Thursday, July 29, 2010

Introverts and Extroverts

Flame Azalea blooming along the Ace Gap Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park  - April, 2010

At the community college where my husband teaches, a program called The Common Book Experience, was introduced a few years ago.  The "common book" is chosen by a committee and then a copy is given to every new incoming student, every faculty member and any current students or employee who requests one.  Faculty are asked to read the book and if at all possible, incorporate it into their teaching in some fashion.  This year's book, The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner, is right up my alley and I can't wait for Mr. B to finish it so I can start!  Since I have not read the book yet, my perception is based on what Mr. B has told me, so don't quote me!!  It seems Mr. Weiner traveled all over the world searching for traits of those who are happiest.  One of his conclusions was that extroverts are happier than introverts.  I take exception to that!!  If you've read my blog from the beginning, you read this post written on our 33rd wedding anniversary.  You know that I am the world's best example of an introvert married to an unbelievable extrovert.  I also want to say right up front, that I believe none of us were placed on this earth to be "happy."  But I do believe that the emotion of happiness is a by-product of a life filled with loving and serving others.  My problem with Mr. Weiner's conclusion is that we introverts generally keep our emotions to ourselves rather than out there for all to see like most extroverts.  So in order to find out if an introvert is "happy," you are going to have to dig a lot deeper than simply asking the question and recording your answer in a survey.  But if you take the time to do that, I think you'd find the opposite to be true.  Once I get started on this book, I'll let you know if he changes my mind!  Here is one thing I know for sure.  When you put an introvert and an extrovert together for 33 years, you've got a bond as strong as the trunk of the tree in today's picture and two individual trees equally as strong, but better when they are together! Both of us would tell you we are "happy" and "content," but I bet both of us would explain it in two totally opposite ways using none of the same language.

I simply cannot wait until tomorrow to share this good news.  One of my Freedom Challenge Goals was to reach 155 pounds by my 55th birthday.  Well, the birthday is not until tomorrow, but I reached the goal this morning.  Could you see my happy dance about 6:30 a.m. EST?  I've been stuck on 156 1/2 and 157 for what seems like years (actually it's only been a couple of weeks) so I never expected a two pound loss, but there it was!!  

  Jack and Ruth
Tonight is the Celebration of Life service for my dear friend, Jack, who died so suddenly last Friday evening.  This picture was taken last September in my back yard.  We hosted a party called, "A Celebration of Marriage" in honor of a young couple in our church who had just become engaged.  I invited a couple to represent each decade of marriage and asked them to type out a list of several specific things that were happening at the time of their marriage (i.e. #1 song, popular TV shows, etc.)  I also asked each couple to bring a recipe they used during their first year of marriage, a Bible verse that was meaningful to them as a couple and one piece of advice for the engaged couple.  I put all that info along with the picture I took of each couple into a book which was later given to the engaged couple as a corporate gift from all the folks at the party.  Jack and Ruth, having been married 63 years at the time, represented the 1940's and were the couple who had been married the longest.  I will treasure all of the pictures, but especially this one, for the rest of my life.  The Wednesday night following that party, was when Jack gave me the first lighthouse he had painted as a thank-you for having the party.  Please think of me tonight at 6:30 EST - Ruth asked the choir to sing and it will be one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I believe we can honor Jack best by holding our emotions together and giving our all to singing the two songs we were asked to sing.  After all, he will be watching and hearing!

One more thing about our temperaments....I've mentioned before that I use Henri Nouwen's book, Bread For The Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith as part of my morning devotion time.  How ironic that yesterday's tidbit was on the very subject of temperament.  He summed it up beautifully in one sentence that gives us guidance on how to live whether we call ourselves introverts, extroverts or something entirely different.  Here is what he says, "Let's live with our temperaments as with gifts that help us deepen our lives."

What about you?  Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?  What do you think about Mr. Weiner's generalization that extroverts are happier?  Has anyone else read this book?


  1. I think temperment can play a role in "happiness"....looking at more from the glass half full or glass half empty point of view. Some people are more pessimistic (naturally) than others....

    I really hope the service goes well. I can't imagine how Ruth must feel losing her spouse after so many years. How incredibly difficult.

  2. Way to go on meeting your goal! I am very happy for you.

    J-boy and I are both introverts. I believe we are quite happy.

    I'll think of you this afternoon. I know it won't be easy for any one.

  3. First, CONGRATULATIONS on meeting your birthday goal! Waaahooooo! :D

    Second, I'm an off-the-chart introvert. When I read the the author's opinion, and before I read your response, I had all kinds of internal mini-explosions. chuckle. That "extroverts are happier" attitude just annoys me!

    I've often said that this country values extroverts and demeans introverts. Although it is usually true that introverts tend to have more melancholy moods, I'm of the opinion that those moods have nothing to do with happiness or, more importantly, joy.

    I do recall that Jesus wasn't always singing a happy tune. Introverts think deeply, thus feel deeply--it ain't all dancing on the surface.

    Do you know that one criteria for determining a person's susceptibility for mental illness is their need to be "continually happy and light-hearted"?

    Chuckle. sorry. I digress here on my soapbox.

    Joy comes in many different kinds of containers. :)

    Third. May the Lord allow you to feel His presence and extend His love today. Sometimes a sorrow shared brings the most comfort.


  4. Sharon, congratulations on reaching your goal, and a day early no less!

    I will definitely be thinking of you this evening, paying tribute to your good friend, Jack. It is more than a celebration of his life though, because you are also giving thanks for the blessing he was to all of your lives. THAT is a celebration!

    You are an introvert? I think you are a closet extrovert, Sharon. Your posts don't hold back one iota. So, on your birthday tomorrow, I'll raise my iced water glass to my favorite closet extrovert! HAPPY 55th BIRTHDAY, Sharon, a day early perhaps, but heartfelt.

    Happiness is hard to measure, and harder to define, because it is so different for every individual. I like how you define it for yourself.

    Much happiness on your special day tomorrow, and found joy at the the celebration for Jack this evening!

  5. Congratulations on getting down to double nickels in time for your double nickel birthday! That's a great way to kick off the new year.

    Don't you feel good that you can sing tonight for Jack and for Ruth and the family? I can't even draw a stick figure, but God gave me a voice and I love to use it in his service. What songs are you singing?

    I'm an introvert through and through, except I know how to extrovert when necessary. That's probably what Ann sees in you. People are surprised when I tell them I'm an introvert, but I definitely am. Because I was a teacher/librarian in a primary school, I had to be an extrovert during the day, but DH knew that I needed a good 30 minutes completely to myself to decant and recharge after I came home.

    I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow. Happy Birthday!

  6. Happy birthday from me and the scale (really, your hard work) one day early!

    Sing for your friend. You can do it. It's a sad occasion, but it's wonderful that you can share your gift.

    I'm on the intro/extro borderline. Feel more comfortable as an intro.

    Enjoy your 55th! And I wish you many more!

  7. Good for you!!! I am an introvert. Not sure if I think it matters for happiness or not. Can't wait for you full book report:) Happy birthday!!!!!