Really? This is what happy looks like for you?
Yes, I feel good in an introverted way
While declining to attend a large social function, I always experience a twinge of guilt. Thanks to the introvert revolution, I know that I should not feel this way. But this inbred guilt comes from growing up in a culture that prizes being social and outgoing.
On the night of the event, however, I have no regrets. I do not miss dressing up, holding a cocktail, mingling, and engaging in small talk. Sitting on my couch wearing loungewear, I am snuggled under a blanket watching a movie with my son. I feel calm, contented and engaged. This is what happy looks like for me at this moment.
As a socially accessible introvert, I can pass in extrovert culture. But I know that this type of activity often does not make me happy. In an ironic twist, I used to be an event organizer planning the exact kind of events I delight in not attending.
An introverts version of happiness looks different than extroverts. Thanks to Susan Cain’s widely viewed TED talk on the power of introverts, I can now embrace this fact. To appease my curiosity, I have devoured many books and articles on the subject ever since her talk in 2012.
These days, I write and teach women to navigate transitions by figuring out how they want to feel. Using the Desire Map method, we work together to uncover their core desired feelings. I like to think of core desired feelings like fingerprints. We all have them, but our combination is unique to us and us alone.
A myriad of positive feelings and ways to achieve them exist. When I discovered a list of introvert-style positive feelings In The Awakened Introvert by Arnie Kozak Ph.D., I had to write about it and expand the list! Many of these positive feelings complement or cause other feelings on this list.
As an introvert, I do not laugh out loud very much. Feeling bemused is much more common. When I feel wry amusement from something that surprised or perplexed me, I’ll smile slightly. Maybe I’ll chuckle quietly.
I do have attacks of laughter, but they are a rare occurrence. The fits of laughter only occur around people with whom I can let my protective guard down. Tears often stream down my face. Sometimes my body shakes with laughter, but no sounds come out of my mouth. I always delight in these laugh attacks because they don’t happen very often and are out of character for me. My most bout occurred while playing ping pong with my husband.
Another definition of bemused, which I did not know until I looked it up, is to be lost in thought or reverie. This happens to me often. I realize that someone is talking to me and I didn’t hear a word. (I apologize to anyone I’ve done that too in the past and will likely do in the future.)
Calm, serene, tranquil, peaceful
I turn to yoga and nature to feel calm, serene, and tranquil. In this state, I am free from agitation. The world is less likely to both me. My face may not betray emotion, but inside I am happy.
If I feel contented, all my desires of the current moment are appeased. I need nothing else in the moment to feel the way I want to feel. Instead of anxiety about fear of missing out dissipates, I may also feel calm or engaged.
When I am at ease, I am free from worry. I am comfortable or relieved. In this state, I feel ready to perform. Ease is not one of my core desired feelings, but it is one of my metrics of success. I regularly ask myself, how can I bring ease into the situation and try to choose the easiest instead of the hardest solution.
Engaged, engrossed, or flow
Picture a musician practicing their instrument alone for hours on end. Or an artist or writer doing the same with their craft. These solitary activities greatly interest these people and have the power to hold their attention.
Engaged was one of my core desired feelings. Until I decided that at the root of my desire was creativity, which enables me to feel engaged, engrossed or flow.
Hygge is a Danish word that can be difficult to translate into English. The word encompasses many concepts including cozy, ease, and focus on the present moment. Nothing is annoying or there to overwhelm. With hygge, you take pleasure in the simple things like a candle flickering, a warm fire, a mug of tea, or a pair of cozy socks. When I discovered this concept, I knew that it was one of my core desired feelings.
Calling all introverts, extrovert or ambiverts
If you are an introvert, do these feelings resonate with you like they did with me? If you have completed the Desire Map process, are any of these feelings on your Core Desired Feelings list? If you are an extrovert, does this list surprise you? Or does it help you to better understand the introverts in your life?