Happiness — the elusive thing that everyone wants, yet many of us struggle to get and maintain. If you’re anything like me, you’re always ruminating on how to be happy. This is true for other personality types as well, but especially for the INFJ, which is thought to be the rarest of the 16 Myers-Briggs types. Because INFJs see the world so differently, others may find it difficult to relate to us, and we may not obtain the understanding and genuine connection we so desperately crave.
Take heart, my dear INFJs. Here are three actionable steps that you can take to cultivate happiness everyday.
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How INFJs Can Cultivate Happiness
1. Develop Your Ti and Se
INFJs are known for their primary cognitive functions, Introverted Intuition (Ni) and Extroverted Feeling (Fe). However, we often forget about the remaining two functions, Introverted Thinking (Ti) and Extroverted Sensing (Se). INFJs use Ti to form an internal, logical framework of how the world works. Se is in tune with the sensory world, with real-world, tangible data.
Ni and Fe are amazing functions, and as INFJs, we naturally use them with ease. But we need to put more effort into Ti and Se. When we’re able to exercise all four functions well, we’ll be better able to make informed decisions and manage our emotions, which are important factors in cultivating happiness.
Develop your Ti by examining and strengthening your inner mental framework. Ti is rooted in logic, but since it’s focused inwardly, it may be influenced by our subjective (and possibly inaccurate) biases and experiences. Try solving some logic puzzles in your free time to exercise your mind.
You can also read books on how the mind works. Having more information on your logical fallacies and mental biases can better inform your subjective judgement of things. One book on this topic that I’ve been enjoying recently is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Develop your Se by engaging in activities that teach you to come into the present moment fully. Yoga is a great way to practice Se because it requires you to concentrate on your breathing and transitions in poses. Any physical activity or craftsmanship that you enjoy would do — like going for a walk around your neighborhood or creating art — but try yoga if you’d like an extra dose of spirituality.
Another simple exercise to try is to close your eyes and imagine any thoughts leaving your mind. Tell yourself to catch the next conscious thought that arises. You might find that the attention placed on catching that thought keeps you alert and fully in the now.
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2. Write a life purpose list
One of the toughest things about being an INFJ is that (like other introverted intuitive types) we crave a bigger purpose — but what is this purpose? To answer this, we have to turn inward and look deeper within ourselves.
Sit down with paper and pen and start asking yourself questions. When I wrote my own life purpose list, I had a guiding question in mind: “What would people feel/think about me if I died?” Yes, that question may be a bit morbid, but even some psychologists believe that mindfully thinking about your own mortality will make your life better.
Take the chance to probe deep and write down what genuinely brings you joy, peace, and happiness. Is it by giving love to others? Is it by becoming a great author? Is it by knowing that you lived every day the best you could? Maybe all three?
This exercise may force you to confront something that you’ve been running away from, but have courage and write it down no matter how insignificant or unrealistic it may seem to others. Be completely truthful with yourself, and remember, you don’t have to show this list to anyone (unless you want to).
When we write things down, we make them more real and tangible. Now that you know what resonates with you on a deeper level — and what makes you feel alive, passionate, and encouraged — you’re better equipped to pursue the things and people that matter, and back away from the ones that don’t.
3. Live with intention
Ryder Caroll, creator of the bullet journal method, proposed the idea of intentional living. This means to think and act consciously based on your values and your purpose in life, thus living “with intention.” It’s about learning how to make better decisions so you have fewer regrets and are happier.
Being an INFJ means that we’re very in-tune with the emotions of others, and we seek harmony in our relationships. While this can help us navigate relationships and forge connections with anyone, conversely, it can turn us into people-pleasers and leave us with an unstable sense of self.
I myself have struggled with this. I realized that a cheerful disposition and always going with what others wanted made them like me more, but it was extremely exhausting to adopt such a front all the time.
When I realized that people-pleasing was not benefiting me in any way, I made an intentional decision to break free from it. Essentially, that meant putting myself first. Did it mean sometimes not attending social gatherings simply because I didn’t feel like it? Absolutely. Did it mean not always being the overly enthusiastic one because it was tiring for me to keep up? Yes, yes, and yes!
If, like me, you struggle with people-pleasing, take baby steps if you don’t think you can make a big change all at once. For example, instead of completely rejecting an invitation, I might go to a social gathering but leave early. Instead of putting in enormous effort to be perceived as “warm” and “friendly,” I might stay interested but reserve my full energy for only those who I want to build/maintain a friendship with.
I know the idea of putting yourself first may sound selfish and self-centered. But hear me out: Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you become an unkind person who disregards the needs of others. It means that you start empowering yourself by acknowledging that you, too, have needs, and you actually make the effort to meet these needs.
Lasting Happiness Comes From Within
If you put in the work to find out about yourself and the things that make you happy — if you actually live according to your own sense of identity — you’ll find that external factors no longer have the same power over your mood as they once did. The type of happiness that is stable and lasting comes from within, not from friends, social media, or any external source or validation.
- The state of feeling or showing pleasure
- The state of being satisfied that something is good or right
We can call happiness a pleasurable state of mind, but at the core of it, happiness is an emotion. Because happiness is an emotion — and we are never and can never be stuck in one emotion all the time — it is impossible for us to always be happy.
That’s okay, and completely normal.
Thus, what we should strive for isn’t to continually exist in a state of happiness, but to work to invite happiness into our lives through balance, knowing our purpose, and living consciously with intention. When you do so, INFJ, you’ll find that happiness often joins along the way.
You might like:
- How to Cultivate Meaning in Your Work and Life as an INFJ
- The Surprising Dark Side of the INFJ Personality Type
- The ‘Kryptonite’ That Secretly Blindsides Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Personality Type
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