that are socially practical to know. It argues that there are significant benefits to picking up this knowledge, but sometimes “even if it would be practical to learn about them, we still can’t be bothered, and we can live with the consequences”.
- Keeping up with the news will give you easy topics of conversation
- Subscribing to a Word of the Day site. Sometimes all it takes to make an idea interesting is to say it in a different way
- Checking out a new style of music. People who share your tastes are likely to have similar personalities.
- Picking up a new hobby will make you more interesting. Several suggestions have been listed so far. A few more popular ones are dancing, cooking and learning to play an instrument.
- Becoming more interesting is about developing what is unique about yourself. The advice commonly given is “be yourself”, but I find it much clearer to say, “be the best version of yourself”. This clarifies that it is perfectly fine to change the things that are holding you back socially, so long as you don’t compromise your individuality.
Regarding suggestions: I want this article to focus more on being an interesting person, rather than being an interesting conversationalist. Some ideas about conversations slipped in here, but I'll probably shift them over to the article on conversation when I get around to writing it.