Journal

How to Find Interest in Everything

I was about 18 years old when I first left my humble hometown to seek greener pastures. I found myself in Singapore, pursuing studies and lodging with my older siblings.

I recall one of those days when I was out with my brother. He is the kind of person who enjoys imparting exciting news and knowledge to others, which is perhaps what makes him a great father as he always thinks of bringing his family to places he has been and found fascinating. During the walk, he was ranting away about something that I had very little interest in. It reached a point where his pestering made me snap, “I’m not interested!”

As siblings do, he snapped back something to the effect of, “You can’t have no interest in anything!”

A tiny village in England

The effects of uninterestedness

His retaliation remained etched in my mind even after more than 10 years, and I still couldn’t put a finger on the reason. Looking back, I grew up with different interests from my peers, being more exposed to Western media than Eastern. I spent much of my recess writing fiction stories while others gossiped over celebrities and TV shows.

When I discovered the internet, along with people in other parts of the world who enjoyed the same interest as I did, I got sucked into it for a long time. While I was satisfied with the tiny world I had made for myself, I was also exposed to a myriad of information in the world during a time when there wasn’t a filter. I was more involved in my online life than my real life, the latter of which felt incredibly lonely and difficult.

It was also this detached online life that made me lose interest and grow distant. My smile became fake. I became cold, unwilling to allow happiness for myself. I preferred holing myself up in my room with my laptop, and life felt meaningless. In other words, I became depressed.

It was just easier to think that nothing is great anymore, so that I didn’t get hurt or disappointed.

Opening up

It takes light and clear vision to see the better side of things. That light comes from either an external source or an internal one. In my case, I find it was both.

I don’t know exactly when I decided to look at everything differently. All I know is that when I was saved from what felt like the darkest moment of my life, I saw possibilities ahead and had a newfound gratitude for the things around me. Once I tasted these possibilities, I didn’t want to be depressed anymore. So I actively sought to create more possibilities for myself.

Just as many things in life are borne from our own perspective, it needs to be our own choice to open up our hearts and minds. While others could influence you, nobody can take that first step for you except yourself.

Not only did I allow myself to accept light, but I also worked hard to increase its brightness through practice. Sometimes, it means summoning the courage to talk to another person instead of ruminating over my own thoughts and engaging in close-minded research. Other times, it means stepping out of my room and taking a slow walk, allowing myself to blend into a larger surrounding.

And more than ever, it means trying new things or things that I thought would bore me. When I visited Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, I wasn’t expecting to be interested in dressing up in traditional hanbok, a touristy behaviour I often shun. With the excuse that I was just doing with my sister, who was my travel companion, I did it anyway, only to find myself enjoying every moment from choosing the design to treating ourselves to hours-long photoshoots across the palace. It became one of my favourite memories, and something I would do all over again.

Ever since I decided to learn, listen, feel, do, and talk about everything, my life has undoubtedly become more colourful, brighter, and more hopeful.

The social effect

It became clear to me that a big part of finding interest is allowing myself to be infected by others’ enthusiasm. My brother has been a fine example of bothering me until I relent and allow him to show me what excites him. With time, I develop the same interest and enthusiasm as he has, and I felt closer to him.

During my trip along the Mae Hong Son loop, I met a traveller whom we decided to travel together for a couple of days. When we arrived in Mae Sariang, I was tired and wanted to stay in. He chose to go out, and somehow convinced me to go with him. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have seen how charming the village is.

I had a roommate who loves everything horror. She convinced me to visit a purportedly haunted mansion with her. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter anything at the rundown mansion. But the excursion with her was so fun that, ten years later, I somehow became interested in such buildings—though I still wouldn’t visit one alone.

There’s something about doing things together that makes everything a little more interesting, especially when one of us exudes so much enthusiasm. Nowadays, I desire to be that person who helps others enjoy the same excitement in everything, whether it’s by giving tours or just inviting fellow travellers to hang out together.

Having conversations

It’s hard to believe that for most of my life, I was incredibly shy and didn’t enjoy chatting. I was always sitting quietly in a corner, and I simply didn’t know how to strike up a conversation.

I remember going to the shops with my brother after his return from Australia, it being years since we spent time together. I witnessed how natural he was at making small talk that turned into conversations with the salesperson. The act still impresses me to this day.

It took a while for me to get to that point, but practice helps. I become more curious, asked more questions, and shared my expanding knowledge. Five-minute encounters turned into hours-long conversations. My travels became less lonely, and I gained friends.

The small things

It takes climbing a mountain to see the finest views. But one won’t be able to see the finest flower in the lowest ground from the mountaintop. So instead of constantly chasing after the best, I pause to look for the good in the lesser too.

When I was in Taiwan from 2012 to 2013, I had less connection to the internet and more to my physical surroundings. I spent much of my days cycling from place to place, visiting and talking with people, discovering sceneries I never enjoyed before.

I kept a journal, detailing what I’d been doing, what I’d seen, who I’d talked to, how things were going. Thinking back, I was already keeping a journal before, but it had many depressing entries focused on myself. This time, when I looked for something to be grateful for every day, even on the most mundane days, my appreciation for small things grew, and I maintained a better headspace.

As a result, during my travels, I am able to look at the seemingly least beautiful beach and still think it is beautiful. That’s what lifts my spirit.

No matter the view, hiking is a good activity for both physical and mental health.

Persistence

When I was young, my mum said that we should eat an orange a day to be healthy. I wasn’t a fan of oranges, but I also knew that vitamin C is essential. I discovered kiwifruit and decided that I was going to like kiwifruit for my health. It took a while to get used to eating it, but eventually, I came to love kiwifruits.

That’s not to say we should force ourselves to like something for the sake of liking it, or to have to arrive at the point of absolutely loving it. A rule of thumb I give myself to take an interest in something is that it has to be beneficial to the expansion of knowledge, the development of character, and the improvement of relationship. Of course, I also must have at least a little curiosity in it. So, what makes my travels exciting?

Trying new food. Staying in a hostel and making an effort to talk to others. Visiting an attraction even if it looks boring or touristy. Waking up early to hike a mountain. Saying yes to a social invitation. Attending a class to pick up a new skill. The list goes on and on, and the more I do them, the keener I am to keep going, and the more wonderful things I discover.

Each individual will always have preferences, but not completely shunning others would help in developing a healthier pursuit of interest in life, which contains so much more than the few things we adore.

Keep within the limits

After doing all I can to gain interest, there still needs to be a balance struck. I once made a mistake by accepting an invitation out of courtesy and naivety, and ended up being difficult to undo. Since then, I’ve been careful about what I agree to do and have learned to say no when necessary.

If something goes against the law or the moral standards I stand for, or compromises my safety, then by all means, I must say no. It’s admittedly something I’m still working on, to rid my mind of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that plagues a world that thrives on social media popularity.

At the end of the day, cultivating a mindset of finding interest in everything is not merely about seeking out new experiences or hobbies, but rather about embracing curiosity as a way of life. By approaching each day with an open mind and a willingness to explore the world around us, we unlock endless opportunities for growth, learning, and fulfilment.

Whether it’s discovering the beauty in the mundane or finding inspiration in unexpected places, the journey towards finding interest in everything is a deeply enriching one. So, I hope we all join in on this journey with enthusiasm and a sense of wonder, knowing that the more we open ourselves up to the world, the more it has to offer in return.

Behind the trip

I’m Angie, a traveller, web developer and blogger behind A Head Full of Travel. I’m here to document my adventures through words and photography, kindling a love for life. You can trust that all content and advice shared here is genuine and from my own experiences.

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