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    Revenge of the Introvert

    From Revenge of the Introvert in Psychology Today:

    Introverts are not driven to seek big hits of positive emotional arousal—they'd rather find meaning than bliss—making them relatively immune to the search for happiness that permeates contemporary American culture. In fact, the cultural emphasis on happiness may actually threaten their mental health. As American life becomes increasingly competitive and aggressive, to say nothing of blindingly fast, the pressures to produce on demand, be a team player, and make snap decisions cut introverts off from their inner power source, leaving them stressed and depleted. Introverts today face one overarching challenge—not to feel like misfits in their own culture...

    To Hell With Happiness
    In the United States, people rank happiness as their most important goal. That view has a special impact on introverts. Happiness is not always their top priority; they don't need external rewards to keep their brains in high gear. In fact, the pursuit of happiness may represent another personality-culture clash for them.

    In a series of studies in which subjects were presented with an effortful task such as taking a test, thinking rationally, or giving a speech, introverts did not choose to invoke happy feelings, reports Boston College psychologist Maya Tamir. They preferred to maintain a neutral emotional state. Happiness, an arousing emotion, may be distracting for introverts during tasks. By contrast, extraverts reported a preference to feel "happy," "up," or "enthusiastic" and to recall happy memories while approaching or completing the tasks.

    At this year's meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Tamir, along with Iris Mauss of the University of Denver, presented a paper entitled, "Come On, Get Happy: The Ironic Effects of the Pursuit of Happiness." The two did not specifically study introverts or extraverts. What they discovered is that, for all people, the pressure to be happy actually reduces happiness.

    "We found that when we prime people to value happiness more, they become more unhappy and depressed," reports Mauss. "Our findings offer an intriguing explanation for the vexing paradox that even in the face of objectively positive life circumstances, nations generally do not become happier."

    The priming effect seen in the study parallels the social priming introverts experience in everyday life. Although introverts like pursuing frontal cortex functions associated with the exploration of meaning, "there are cultural pressures that could make one feel guilty for not wanting to be as happy as the culture dictates," says Tamir. As a result, introverts are hit with a double whammy—feeling less happy, then feeling guilty and inadequate for feeling that way.

    With a biological makeup that enables them to see positive emotional stimuli as a distraction when they are focused on another task, introverts are good at resisting all distraction. Using functional brain imaging, Stanford biopsychologist Brian W. Haas measured the reaction time for introverts and extraverts when they tried to identify the color in which an emotionally provocative word was printed. Introverts proved more able to focus on the task of color identification while disregarding the emotional content and had significantly better reaction times. Concludes Haas: Introverts, who exhibit a higher resting state of arousal, "don't need the same kind of outside entertainment."

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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    Thank God someone at last recognizes me. I am so relived that I am not the only one who finds 'positive behavioural psychology' preached to me by chirrpy cheerleading psychologists, attempting to convert me with an almost evangelical zeal to the light, really, really irritating. As an introvert I must confess I tend to pay hommage at the alter of the beauty of negativity. I guess its because I am a very creative right-brained person. Unlike most in my community I am not very religious either.

    The evangelical churches have really taken to the positive psychology movement. I unfortunatly had a former therapist tell me that my negative emotions were a result in a failure to connect with God, she indicating to me that by maintaining my somewhat resistant stance, I was responsible for my own unhappiness. I left after group therapy began with everyone saying the lords prayer. The experience made me feel sad, pittied and rejected. Positive psychology is obviously be very helpful to a majority of the population but there is a small group with different brains, (like me) it is meaningless and even harmful to.

    I found the more I am forced to think positive the more I panic and then I am forced into the role of the devils advocate to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Thankfully, I now have a therapist who is a psychiatrist and more scientificly trained. She never preaches in anyway but seems to understand that I will find more peace in comming to understand my own personal truths than merely undertaking a singular mission to find happiness. When I told my old therapist, 'I am not asking for you show me the way to happiness, she freaked. My new one was a little taken back but she never made it an issue.

