It's pretty much human nature to want others to think we're interesting. Even for those of us who are introverted or live more reclusive lives, there's often an intrinsic desire to feel that others are interested in us and value what we have to say. This makes me wonder: What qualities make people interesting? Sure, who we like and who we invest time in getting to know is surely somewhat a matter of personal taste — not all personalities are compatible, and not everyone agrees with each others' belief systems, for example — but I there must be some traits people we view as interesting have in common, right?
Luckily for inquiring minds like mine, Jessica Hagy actually wrote a book about how to be interesting. Her book, How To Be Interesting In 10 Simple Steps, literally walks readers through the process of what traits make people interesting to others, and why. Now, Hagy's message is not to create uniformity; there is no secret formula to changing your personality or adapting certain interests that are guaranteed to make you more intriguing to your peers. Human nature just doesn't work that way, and in fact, the key with Hagy's solution is to do what feels right to you. Yes, I used the verb "do" there, which brings me to the crux of Hagy's argument: to be interesting, we need to actually do things.
I know, I know. I'd like to think that staying home all weekend and watching Netflix with my cat is interesting, but while it's enjoyable for me, it isn't necessarily going to make me appear interesting to others. And that's OK! But if you want to intrigue others, doing things (and having conversations about those things) is key. "Doing things" is a pretty broad activity, though, so what other, smaller actions might fall under that larger umbrella? Here are a few ideas to start — but there are plenty of other ways to put the principle of doing things into action out there, too!
1. Explore Things
Luckily, exploring things doesn't have to be only physical. As Hagy points out, exploring "ideas" is also a cool and interesting thing to pursue. Heck, even listening to the opinion of others is an exploration. Interesting people explore new activities, new schools of thought, new food, new languages — it can be anything, really, but the important thing is that interesting people are always learning, growing, and developing.
2. Share Things
Not everyone is talkative or naturally outgoing, and that's OK! Interesting people can share things in whichever way they feel the most comfortable: start a blog, print out photographs, send postcards, whatever. Heck, go ahead and send letters even (who doesn't like getting mail?). The important thing here is that you're sharing your experiences with others — the good, the bad, and what you learned from it all. Not everyone can travel with you to a new place or make time in their schedule for a new class, but you can still share the experience and involve them in it later.
3. Take Risks
Yes, this is the part where you may have to pause Netflix and break out of your comfort zone: Interesting people take risks. You don't have to start investing in the stock market or move across the country on a whim, but interesting people push themselves to experience new situations and environments. If you remain stagnant throughout your life, it's unlikely you're going to encounter situations in which you change a whole lot. Especially if the people you're close with have a lot of logistical factors in common with you — say you live in the same neighborhood or work at the same place, for example — there comes a point where things don't feel as fresh and exciting anymore. If you want people to be intrigued, you've gotta break out of your comfort zone, even in a small way. Besides, taking healthy risks is good for us, according to most research, so it'll help you out in more ways than one.
4. Find Something To Believe In
Belief systems are pretty personal, but as Hagy points out, interesting people have some cause they believe in. Some people choose to volunteer their time and skills to organizations they connect with, while others choose to donate money to charity. While it's always good to give back to your community in the best way that you can, I think having a cause to believe in also refers to knowing yourself and your values. What are you an advocate for? What ethical system dictates your world? What standards do you hold yourself to, and why? This isn't necessarily small talk, but knowing and sharing these aspects of yourself will certainly make you more intriguing to others — not because your beliefs have to be extremely unique or obscure, but because whenever someone knows themselves, it sends the message that they're confident, self-aware, and introspective. And who isn't intrigued by that?
All in all, the secret to being interesting is not to change yourself or conform to anyone else's expectations about what makes a person intriguing or mysterious. To be interesting, you simply have to explore yourself and share your experiences. If you're shy, or even if you're just not used to putting yourself in new situations where you might feel vulnerable, this is a lot easier said than done, but I think Hagy's advice on how to be interesting is certainly still effective.