Happiness As an Introvert

Earlier this year, a report touted that extroverts are happier than introverts.

Really? As an introvert, I protest!

In June, The Journal of Research in Personality published an article, “Why Extroverts are Happier: A Day Reconstruction Study” written by Wido G.M. Oerlemans and Arnold B. Bakker. The article was based on research asking introverts and extroverts how they remembered feeling during different activities. Overall, extroversion equals more happiness, the researchers said.

This backs up another study published in 2012 by The Journal of Personality which reported that introverts are happier when they act more like extroverts.

I disagree! How can forcing ourselves to be the social butterflies we are not make us happy?

Introverts define happiness differently than extroverts.

Introverts define happiness differently than extroverts.

Susan Cain, author of the New York Times bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, makes a good point. She says the latest report might be less about who’s happier and more about how we define happiness.

She is quoted in an interesting article by Gwen Moranas saying, ““I hear from thousands and thousands of introverts. When they talk about the things that they most love to do, it’s very often activities like reading, hiking, cycling, being with their spouses, being with their children. It’s a quieter type of contentment that often fuels introverts and that we don’t pay proper attention to,” she says.

Extroverts get energy from other people and recharge by being social. So it makes sense that extroverts define happiness as feeling energized and excited. For example, going to parties or meeting new people makes those with extroverted tendencies feel happy.

On the other hand, introverts like myself, tend to recharge by spending time alone. Constantly being with people, especially large crowds, saps our energy. We introverts find happiness in a different way. We define happiness as serenity, peacefulness, satisfaction, and contentment.

Nothing wrong with that.

Of course, I think that introverts have to fight the tendency to totally isolate ourselves. No one is happy living the life of a hermit.

On the other hand, we do have to pay attention to our need for time alone, our need to recharge our batteries after a social event, and our need to indulge in quiet activities like reading a book.

So if you have a tendency to be an introvert, can you be happy? Heck, yeah!

You can also be successful as I pointed out in my guest post for Wise Introvert. Check out the article for tips.

If you’re an introvert like me, feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on what brings you happiness in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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13 Responses

  1. I am a Happy Introvert! Heck Yeah! I am also very social at times when need be. When I was younger, my first socialization started with adults in their 70’s and 80’s (my grandparents who raised me). I didn’t know how to handle socializing with groups or a larger circle of people. When I became a teenager, I had difficulty at sleep away camps because I was a wall flower. I use to think that something was wrong with me. It was a never ending battle. I would shy away from going anywhere where I knew there would be crowds of people. I would actually feel as though I couldn’t breathe.

    I couldn’t understand what my fear was. Somewhere in my latter teens, I made myself face that fear. I came to see that for the most part I was a melancholy introvert, but I was also out going to a certain extent. I gave myself a few options to engage in both sides of me! As I did that, I was able to handle crowds more and I came to realize that my fear was that in a crowd, no one would notice me or gravitate towards me and that I couldn’t compete with the girls or women who were more knowledgable, fashionable or prettier. Then one day, I saw one of those ladies who I just described, display an insecurity. That’s when my fear dissipated and eventually I saw people for who they were. They were no different than I was.

    I love who I’ve become!!!! Heck Yeah!!!!

    • juliegorges says:

      That’s the advantage of growing older – we learn such valuable lessons such as the one you mentioned in your comment. And we learn to love and accept ourselves – which is so awesome! Thanks for sharing your insightful experience.

  2. Felix Gorges says:

    As an introvert myself, I fully agree with you Julie. We are confident in who we are and don’t need to feed off the attention of other people.

    • juliegorges says:

      Hi Felix – with the same last name as me but unrelated as far as we know! And now we have something else in common. We are both introverts as well! Glad you stopped by and shared your thoughts. It is such a blessing to gain confidence in ourselves, isn’t it?

      • Felix Gorges says:

        Hi Julie, thanks so much for getting back to me. I know you and I can’t be related, but you look a lot like one of my sisters. As far as the name Gorges goes, it originated in French Normandy in the 9th century as a derivative of George. That makes us vikings. Have a good day Julie.

