“The secret to happiness is this: Let your interest be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.” – Bertrand Russell
I used to dislike The Simpsons. I had never seen an entire episode of the show, but I had heard and seen enough to be sure that I didn’t like it. Then I watched a couple of episodes all the way through, and I was amazed at just how funny and clever the show actually was. I was also amazed at just how closed-minded and limited I had been to reject a show that I had never seen. I’ve done this with other things, too, including movies, music, people, authors, websites–you name it. I’ve later been proven wrong in my judgment and willingness to reject something due to first impressions.
Have you ever suggested something that you know to be wonderful to someone else, only to have that person say, “I’m not interested in that”? It can be one of the most frustrating things in the world because you know just what that person is missing, and you know that it’s great. But they won’t have anything to do with it.
Do we do that ourselves, though? Even if we aren’t reacting to another person’s suggestion, don’t we reject things because it’s not in our field of interest? How many great learning experiences do we miss out on because we keep our interests artificially narrow, and we react to things that are different or somehow threatening by keeping them out, pushing them away from us, at least mentally if not physically.
We don’t have to be interested in everything. I truly don’t care who wins the next NASCAR race or the EPL or the NBA championship, but I do know enough about these sports to be able to understand a conversation that I might be a part of. Many people in the world are interested in such things, and if I can at least understand where they’re coming from without being judgmental, then we have a touchpoint, something in common that will allow us to make at least some sort of contact.
Keeping our interests wide and varied keeps us wide and varied, and opens up many doors that otherwise would be closed.
Questions to consider:
1. In what ways do you limit your own interests?
2. How do you feel when someone judges your own interests as “stupid” or a “waste of time”?
3. How easy is it to be friendly rather than hostile?
For further thought:
“The life that is sharing in the interests, the welfare, and the happiness of others is the one that is continually expanding in beauty and in power and, therefore, in happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Trine