How to Have an Interesting Life

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A while back someone e-mailed me and asked me how I had so many interesting experiences in my life. I meant to write him back, but couldn’t find the e-mail.

First of all, what constitutes an interesting life? Do we care if OTHER people think it’s interesting? Do we care if WE think it’s interesting? Does it just have to be different?

For me it boils down to having a life that is exciting to live. I get a kick out of knowing that other people are interested in my life, but at the end of the day I’d take personal satisfaction over people thinking I have personal satisfaction.

Every day when I wake up I’m excited about my new day. I know, from experience, that I can’t possibly predict what will happen that day. By the end of the day I may be in another city, I may have met a new best friend, I may have found a new hobby, or I may have completely altered the course of my life.

This feeling of uncertainty isn’t the definition of an interesting life, but it’s a strong indicator of one. Interesting things happen to me with enough frequently that I am not surprised when one comes around.

Another reason my life seems interesting is because most people DON’T have interesting lives. It’s the contrast.

Let’s look at some stats.

The average person works 8 hours a day.

They watch 4.5 hours of TV a day.

They sleep for 7 hours.

Taking a shower and getting dressed is 30 minutes.

An hour for dinner and breakfast combined.

Another hour commuting.

That’s twenty two hours.

This is the AVERAGE American. He doesn’t have TIME for an interesting life.

I work for two hours a day.

I watch 30 minutes of TV/movies per day on average

I eat for two hours.

It takes me half an hour to dress and shower.

I sleep for eight hours.

That’s 13 hours. I have 11 hours each day to fill with interesting things.

Even if the average American HAD 11 hours to fill, most still wouldn’t be interesting. Why? We are conditioned from BIRTH to be boring.

Parents have one mission – to ensure the survival of their children. Not to ensure the outlandish success and happiness of their children, but mere survival.

I had a near perfect childhood. My parents were married, loving, supportive, had enough money to put nutritious food on the table, had reasonable but strict rules, and made their children their top priority. By any metric, I had a fantastic childhood.

However, if I had followed all of my parents’ advice I would lead a boring life. Interesting doesn’t ensure survival – caution does. Unfortunately, caution also prevents an interesting life from unfolding.

Most people reading this don’t follow their parents’ advice anymore. You probably don’t get much advice anymore. However, your parents have drilled into your subconscious that you need to be cautious and careful.

You don’t.

There are three main kinds of risks you need to take. Here they are, in order of importance.

Social risks. Social risks have ZERO cost to them. Go talk to someone new. Say what’s on your mind. A good example is the time that I went and collected on a random bad check. It was awkward and a huge social faux pas, but it was a blast. Even if the end goal is personal satisfaction, think about what will make a good story.

Financial risks. It’s pretty well established that the only way to make money is to risk your own money. Getting a job doesn’t count – it’s not real money. If you’re a smart person (and if you read my blog, you probably are), you will NEVER be broke for a long period of time. There just aren’t any homeless people who are really smart.

Put your money where your mouth is. If you have a great idea, DO IT. I’ve never written about this, but in college I started a hedge fund for my friends and I. We all put all of our money in it, and within a year we lost it all. $26,000. Oh well. I learned a lot, all of my friends are still my friends, and we moved on. I put all my money into the gambling thing (as well as the remainder of my college money), and that turned out to be a hit. If I didn’t take risks I’d still have my $5k from the hedge fund, but I wouldn’t have had the hundreds of thousands from gambling.

The last type of risk you should take are physical risk. I’ve jumped a freight train, climbed a radio tower and several cranes, bought a competition paraglider and tried to fly it with no instruction, gone skydiving (not actually dangerous), gone scuba diving, skiied with sneakers on ice behind a car, and made a swing to go off the roof of my condo building. I broke a little toe once which healed on its own.

Thanks to our parents we GREATLY overestimate our chances of getting hurt. Occasional pain is worth having an interesting life.

Anyway, I’d like to write more but it’s been forever since I posted, so I’m going to slap this puppy up on the blog. If all else fails, think : “What Would Tynan Do?”

