I recently heard the suggestion that it was more important to focus on being interested rather than being interesting. The rational for the suggestion was that being interested would be helpful in at least two ways. The first was that being interested will cause you to be a sponge, continually expanding your horizons. The second was that by being interested you tend to be quite and listen making the first point easier. Listening allows one to make sense of and understand what another person is saying.

I would suggest that the attribute of being interested is a reflection of an outward rather than an inward focus. Being interested will require searching continually for new inputs. Inputs are the building block from which knowledge can be built. Another impact of being interested is that an outward focus improves memory because being interested means you are paying attention and paying attention allows you to remember what you are paying attention to.

The acquisition of information and knowledge is not a simple linear process. All human beings filter inputs. The process of decoding color is one of those simple interpretations that can have more than one outcome based on the filter applied, just ask any color blind person you know to describe the world around them to you. The difference between your interpretation and his (most color blind people are male – trust me I know as I am one of them) can be eye opening. It is important to realize that the effectiveness of your input process is dependent on your individual filters. Some are permanent like color blindness while some can be controlled. One of the most important controllable filters is your perspective on life. I would suggest that those with a positive view of the world will filter inputs differently than those that have a negative point of view. Our perspective on the world informs our attitudes. An attitude is “a process of individual consciousness which determines real or possible activity of the individual in the social world”*. In my opinion a positive view of the world will tend increase the scope of inputs available therefore making it easier to be interested in the world outside of specific sphere of influence. A larger sphere of interest yields more inputs and more to be interested in.

I see the line between positive and negative perspectives as a dichotomy. It is something I battle within myself. However I do not see the attributes of being interested and interesting as a strict dichotomy. The dichotomy comes when you focus on being interesting as a goal and curtail your journey as a seeker of knowledge. I suggest that being interested makes it far easier to be interesting at a deeper level. It is a common misconception that you must be an interesting person to get people to like you. Rather it comes down to your ability to make the other person feel special and make them feel that you really connect with them. These are acts of being interested. Which brings us back to the choices we make on how we approach the world around us. Having a positive perspective only makes it easier to be interested and to connect with the world.

* THOMAS, W. T., & ZNANIECKI, F. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. New York: Knopf, 1927.