    You see to me, grasping the truth is more important than happiness or unhappiness. I dont care about building castles in the air and trying to find a way to get there. Its the truth of life I need to find, like the moth to the flame, I suppose. I dont intentionally seek to be miserable but if the truth makes me happy, great, if not, never mind.

    To me its not so important to die blissfully happy, I just dont want to die ignorant. Strangly, I think I may have more of an eastern philosphical type of veiw than the western one in which I was born.

    Thank you again Daniel for the post. Hey! all you right-brainers unite!
    Last edited by Steve; September 9th, 2010 at 03:37 PM. Reason: re-format

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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    I dont care about building castles in the air and trying to find a way to get there.
    Of course, many extraverts also try to stay away from the "hedonic treadmill" that leads to "American mania."

    Regarding Eastern philosophy, that's one of the reasons I like positive psychology research since it's pretty much in line with what the Buddhists and ancient Greeks were saying, e.g. one of my favorite articles in this forum:

    http://forum.psychlinks.ca/positive-...-for-them.html

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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    I'm a card carrying Introvert. I'll preface with that.

    I think there's a wide difference in our own expectations of what 'happiness' means. I think this fixation on that peak state keeps people on that hedonic treadmill in a never-ending quest for the unattainable. Once one characteristic of their perception of happiness is reached, one or several are slipped into it's place. It's an endless cycle that I will freely admit I was once on. I would ascribe that thought of happiness to be what could potentially lead to unhappiness and depression.

    Additionally, rather then 'think positive thoughts', I try to rationalize my thoughts. I have noticed that a lot of my negativity is from irrational thought processes such as catastrophizing or seeing things in black and white.

    I took a Positive Psychology course last year in which we learned Positive Psychology in research applications as well as Buddhist and Yoga teachings. I entered the class a skeptic and exited with several tools that helped me deal with my own 'dukka' or fixations. They're especially helpful when my Anxiety peaks during stressful portions of the year.

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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    From another article:

    What is it that prompts such feelings of dissatisfaction?

    For me it was the realization that my success was external. I appeared to have a very reflective life, but my life was lived very much in the external: How did someone respond to me? How did my wife respond to me? How did my boss respond to me? That's an external way of living life. And then around my late 30s that whole attitude fell apart. I realized that there is something going on inside, and that I'd been so busy watching the movie going on around me that I didn't pay attention to the inner story.

    Coming Into Our Own: Understanding Adult Metamorphosis

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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    "Don't overfeed the self. Chronically setting and pursuing goals can lead to seeing the purpose of life today as the achievement of some goal tomorrow."
    http://forum.psychlinks.ca/anxiety-a...-new-book.html

    "Setting a goal to become happier is like putting yourself on a treadmill that goes faster the harder you run."
    The pitfalls of seeking happiness - Psychology Today

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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    "Even the happiness trap can be an opportunity to cultivate the ability to be present and loving in the midst of our personal storms. This is closer to what Sharon Salzberg calls Real Happiness."
    Is the Purpose of Life to be Happy?


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    Re: Revenge of the Introvert

    Creative Introverts | The Creative Mind

    ...Susan Cain notes that “introverts” are found in the animal kingdom, “where 15 percent to 20 percent of many species are watchful, slow-to-warm-up types who stick to the sidelines (sometimes called ‘sitters’) while the other 80 percent are ‘rovers’ who sally forth without paying much attention to their surroundings.” She adds that “Sitters and rovers favor different survival strategies, which could be summed up as the sitter’s ‘Look before you leap’ versus the rover’s inclination to ‘Just do it!’ Each strategy reaps different rewards.”

    As an introvert, I am a bit put off by the nickname “sitter” – I may in fact sit many hours a day, but it is active work at my computer. Is that “sticking to the sidelines”? In a sense it is, since I work alone.

    But those nicknames and descriptions come from our predominantly extroverted culture – “Just do it” is not only a commercial slogan but a widely valued style of action, and “sitter” seems to be a disparaging characterization of people who are more cautious, introverted and autonomous than the majority.

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