Image courtesy of Ben Schonewille at

I have almost finished my long-running series on the 10 positive emotions identified by Dr Barbara Fredrickson.  Previous posts in this series can be found here.  Today I am looking at interest.

Fredrickson defines the emotion of interest as the desire to learn new things.  The feeling of being curious about and open towards new experiences or knowledge.

Unfortunately, many of the things we need to do in our everyday lives can be really quite boring.  However, we often fail to set aside time and energy for interesting things.  It can be easy to make excuses not to, especially when the people around us aren’t supportive of our desire to stimulate our interest.

For example, you might feel compelled to justify it.  Many people believe that if something has no concrete outcome, such as “earning more money” or “fixing the house”, then it is valueless.  However, engaging your interest by obtaining new knowledge or a new skill can have value that cannot easily easily measured in monetary or physical terms.  Stimulating ourselves mentally can promote well-being, reduces stress and increase life satisfaction.  For example, I recently saw this article on social media about the health benefits of knitting.

What is the balance of interesting to boring things in your life?  When was the last time something really got you interested?  What were you interested in as a child?  What is preventing you from engaging in something that interests you?  Are you being held back by negative assumptions (such as, “I’m too old!”… says who?!)? Or fear of how others might view it?  Have bad experiences at school put you off?  Are you acting under “The Tyranny of the Should” rather than doing something you actually want to do from time to time?

The first step is to find out what you are interested in.  This might sound simple, but if you and your desires have been buried under the expectations and opinions of others, it can be difficult to discover who you are and what you want.  You might like to browse the free courses on offer from providers such as FutureLearn and Coursera.  Such online courses can be done without having to make a set commitment, at a time of your choosing and privately at home.  Or, you could join a local club or hobby group.  Many national hobby societies have websites which will direct you to your local group.

If you are really lost, here is a great list of ideas.  Work through the list slowly, without self-judgement – and see if anything makes you say, “Ooh!”.