As an introvert, I don’t need anything extravagant to make me happy — the simple things in life are enough.
I used to think that, one day, I would finally grow out of being a shy, quiet kid. Maybe after I made it through adulthood, I’d end up becoming loud and talkative and fun-loving, magically developing all the people skills I could ever dream about.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but that sure didn’t happen. Instead, learning about introversion, and understanding what introverts need in order to feel happy, has led me to reevaluate how I try to fit myself into societal standards of happiness.
It can seem like the world is full of bright lights telling everyone to socialize, meet people, and “be happy.” Yet things that make introverts the happiest don’t often fit with mainstream culture: While introverts are, of course, diverse in our needs and ambitions, we feel content when we finally get some space, time, and quiet so we can hear our own thoughts.
If we were to measure our happiness by how many friends we have and how many dates we go on each week, well, then introverts may find themselves lagging behind. But maybe — just maybe — what the world needs is actually an upheaval of the things considered to make people happy. So, here are six reasons why I love being an introvert — ways my introversion makes me happy.
Why I Love Being an Introvert
1. I find happiness when I turn inward, inside my own mind.
The best way I can imagine spending a day? Oohh, reading, doing quiet yoga, then journaling for a couple of hours. Extrovert friends, it’s not at all a downer for me if I have to spend time alone (and in fact, I’m starting to realize I’m not actually weird for needing it). So much of what makes me happy as an introvert stems from what’s happening inside my head — not from external factors. I might look like I’m just staring at the wall, but trust me, if my thoughts could be seen in 3D, they would fill cities.
Going to a loud movie theater, though, or having to actually tell someone about my daydream? Things like that take me out of my quiet headspace and can be a source of stress rather than joy. The more I watch people struggle to deal with boredom, the more I realize it’s actually pretty cool to be able to have all the entertainment I could ever need stored right inside my very own introvert brain.
2. I find joy and empowerment in the written word.
I have such a hard time with spontaneity in a discussion: You mean you want me to respond to what you said right now, without thinking about it first? Uhhhh… (insert brain freeze here). I get nervous that I won’t have a thorough response, or that I’ll end up saying something totally bizarre.
Being introverted can absolutely make it feel like the world is against you: You’re just trying to think while everyone is people-ing all around you, and you can’t even hear your own thoughts. It just takes my thoughts a bit of time to form before I’m comfortable getting my words out — and it turns out that I, like many an introvert, actually love the thinking process. (The speaking in front of people part? That? Not so much.)
But I do find joy from being able to communicate my ideas. Taking the messy web of ideas from inside my brain and weaving it into a thoughtful comment? Now that’s my definition of happiness. Many introverts also develop perfectionist tendencies, which means that while we hold ourselves (and our communication) to a high standard, we care a lot about what we have to say. When I can communicate through writing, I feel I have time and space to say what I want to, in the way it intends to be said. That leads to a sense of fulfillment and purpose, which is the essence of what makes me happy.
3. I’m in touch with myself and my own needs.
I’m sure introverts know what it’s like to be so totally, completely, utterly, entirely exhausted: It’s like someone has flicked my “off” switch, and I just can’t think anymore until I get some time to myself. Needing quiet when the world is loud, fast, and talkative is a learned skill. For example, introverts learn to recognize the signals our bodies and minds give us that indicate we’re going to need some downtime pretty soon: I might feel I can’t concentrate well, or I’ll start getting a headache from any type of background noise. (The “introvert hangover” is real, my friends!)
But rather than being frustrated by this, I’m understanding that this is actually my body’s way of taking care of me. When I notice what’s happening, I can give myself time to step back and recharge. Because I’m an introvert, I understand myself better, which is actually pretty cool. I’m not just a strange quiet person — I’m respecting my need for solitude, and that’s a fulfilling way of being.
Practicing self-care is incredibly important to overall health, happiness included. Knowing that even just a quiet five-minute breather — such as taking a walk or a quiet meditation — can give me the energy I need to make it through a day helps me feel like I’ve respected my needs and who I am. Learning how to do this is an art that makes me a better, and happier, person.
4. My relationships with others are deep, meaningful, and highly connected.
Can introverts get annoyed by people? Sure. Do I sometimes need my time away from absolutely everyone, no matter how much I love them? Yes, yes, I absolutely do. But do I completely, entirely, fully hate people? Well… no. I actually quite value the relationships I have: They are deep, personal, and highly connected — we just “get” each other. The thing is, I want to really get to know someone: Tell me about who you are, what you dream of doing, and then show me you want to listen to me, as well.
Given the careful work it takes to form and maintain relationships, making the right connections makes us introverts really happy. With the vast majority of people, I end up feeling misunderstood and overwhelmed — so it’s amazing when I finally find someone I bond with. Maybe because this is a rare event for me, I’ve come to value it even more.
Because introverts tend to be reserved, finding the right fit in a friendship can be an amazing experience. Having a gazillion acquaintances surprise you by showing up in your house for your birthday and then not leaving? No, no, no, please no. But having a close friend or two who help you feel understood while you navigate this strange planet? Yes, exactly! While having just a few friends — or even being your own best friend — is not the societal standard of popularity, it’s the ideal of happiness for introverts. Who cares about popularity? I’m happy with my small friend circle, and that’s really all that’s needed: quality over quantity.
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5. I feel content just listening (no need to push myself to talk all the time).
Please don’t make me talk. Please don’t make me talk. Please don’t make me talk. But yes, please do tell me everything about you! I’d love to hear all about your weekend adventures, the TV series you’re watching, or that new puppy you just adopted — if I’m not deeply thinking in my own head, that is. I love listening to stories other people tell, and I find it relaxing if I get a chance to listen rather than feeling pressured to talk about myself.
In fact, my whole brain is engaged when I’m listening, whether you can see it or not (which is why it might be hard to get my attention if I’m focused on something else). You just have to catch me at the right moment — please don’t pull me out of the novel I’m reading. I’ll be happy to listen as your audience.
And while some introverts may seem hard to get to know, we’re often curious about other people. Being able to listen to a conversation can help us participate without pushing us too far out of our comfort zones. Research shows that socializing can boost our happiness, and remembering that I can be fully engaged in a conversation as a listener helps me to benefit by feeling connected without stressing myself out.
6. The simple things in life are enough to make me happy.
Simplicity really is the key to happiness. Just a few things that make me happy: sitting in my backyard with the sun on my face; a whole hour of uninterrupted reading time; baking cupcakes on a rainy day; knitting a scarf; and my library card.
We introverts just don’t need much extravagance to make us happy; in fact, overstimulation causes stress instead. It goes back to our inherent nature: We enjoy calm, quiet environments. Can it feel strange to crave quiet when the world seems to move at a million miles an hour? It can, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. Understanding that simplicity equates to happiness helps me feel more content in myself. Know that simple pleasures are not boring by any means.
Instead of wishing we could all be extroverts, the moment we start understanding our introverted nature (labeling it, noticing it, and even journaling about it can help), we can fully embrace it and start to feel our best, as our most authentic selves. When we choose, we can break out of our shells, get to know people, and be happy when surrounded by those we love. But we can also find meaningful happiness through exploring our quiet, reflective sides — and as introverts, that’s where the magic happens.