January 16, 2018

Introverts Get Happy on Less

When our kids were little, my husband always wanted to have people over but I rarely did. I felt out of energy at the end of the day and having people over (as much as I loved said people) sounded horrible. I wanted quiet and solitude with a side of cuddling. I felt guilty and selfish for not wanting to be social. Often I would give in, but feel resentful for it. I hated telling my husband and kids that I wasn't up for company because I felt like the bad guy, the party pooper. Being extroverts, they couldn't understand me.

But now I realize why. 

Reading through The Introvert Advantage, I learned some key pieces of the puzzle. According to Laney, 

Introverts actually get energy or dopamine hits much faster than extroverts. 

That's why it doesn't take a whole lot for an introvert to be happy. Sitting under a quilt with a good book is dreamily stimulating for me. While the same "hit" would take my husband multiple outings and/or multiple people interactions each day.

I used to feel frustrated that my husband couldn't just enjoy being home instead of going out. But now I realize that staying still too long feels suffocating for him, just as going out too much or interacting often is draining for me.

Since introverts reach their "hit" faster, they can become overstimulated easily. 

This is why at parties they seem to wilt, sometimes with glazed-over eyes. They often seek solace in less crowded areas, like the porch or the bathroom. You'll often see them sitting in a corner away from the crowd.

I've learned to conserve my energy if I have multiple interactions coming up. 

I give myself quiet and solitude in the hours or days ahead, immerse myself in a book or intimate discussion with a close friend. These things fill me up and get me ready to dispense energy out. I'm much less judgmental about my family's need to go and do things these days, but I'm also more vocal about when I need to quit.

Sometimes keeping the balance is simply going home for an hour to sit in the calm and allow the over-stimulation to settle down. Sometimes it's refusing an invitation to go out because I've already exerted too much for the weekend. Sometimes it's taking two cars so I can leave early.

I used to feel weak because I was happy with small things. I love repetition and all things familiar. It made me feel boring next to my adventure-seeking family. But now I see the strength and beauty all of us bring to the table. My extroverted family convinces me to try things I would never try on my own and they keep me from being a recluse. I help them rest and notice the simple pleasures in everyday life.

Both perspectives are needed.

Instead of feeling trapped by being an introvert, I now understand my strengths. I go deep. I'm easily entertained. I enjoy life. 

Introverts get happy on less and that's a good thing!

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