To be successful and happy in life you need to be outgoing, confident, talkative and sociable. But is this really the case?
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? You may know straight away or you may think that you’re a mixture of both – most people are. We live in a world that celebrates the extrovert – to be successful and happy in life you need to be outgoing, confident, talkative and sociable. But is this really the case?
With introverts being labelled as quiet, shy and sometimes unsociable it’s no wonder that people would automatically assume a typical introvert is unsuccessful or unhappy. However, maybe it’s time to question this myth and look at introversion as a positive personality trait that almost half the world’s population possesses.
What Does The Research Say?
Studies on happiness have become more and more popular and what’s abundantly clear time and again, is our happiness it more dependant on our personalities rather than material possessions.
One study 1 looking at the behaviour of young people internationally, found that those who moved through their day in a more extroverted way, were found to lead much happier lives – this was in spite of geographical location and culture. Many more studies back this up but is this a fair evaluation?
Could The Idea That Extroverts Are Happier Than Introverts Be a Myth?
While these studies are interesting and worthwhile, there is, what could be considered, a flaw in how people’s personalities are measured. Most psychologists use what’s called the NEO PI-R assessment when conducting happiness and personality studies which only focus on the presence or absence of extroverted qualities.
In other words, there is no emphasis on positively valuing introverted qualities. If you’re an introvert yourself you can identify with the happiness you feel sitting by yourself with a good book and perhaps socialising less than extroverts, yet these are considered qualities that extroverts would associate with unhappiness.
Extroverts thrive and re-energize by being around people and interacting, but introverts re-energize by taking themselves away and finding calm and quiet. It’s because of this that introverts fail to score highly on happiness scales in controlled studies as these low-key activities aren’t considered a source of happiness.
There’s also a struggle that introverts can experience that comes from the pressure of living in a world where extroversion is celebrated. Introverts can be made to feel outcasted because they don’t measure up to the lifestyles of those with extroverted qualities. Some introverts may lead a life that goes against their natural wants and needs in order to fit in to an extroverted world. This in itself could cause introverts to feel less happy moving through life.
Embracing Happiness No Matter What Your Personality Type
So what can we conclude from this? Are these studies really giving us an accurate understanding of happiness and how we interact with the world? While interaction with others is a huge factor in our happiness, for some it’s quality not quantity that decides how we feel in our relationships with others.
But considering happiness is not all based on relationships and how often we interact, does this mean introverts are just as happy as extroverts? Eastern culture has introduced mindfulness, calm, meditation and quiet as an important way to connect with ourselves and reach inner happiness – things that introverts do naturally by spending more time alone.
Happiness is subjective. Introverts find more happiness in their inner-worlds while extroverts find happiness through their external worlds. But despite whether one is better than the other, what a lot of studies agree on is that the key to happiness is down to accepting ourselves, finding purpose, and creating a good social circle.
And what can definitely be concluded is that this can be achieved by anyone whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert.