Here’s how to end up with a life worth talking about: just do one interesting thing a week.
Note that I didn’t say awesome, or awe-inspiring. These are words thrown about like confetti by self-help gurus who are more interested in impressing you with how cool they are than actually, you know, helping you. In certain corners of the internet, it’s become more important to make your own achievements sound impressive than to actually achieve anything worthwhile. If you’re already down on yourself or in a bad situation, this isn’t going to have a great effect on you: you’re struggling to afford food, and people are telling you that you have to try the lobster-waffle at whatever hipster bar is suddenly cool. You can’t get away on holiday, and everyone else is Instagramming pictures of themselves hanging out with the indigenous peoples of…wherever. You can’t go to circus academy, or hang out with Terry Crews, or test-drive a Ferrari, or do whatever else the awesome, awe-inspiring people are doing.
That’s okay. All you need to do is one interesting thing a week. Let’s look at some definitions:
interestingadjective1.arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention.
awesomeadjective1.extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring awe.
What’s my definition of ‘interesting’? Simple: it’s something that you, and preferably most other people, don’t normally experience. Something that, if you told someone else about it, wouldn’t necessarily impress them, or make them jealous, but just make them go ‘…huh.’ Something that would inspire further questions. Something interesting. Like what? Glad you asked.
A really hard workout
Two suggested caveats for this: you should be able to explain it to someone in less than two sentences, and you should have no idea whether you’re capable of finishing it. A 20km row or run would be a good example, and so would doing 100 pull-ups over the course of a Sunday. None of your Crossfit-chipper nonsense that takes 20 minutes to articulate, ta (‘What’s a wall-ball?’). Single-modality workouts are one of the most interesting ways to test your willpower, anyway. They don’t give you much room to hide. Example: having never been on an AirDyne, before, I went all-out on one for about a minute. I felt like my femurs might explode and then had to sit on the floor for about an hour. Awesome? No. An interesting day? Yup.
Cooking something new
How complex this should be really depends on your current level of cookery. If you can’t cook, just a steak or a chicken would be enough. If you can already cook a bit, expand your horizons: Chris Shugart’s cauliflower pizza is a sure-fire conversation starter, even if it makes people think you’re insane. The ultimate kitchen conversation-starter is, of course, the Turducken – I’m saving that one for a quiet week.
A class in something you haven’t done before
Money a problem? Find a free one. Most jiu-jitsu academies, for instance, will let you drop in for a trial class. Dance academies won’t, but a taster’s unlikely to run more than ten pounds. Do gymnastics. Do basket-weaving. Do something interesting.
A visit to somewhere interesting
I’m privileged in this respect: I live in London, where all the best things (the National Gallery, the Science Museum, the British Library) are free. You may have to work harder, but not that hard. Go to something you wouldn’t normally go to: failing that, just walk somewhere you wouldn’t normally walk, even if it means changing your route to/from work.
Almost anything else
Most things fit the definition, as long as they’re outside your normal weekly experience. Never listened to classical music before? Commit yourself to getting through Mozart’s late symphonies, 34-41. Only ever listen to classical music? Drop £5.99 on Spotify for a month, and listening to everything in the album chart. Read a collection of short pieces in a genre you’d never normally try: the best of WC Heinz for sports writing, say, Isaac Asimov for sci-fi, or This Will Make You Smarter for actual, hard science. Get outside of what you usually do, and watch the paths diverge ahead of you.
Now, the secret. Why should you do all this? Here’s why.
Interesting things snowball.
Do one interesting thing a week, and you’ll form the habit of seeking them out, rather than shying away. You’ll become inquisitive – less scared of new experiences, and more interested in what might happen. You’ll have more to talk about. Do one interesting thing a week, and soon the interesting things will come to you.
HOMEWORK: Do something interesting this week. Post it in the comments. GET AT IT.