T is for The Tingle Factor


When do you experience the tingle factor? When do you get thrills down your spine? When do you feel excited about what you are going to do?

Different people give different answers to these questions. Here are some of them.

I experience the tingle factor when I am: 

Listening to music … Setting out on a journey … Giving a keynote speech … Cooking for friends … Playing sports … Painting a picture … Being with my loved ones.

Encouraging a motivated person … Singing in the choir … Giving somebody a present … Creating beautiful things … Walking beside the sea … Making a sale.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the activities where you experience the tingle factor.

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BBC Radio 4 had a programme called The Tingle Factor in which people described pieces of music that sent shivers down their spines.

Professor John Sloboda has researched why people experience such emotions when listening to music. He strongly believes in the value of young musicians experiencing such moments of wonder. Below is a link to the summary of a talk he gave on this topic in 2002.


People sometimes embark on a vocational journey that begins with the tingle factor. They may get this feeling when playing music, climbing mountains, studying science or whatever.

Pursuing this feeling, they sometimes find it turns into a burning passion. Exploring this theme, they may find it becomes a calling that produces joy, exasperation and peak experiences.

Richard Feynman followed this path in his own way. The famous physicist radiated joy and amazement in his pursuit of truth. Here is an excerpt from a quote in which he expresses his love of science.

I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree.

Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty.

First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. I can appreciate the beauty of a flower.

At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. 

I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes.

The fact that the colours in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the colour. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms?

Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts. 

Here is an old video of him explaining the scientific method to a class.

Richard was often asked for advice about how people could pursue their own sense of curiosity. He said:

Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. 

Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. 

Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do.

Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.

You will pursue the tingle factor in your own way. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to pursue one of the activities where you experience the tingle factor.

Describe the specific things you can do to pursue this activity.

Describe the specific things that may result from pursuing this activity.

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