If you don’t know… go to the forums and ask me.

Categorized as Uncategorized Tagged


  1. You remind of that guy who wrote “4 Hour Work Week.” You spend most of your time just living the way you want to live and let the money thing work itself out. Very inspirational post.

  2. “I watch 30 minutes of TV/movies per day on average”

    Says the man who turns on Arrested Development after an average of 30 minutes socializing ALMOST EVERY TIME.

  3. Awesome post. I like the reaffirmation of my current beliefs since it’s so hard to find these days. It doesn’t help that I quit my job to live with my parents. Been happier than ever though.

    doing what you want to do + certainty + uncertainty = interesting

  4. There’s living an interesting life, and then there is living a socially responsible life doing something to make the world a better place. I wish alot of people got lucky and made enough to work 2 hours a day, but life isn’t that easy for everyone. If you have ever been to a third world country, to many there a “safe but boring” life is a dream.

  5. re: There just aren’t any homeless people who are really smart.

    Actually there are. A disturbingly high percentage of homeless people are ex-military and they just can’t cope with civillian life any more – a lot of homeless people are addicted to alcohol and drugs… and you don’t need to be stupid to suffer from either of those either.

    I have a feeling that an interesting life might be a function of the variety of people you know – specifically those outside your comfort-zone. Just because someone is mal-adjusted I wouldn’t assume they’re not smart.

  6. I would agree that the variety of people you know does play a big part in keeping life interesting. My last few adventures have been a result of friends inviting me to do different things.

    One has to be totally willing though to get out of their “comfort zone” in order to experience the diverse fun that life has to offer, and in that sense, it all falls on the individual to do what it takes to have an interesting life.

  7. For someone that spends so much of his time doing interesting things, you seem to write a lot of blog posts…

  8. I really like what both “John Smith” and “Nick Taylor” had to say. The point of the article is fantastic- don’t fall into a rut just because it’s “safe,” take risks and be adventerous. That’s a piece of advice that anyone can draw from. However, when you say things like, “There just aren’t any homeless people who are really smart,” you make yourself look like an ass. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met have been what you might call “weird smart.” They’re extremely bright, but something upstairs just isn’t wired right. A person could be an absolute genius, but have a mental disorder, like sever autism, that prevents them from being able to function in a society. Even (typically) less-severe characteristics of a person, ie: chemical imbalance, can prevent that person from being able to do a lot of “normal” activities like holding a job, keeping relationships with friends or raising a family. But that certainly doesn’t make them stupid. You were born with your particular genetic make-up and others were born with theirs.

  9. Good post Tynan!

    I think most Americans do NOTHING to improve their lives. They’re content with sitting in front of the television and let it dictate their life. You’re definitely right, people ARE generally boring and they don’t feel the need to make changes.

    It’s actually pretty easy to live a fun life…get rid of the things which don’t bring you DEEP happiness (video game, tv, long commute times) and focus on improving your social circle and taking some risks.

  10. “#On 08.30.07 chaz wrote these pithy words:Just because your ex military doenst mean your smart. I would agree that most homeless people are not smart.”

    And just because someone can use a computer and post a knee jerk “me too” doesn’t make them mensa material either. Military service does speak to a certain basic level of education and intelligence, and lack of social coping mechanisms, or mental trauma resulting in same, doesn’t make you an idiot.

  11. Having never seen your blog before, in this post you come off as more arrogant than interesting. Can you point to some “best of” posts to indicate what makes your life so interesting? Since I work more than the average American, I don’t have enough free time to look it up myself.

  12. Tynan, dude- you’re in Austin; you know Leslie’s a genius…

    I stumbled on to your blog today from Lifehacker and am not at all surprised you’re here in Austin!!! Keep up the risks! 🙂

  13. “I had a near perfect childhood. My parents were married, loving, supportive, had enough money to put nutritious food on the table, had reasonable but strict rules, and made their children their top priority. By any metric, I had a fantastic childhood.”

