Do you consider yourself to an introvert, an extrovert, or a mix of the two called an ambivert. This article by Meghan Holohan explains that introverts can teach us all a lot about being more mindful and not over-sharing so much.
By Meghan Holohan and Today
When it comes to personality, there are endless articles about extroverts’ amazing qualities and how people can best emulate extroverts. In some ways, it makes sense. Research shows that extroverts are happier, have loads of friends and feel supported. A recent paper even found that when introverts act like extroverts it boosts their moods.
Yet, introverts bristle at always being told to act like extroverts. That because introverts know that their lives are “rich and full and not the lack of something,” Laurie Helgoe, associate professor of behavioral sciences at the Ross School of Medicine, explained to TODAY.
People’s personalities exist on a continuum from introverted to extroverted with most being an ambivert — meaning their personalities fall somewhere between extroverted and introverted. Extroverts are outgoing, impulsive and bold, while introverts feel fulfilled through solitary activities and limited, meaningful social interactions.
Introverts have some distinct qualities that other people can learn from.
1. Introverts know when to say ‘no’.
There’s a misconception that introverts dislike being around others. In fact, they do enjoying spending time with friends and family, just not as much.
“It is not the case they never want to be with other people,” Soto said. Instead, “they need to do less … with their social life.”
This means that introverts are more likely to say “no” to joining the wine and painting girls’ night, attending the local music festival, party hopping or volunteering for every PTA event.
“Everybody can still be subjected to FOMO, but I think there is that advantage that introverts have that we find refuge in solitude,” said Helgoe, who wrote the book Introvert Power.
“There is so much outside social stimulation that tells us who we should be and how to spend our time. Introverts are better able to detract from those temptations and evaluate what I want and what works for me.”
2. Introverts don’t share everything.
Whether it’s at work, a party, a child’s soccer game or the grocery store, many have encountered that person who overshares.
“Extroverts are more at risk of doing that … just dumping things on people and disclosing too much information and not having a filter,” Christopher Soto, an associate professor of psychology at Colby College, told TODAY.
An introvert, on the other hand, provides relief.
3. Introverts won’t act recklessly.
It’s less likely that person in the ER after an e-scooter accident is an introvert, experts say. While some might think it’s lame, introverts aren’t into risky behaviors and that might mean they avoid accidental injuries — and unusual causes of death.
“Sky diving, fasting driving, risky leisure activities tend to be less appealing for introverts and that’s probably good for their health,” Soto said.
4. Introverts pause before speaking.
Extroverts love it when someone tells them they’re witty or smart or interesting, so they often jump into conversations as much as possible to get the high of the validation. Introverts don’t need that reinforcement as much and feel less compelled to speak to fill space. This means they’re less likely to say the wrong thing or offer knee-jerk response.
“That is a strength that introverts have. I will sit and think of what everyone is saying,” Hegloe said. “Extroverts could allow more time to consider their responses and polish them a little to be a little more mysterious or have a poker face and let people wonder what they are thinking.”
5. Introverts observe the world.
Being mindful can reduce stress and anxiety and improve health. Introverts often engage in reflection and observation, which feels similar to mindfulness, and allows them to experience the moment.
“A pastime that is underrated and misunderstood with extroverts is observation,” Helgoe said. “Observing like an artist observes, taking in images, noticing but that is from a position of solitude. Being in the world and not of the world.”
This attention helps introverts see the world in a different way, like “a work of art or story that enriches life.”