  3. Michael Gray says:

    Years ago I made a conscious effort to be more social and to be more engaged with others. I felt I had failed to act on my deams. The connection between my inner life (vision & Intention) and embodiment in a world was blocked; I was stuck in daydreams that nevergot implemented. I had five stories published in the Anitgonish Review but then didn’t write for 20 years. My thought was that I needed to be working on the way I related to the reality around me–not working on surrogate, fictional realities for me to live in.

    These personal issues were broader than where I sit on an introvert/extrovert spectrum, but I feel that my consicious decision to connect my inner life with my outer life has made me both happier and more engaged with other people. — Michael

  4. Marla says:

    Thanks for another great post Julie, and as you can guess, my introvert nose was out of joint when I read the ‘extroverts are happier’ declarations. I think the headlines can help to fuel the misconceptions that introversion equates to depression, anxiety, anti-social behaviours and other negative stereotypes. That’s what bothers me most because I know that there are a lot of introverts who struggle to feel good enough or to feel that they belong in our ‘still very much extrovert-oriented’ culture.

    I think it comes down to what our society expects and recognizes as the expression of happiness. For introverts, happy doesn’t necessarily mean bouncing off the walls with boundless energy and perkiness. We might be more reserved in rating our level of happiness on a self-rated scale. People may not look at us and automatically think, “That’s a happy person”. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel happy.

    Introverts definitely have the capacity to be happy – we might just have a different way of experiencing & sharing it. In my own life & work, embracing the truth of what introversion looks like for me has been more helpful than trying to be something that I’m not. A bit of self-compassion is required.

    Here’s what I say – Forget the studies & expectations. Be yourself & live happy your own way…whatever that looks and feels like for you!

  5. It always amazed me the money that goes into studies and for what purpose? People are who they are and will find happiness their own way. You can’t make an introvert an extrovert and vise versa.
    I never really thought of the right label to describe my personality. I love being alone and sometimes have to push myself to get out. I love parties where I know people but not when I don’t. There are times I love being around extroverts. It can be energizing. But it also can be exhausting! Maybe it’s age – I probably worried more what others thought when younger. All I know now is that I certainly am happy and very content with my life. I don’t need a study or label to know that.

    • Michael Gray says:

      Diane, your description of enjoying parties when you know the people there reminded me of a man I used to know who would tell a stream of jokes at parties, often having an appreciative audience around him. I marvelled at how he could seque from one to the next, drawing them from some recorded data base of stories for all occassions.

      But his story-telling seemed to be a replacement for those quiet moments where two people share things with someone else interested in them as a human being.

      I wonder if the extreme poles of introversion/extroversion tend to exclude one other: showmanship eclipsing conversation as relationship; extreme introversion robbing us of the chance to expand our circle of engagement?

      Somewhere in between seems a nice place to be, although we can’t invent who we are or what nourishes us . . .

  6. Christina says:

    Hi Julie! I really loved this article and can relate to it as well. I’m an introvert, and I’ve been reading more and more about the topic lately and being more gentle with myself. I used to put a lot more pressure on myself to behave in extroverted ways. I often wondered if those studies show that acting extroverted make people happier, because they are fulfilling society’s expectations at the moment. Or maybe introverts get a rush out of doing something different when they’re forced to act like extroverts? I don’t know. But you do make a good point that I hadn’t thought of before–that maybe we simply define happiness differently. Something to think about! 🙂


  7. I refuse to place myself in any box or to decide whether I am happier than someone else based on what we enjoy. Everyone experiences happiness in their own unique way and anything that tells you how or what you “should” be to create happiness is deceiving – at best. I agree that time alone is necessary as is interaction with others, so balance is the key; balance as dictated by your own feelings and emotions and not what others’ definition of it.

    • juliegorges says:

      Thanks everyone for all of your great comments! This article seemed to hit a nerve with introverts. All of your thoughtful replies emphasizes the points in my article – that introverts have a lot to offer in our own quiet and reflective way.

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