    Sounds like you got off to a great start…there are many, many people in the States and abroad that spend their days working hard to pull themselves up to where you began.

    You know, it’s funny that we Americans actually consider having all this free time to goof-off and waste time with “adventures” when the rest of the world is spending their time just trying to survive.

    Maybe you should use some of your 11 hours of spare time doing charity work? Maybe help out those who are less privileged than you were?

  14. nonsense article, you don’t have to try new shit to be enjoy life, you can make is simple and get things that way.

  15. re: there just aren’t any homeless people who are really smart.

    I like your article, but I found this offensive.

    Amongst the homeless people I know, many are, as Nick Taylor mentioned, ex-military or substance-addicted. We also see a lot of individuals suffering from disease whether mental or otherwise, many of whom became homeless initially because they couldn’t afford both housing and medical care. Another thing I see a lot is kids who ran away from abusive households or were disowned or simply went away one day and were never looked for. Especially in my city, where the cost of living is very high, you also get a lot of homeless people who are simply victims of circumstances. For example, last year, the average social security cheque in our poorest district paid about $659/month whereas a SRO in the same area costs an average of $660. If all your savings are going towards rent alone, what’s going to happen when a medical emergency comes up? Or if you’re simply disabled or aging or chronically ill?

    Not all us homeless/ex-homeless people are just really stupid. Ditto Kyojitsu: if you have 11 hours of spare time a day, why don’t you come help some of us who are less privileged than you?

  16. interesting post.

    I would be very interested to see/hear of some of the interesting things that happen to you in an ordinary week.

  17. An interesting life isn’t going to make you happy. Happiness is a much worthier cause than being interesting. In any case, I do understand pushing the envelope is a primer for growth, but I don’t see where you’re going by criticizing a person working for a living. All of these risks you talk about can be done in the workplace or on the weekends. The intiative has to be there, your lifestyle doesn’t determine that.

  18. Looks like the Lifehacker crowd jumped in here. 🙂

    I think that people who read Lifehacker are probably already content and satisfied. Especially since they are probably feel they are improving themselves everyday with “life hacks”.

    I think this post really addresses a huge portion of the population who have this huge urge to do something else with their life or are seriously depressed with a bleak outlook on life.

    Anyway, doling out such sudden criticism alarms me. I wonder how many other things you block out in your life.

    Keep posting Tynan. Just felt like balancing some of the negativity out.

  19. interesting read, nothing new said here, but still interesting. the one peice of advice i could give to living an interesting life is keep it simple. once you learn to eliminate certain objects from your life, the sooner you will realize that you have more available time and you really don’t need that much money to live your life day to day.

  20. I particularly like how you’ve downplayed the risks of financial and social activities that a typical person would be overwhelmed with. It makes these activities seem more do able/ work able and definitely helps people keep an open mind.

    Personally, I am relatively risk-adverse, but have been trying to open up and just live an interesting life. This post has helped me in the right direction! Thanks!

  21. I enjoyed your post. However, I have to disagree with the following sentence:

    “There just aren’t any homeless people who are really smart.”

    First, unless you have experience with a statistically significant group of people who are homeless in many different areas of the world, it’s unlikely that you have enough evidence to prove that there aren’t ANY homeless people who are smart. This is a hasty generalization and a fallacy in logic.

    Secondly and more importantly, it’s an assumption that is damaging to those who happen to be homeless and are trying to improve their lives and change their situation. It’s harmful to make stereotypes like these — and even more harmful to spread the stereotype in writing.

    I work in a program where we provide free university-level education for people who are homeless, and I can say as an educator that I have encountered many very intelligent people who happen to be homeless. Many go on to law school or graduate school to become educators themselves. They are very intelligent and have proven it, both in and out of the classroom.

    There are many different reasons that people become homeless. Having a lack of intelligence, I think, is not one of the most common.

  22. I wish I had a trust fund so I only had to work 2 hours a day. Get real, most of us have bills to pay. My parents stopped giving me an allowance a long time ago.

