Introverts: To find peace, try just watching {Quote of the Week}

Extroverts like having places to go and people to see. A busy weekend full of plans is a thrill—in fact, staying home on a Saturday night almost seems like social failure. When they’re out on the town, often the more going on in their environment, the better. Loud music, bright colored lights, people and lots of activity all add to the fun. They don’t hesitate to dive right into the action and interact with whoever or whatever is available.

Introverts, on the other hand, do enjoy the occasional night out or wild party, but in general, we tend to take things slower than extroverts. In fact, a favorite pastime of ours is to simply observe our environment rather than interact with it. We take it all in—the conversations we overhear, the people we see, along with the colors, textures, sounds and smells of our surroundings. We might simply sit quietly in a busy place like a coffee shop or street festival and notice what comes up in our mind. If we’re lucky, we have someone else with us with whom we can share our quirky or novel impressions (but doing this alone can be a delicious form of introvert fun, too). Often the thoughts created from these peaceful moments are the most valuable part to us, and the activity itself can be a way to calm ourselves and get re-centered if we’re feeling anxious.

Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, explains how she likes to simply observe:

Sitting and watching is a complete feast for introverts’ supersensitive sensory perception. We take it all in . . . the way people walk, how they dress, snippets of conversation. We take the time to notice what a place smells like. I like watching the light change as the afternoon winds down. I try to imagine the homes people are hustling to, heads down, filled with purpose, at the end of the day.

We are happy to sit alone in restaurants, often carrying a book only as a deterrent against pitying looks and anyone who wants to chat. We are not impatient in airports because these are hives of human activity. Introverts who are not fearful enjoy traveling alone; some would have it no other way.

After spending time observing and getting our bearings, we introverts often do jump into the action. We strike up a conversation with someone nearby or join the crowd dancing in front of the stage. Introverts don’t dislike interacting—we just prefer to ease into it.

Do you find it peaceful to simply observe? Where do you like to observe?

Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.

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  • max says:

    Hi, I am an introvert but in this case my experience is little different. I enjoy to stay home reading a good sci-fi book or watching my favorite movies. But there are moments I wonder to do a walk and stay with other people watching them. I try to imagine their lives and their dreams. I think that if I’m not able to do at least this, I would feel too much disconnected from the society

  • Allison says:

    Hi! I love to people watch. A good place is the town pool in the summer. I scan the crowd, note who I recognize from town, I listen to conversations around me without moving and try to figure out the connections people who are interacting with each other (“playing detective” my sister and I call it).

  • Rob says:

    This was a great read, and thank you for all the great articles you’ve posted here. I am a newly aware INFJ- well I was aware of the mental constitution, but I always just kind of felt like a restless nomad. We live with the paradox of being introverted but also needing that input from interacting with people in some way. For me, being along side but not necessarily part of a crowd is great. I often find myself just sitting on a bench or somewhere off to the side observing. Like you said, it’s fun to imagine the purpose, the destination, and the connections.

    I don’t care for calling it people watching, although the expression fits. I always saw it as a way to reconnect with people without them noticing. I love people, but I need a lot more solitary time than an extroverted person would, so for me, it’s both an exercise in absorbing feeling and in being part of something bigger than myself. I often find myself sitting alongside and thinking about how much I love them all even though I don’t know them. Sometimes something funny happens; sometimes you see someone commit an act of kindness; and sometimes I like to say a little prayer for them all. Or all of the above. I guess in my mind, I’ve always felt like a bit of a wanderer on a sojourn through this world. I try to leave only a shadow and take only memories and images, and maybe with any luck, I can be the person who has a kind word for someone who may need it and think no one else notices their struggles.