How can interest and curiosity be cultivated, assuming that you feel the desire to do so? Some specific advice may help.

From “Creativity” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

TRY TO BE SURPRISED BY SOMETHING EVERY DAY. Stop to look at the unusual car parked at the curb, taste the new item on the cafeteria menu, actually listen to your colleague at the office…How is this different from other similar cars, dishes, or conversations? What is its essence?…Experience this one thing for what it is, not what you think it is. Be open to what the world is telling you. Life is nothing more than a stream of experiences – the more widely and deeply you swim in it, the richer your life will be.

TRY TO SURPRISE ONE PERSON EVERY DAY. Instead of being your predictable self, say something unexpected, express an opinion that you have not dared to reveal, ask a question you wouldn’t ordinarily ask. Or break the routine of your activities: Invite a person to go with you to a show, a restaurant or a museum you never visited before. Experiment with your appearance. Comfortable routines are great when they save energy for doing what you really care about; but if you are still searching, they restrict and limit the future.

WRITE DOWN EVERY DAY WHAT SURPRISED YOU AND HOW YOU SURPRISED OTHERS. One of the surest ways to enrich life is to make experiences less fleeting, so that the most memorable, interesting, and important events are not lost forever a few hours after they occurred. Writing them down so that you can relive them in recollection is one way to keep them from disappearing. And after a few weeks, you may begin to see a pattern of interest emerging in the notes, one that may indicate some domain that would repay exploring in depth.

WHEN SOMETHING STRIKES A SPARK OF INTEREST, FOLLOW IT. Usually, when something captures our attention – an idea, a song, a flower – the impression is brief. We are too busy to explore further…Or we feel that it is none of our business…Of course, that’s nonsense. The world IS our business, and we can’t know which part of it is bestsuited to our selves, to our potentialities, unless we make a serious effort to learn about as many aspects of it as possible.

If you take the time to reflect on how best to implement these four suggestions, and then actuallly start putting them into effect, you should feel a stirring of possibilities under the accustomed surface of daily experience. It is the gathering of creative energy, the rebirth of curiosity that has been atrophied since childhood.