Whenever I encounter a puzzling challenge, I look for new distinctions I can make.  A distinction is a differentiation of two things previously assumed to be one thing.

One example is the difference between anger and aggression.  I spent a large portion of my life thinking they were the same thing.  During both I feel a forceful surge of hot energy in my body.  The difference is when one is angry, one is present and in control of themselves.  Often it is a tearful experience that is soft in nature, though still forceful.  Aggression by contrast is hard and violent.  It is a state of constant reaction.  Though they appear the same, hot and forceful, they are in fact distinct.

Another great example is asking questions that are interesting versus interested.  An interesting question makes the person asking it sound intelligent, interesting, knowledgeable, smart, or in some other way makes them look good.  Interesting questions are generally good questions, but in a subtle way the inquirer cares less about the answer, and more about looking good.

An interested question by contrast, is a question that arises from a genuine interest in the topic of inquiry.  It has no agenda of looking good.  It lacks ego.

Try this experiment: next time your in a conversation, a first date let’s say, notice if the questions you ask are interesting, or interested.  Then notice the reaction they get from your conversant.

The best way to be interesting to others is to be interested.  Its hard to fake.  Distinguish.

Originally posted October 27th 2011