  23. “However, if I had followed all of my parents’ advice I would lead a boring life. Interesting doesn’t ensure survival – caution does. Unfortunately, caution also prevents an interesting life from unfolding.”

    And if they’d followed your advice (ignoring the whole time travel issue for the moment) then it’s unlikely that you’d be able to live the life you live now. What they did for you was selfless, not boring, and what you’re advocating a more selfish way of life. I think the several posts suggesting you use some of your spare time to help others underlines that fact.

    I’m not saying I’m perfect. I have a wife and three young children and I’ve just decided to get a motorcycle. That does nothing for my family (except perhaps worry them) and whilst it’s exciting for me I’m under no illusion that it’s anything other than an entirely selfish act. It’ll be fun, but for me true happiness lies with my friends and family, not risk and adrenaline.

  24. well here i am (the girl from the daily juice) finally checkin out this website of yours, i must say i am impressed. I am the kind of person who enjoys observing people as well as picks up on peoples vibes very easily and quickly but observing you…well i wasn’t expecting all this. i admire your determination and will to do as you damn well please. I am very young and my worst nightmare is to live a life where everything and i do every step i make is revolved around $$$money$$$. i want to live a life that is different than your average american ((what you were explaining)). People f****** suck ((most people that is…they’re boring!!)) i have traveled a bit and that is definitely a life i want to live and experience more. Anyways well i hope you will get this soon, after you left (the daily juice) i began to feel not bad but…well yeah i geuss a bit bad…i dont know you but i dont want to start a freindship with someone with “no trust”…although checking out your website is not to prove anything to you. i have not read everything you have to say but so far you seem very interesting, fun, intriging, and very with it and together…which is a lot farther than most people are today…good job man. 🙂

  25. Those who commented negatively on the main ideas in this post are probably not living interesting lives.

    But have fun with the community service!

  26. I like that part about the physical risks -what you did sounds very exciting. Not too long ago I taught myself that as long as what I’m doing is legal, social risks are nothing to worry about. I also learned that many times, simple = boring.

    You sound like a fun, non-boring person. I’d like to have somebody like you around and I’d clone you, but that isn’t legal.

    (Don’t listen to the haters. They aren’t your parents, so they can’t tell you what to do with your time.)

  27. Well, this discussion is surely proving that there are plenty of dumb people out there who are not homeless.

    How about you drop it and just take the post for the insight that it was designed to have?

  28. Secondly and more importantly, it’s an assumption that is damaging to those who happen to be homeless and are trying to improve their lives and change their situation. It’s harmful to make stereotypes like these , and even more harmful to spread the stereotype in writing.

    How is it harmful to homeless people? If they are homeless I doubt they are reading Tynan’s blog.

  29. wow i came upon this site on a random search (writing a screenplay, wanted to check if a line i wrote was around anywhere else) and while I actually do agree with the main points of this article, I have to say whoever wrote it is so far up their ass that it is amusing. and the praise they get. oh man. redefines self-importance. at least somebody pointed out the homeless issue. also, “interesting” can mean very different things for different people. and, not everyone has the options to “live an interesting” life. especially when you are responsible for other people, like kids, sometimes it limits your options. and I say this as someone who is not held down by such things. so yeah, stupid article written by somebody who obviously knows very little about real suffering or the real complexities of the world. but then that’s most of bloggers isn’t it 😉

    oh and it can be harmful to people if you bad mouth them not because they will read it, but because anybody can read it and dumb people will take whatever they read as gospel.

  30. Ironic running across this site, when searching moving out advice…this post especially helpful to those living the very sheltered, overprotective, hovering lifestyle and wanting to get the hell out but questioning the motives.. go do it.

    Yeah, the topic isn’t “real suffering or real complexities” its more based around self-purpose…not unhelped or unwanted circumstances in life. And at the end you referenced yourself.

