Time to learn something about me. I am and have always been an introvert. When I go to family functions I typically will slip away after a while to be alone or I will put headphones on to block out the noise. I despise large groups of people. I can act the part of an extravert when I need to, but it is exhausting, I honestly don’t know how they do it. I stay even keeled (most of the time). I don’t usually take this at face value and question most things without letting my emotions play to much into my reactions. I have spent that last couple days thinking and reading about the differences between introvert and extraverts and their levels of happiness and what makes them happy. So today I decided to investigate what the “professionals” are saying and read several studies and let me tell you… they do not make me happy!
If you were to google who is happier introverts or extraverts? You would find study after study showing that extraverts are always happier and will always be happier than introverts. It was mind boggling the number of times this has been researched. However, I found several flaws in these studies that I would like to share before I get to my point.
These studies questioned people and asked how often do you smile, how much do you laugh, when you meet new people do you go out of your way to get to know them on a more personal level? Questioning was along those lines and when they did observations it was more of the same, how often did they make eye contact, how was their voice pitch and tone, how energetic and spirited were they?
I can tell you from life experience you can be out going and smiling and laughing like a typical extravert and yet be miserable inside. These things may be indicators of happiness but do not correlate to happiness. At best you can say they have a positive relationship. The bs example I can think of for this is the great Robin Williams (may he rest in peace). Here was a man who lived an amazing life. He was the life of the party, always so energetic and smiling. He could make people laugh and forget their problems. He was your typical extravert. Yet, he was so sad and unhappy, struggling with depression that he ended his life. Some people are just that good at hiding their pain and suffering.
This brings me to my point.
Do not let society tell you what happiness means.
Just don’t do it. I have friends that try to pull me out of my nice little turtle shell saying that for me to be happy I need to go out more and do more things and be around more people. When that is not the case. True happiness comes from a connection to our true being. You cannot think that you will only be happy if you act a certain way or achieve certain goals. That happiness is fleeting and can do more damage than good. The definition of happiness for each person is subjective, it is driven by our own views on life and what is important. This kind of happiness is deeper- it thrives on more than just a “good day”. It is driven by the satisfaction you feel from within.
People who are introverted tend to be inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation. Many introverts actually enjoy spending time around others, with one key caveat—introverts tend to prefer the company of close friends. As an introvert, our idea of a good time is a quiet afternoon to yourself to enjoy your hobbies and interests. A few hours alone with a good book, a peaceful nature walk or your favorite television program are great ways to help you feel recharged and energized. This does not mean that the average introvert wants to be alone all the time. Many introverts love spending time with friends and interacting with familiar people in social situations. The key thing to remember is that after a long day of social activity, an introvert will probably want to retreat to a quiet place to think, reflect, and recharge
Now, for all my extraverted people reading this, please do not take offense. Extraverts are amazing and talented. You enjoy conversation, you don’t just enjoy talking to friends, family members, and co-workers; you love to strike up conversations with total strangers. You love to meet new people and learn about their lives. Extroverts tend to find such social interactions refreshing and they actually gain energy from such exchanges. When extroverts have to spend a lot of time alone, they often begin to feel uninspired and listless. If given a choice between spending time alone and spending time with other people, an extrovert will almost always choose to spend time with a group.
So, extraverts, these things apply to you just as much as they apply to introverts. I merely am trying to say that now one personality type is going to make you happier than the other. We all have things we love and things that make us happy. Understanding that, can lead to greater happiness in our personal lives. Extraverts: when your introverted friend turns you down on a night on the town don’t take it personally they could just be needing a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Introverts: when your extroverted friend is constantly asking to hang out and to go do things it is because they value your friendship and want to spend time with you.
As we all learn to accept each other and understand our fundamental personality differences we can forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around us, and that my friends will lead to greater happiness for all.