  31. Substance addicted people, people with mental illness, the homeless, and those who didn’t get a good start in life all can be good people, but it doesn’t make them intelligent. Intelligence is a balance of many things, and if you can’t do anything to get yourself out of whatever position you are in you are obviously lacking in some kind of basic “intelligence”. Tynan was handed a great genetic makeup and a decent environment, why in the name of all that is good should he allow all of those less fortunate to feed off of him? Charity work helps here and there but in the end the only way to really help people is to teach them to help themselves, and if they don’t want to learn why waste your time? Either way, if helping others in need is what gets your rocks off then be my guest, go save starving aids babies in Botswana. Tynan does what he wants and I applaud that. Anyone who doesn’t missed the point.

  32. I have been looking for ways to make life more interesting. This really helped (=. Thanks for this! On Monday I’m going to go talk to someone I’ve never talked to before. But I think you missed a few things. There’s more to making life interesting than JUST taking risks. I think variety plays a big part. You need to changes thing up once in awhile. If you follow the exact same routine every single day, life is sure to be boring.

  33. i agree to this entire article.
    couldn’t have said it better myself.
    i actually found this by searching for “skydiving” in your search box.
    i’m going in may.

  34. I read all these comments. Some really interesting points. I think the circumstances for homeless people varies. But people are allowed to make their own decisions. Just because Tynan doesn’t do community service all the time doesn’t make him a selfish jackass. He helps a lot of people with this website. I’d say that’s pretty selfless. Also, teaching others to pull themselves out of their circumstances is really important. Like teaching others to be healthy to save on healthcare costs. Prevention is easier than curing. Great post though Tynan. Haha I bet no one will really read this comment since it’s way later than everyone elses. I love how individualistic your posts are. Sometimes you remidn me of me. Not to sound selfish 😛

  35. I agree with you that most peoples lives are boring, including yours. You went skydiving? Wow, congratulations and join the line of 100,000’s of people that have tried it once as well. I have over 700 skydives, and I can tell you first hand, skydiving is dangerous…when your responsible for your own life, unlike you when you went tandem attached to someone who was responsible for your fate. I also fly avidly and have my pilots license. The point I’m trying to make (and I’m not just trying to brag) is that most people are boring and never follow a passion and find what they love that is RELATIVELY UNIQUE. You on the other hand, like a average and boring person, have not followed a passion filled with risk. You merely were a tourist and after experiencing something, went back to your average life. P.s. buying a paraglider and “trying” to fly isn’t a risk, it’s a reckless and unmotivated act of trying to seem like your not average. Did you ever get off the ground with paraglider? doub it. But with a little passion, you would have seeked out instruction and would have become an avid paraglider pilot. Not the case…because you’re boring and average.

  36. Thoguht I’d add too, I’ve been an avid surfer for the last 15 years, also have been playing guitar for 15 years, and I work in the medical field (working 5 hours/day making 175k/year) doing what I love as a job because it’s a not a pencil pushing-behind a desk job that adds no value to peoples lives other than being a medium for helping money switch hands 🙂

  37. I call bs… Being social isn’t satisfying. No one wants to talk to complete strangers. Not everyone can work 2 hours a day. Why don’t you stop giving false hope and actually try to make a difference. You’re like one of those religious nuts, wasting time.

  38. You, sir, are an effing A-HOLE. No offense, by the way. Just go jump off a cliff or something. See how that works out for ya.

  39. @Eff You

    Please elaborate/justify your comment. Are you serious, or are you just being hilarious?

    I suspect Tynan has jumped off cliffs and survived to tell a good story about the experience. Maybe you should try it, too 🙂

  40. Yeah, the homeless thing is really offensive. I came from a dysfunctional family, ran away from home and was living on the streets by the time I was 16. In school I was labeled as a “gifted” child due to receiving high grades, but I would credit most of my success toward getting out of that situation as dumb luck. I’m almost finished with my medical degree which was a cake walk compared to what I went through before. Until you’ve experienced it for yourself (which you obviously haven’t) that comment makes you sound like a fucking idiot. 

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