Daring Greatly Review + Giveaway

What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What will people think of me? We’ve all probed these and similar questions. Each of us, at one time or another, has doubted our abilities. No one is perfect and bulletproof is a myth, yet everyone occasionally trips over these instances of fear and insecurity.

In her many years of researching connection, psychologist and storyteller, Brené Brown has spent much time exploring the topics of vulnerability and shame, as well as examining how these emotions affect our relationships. In her latest book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brown shares her research findings, fearlessly exposes her personal story, offers a guided journey towards understanding the driving forces behind out behaviors and–most importantly–encourages each of us to reclaim our lives and fearlessly reopen our hearts.

“Connection is why we’re here. We’re hardwired to connect with others and it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Though we’re inherently driven towards connection, over time society has driven a wedge between our natural inclinations and societal exceptions. The structure of our cultures, families, and organizations choke that desire for openness and vulnerability in well-intentioned, yet devastating attempts to preserve order. We construct complex means of navigating through life while keeping everyone at a safe distance and forever fixating our eyes on the exit sign. We want to experience others’ vulnerability while keeping our own secrets and insecurities close to the chest. I can completely relate to Brown when she states, “along with my fear of vulnerability, I also inherited a huge heart and ready empathy.” That dichotomous combination makes day-to-day life excruciatingly difficult, at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Vulnerability is at the core of our most difficult emotions–fear, disappointment, and grief–but it is also the wellspring of love, belonging, joy, empathy, and creativity. It involves both an openness to positive experiences and an acceptance of the potentially heart-breaking risks. Likened to a tightrope, vulnerability is that trembling midpoint where moving forward and turning back are equally terrifying, and standing still is an entirely unstable option. With that knowledge, why would we ever do anything other than move forward?

As the title suggest, Daring Greatly is broken down into multiple sections. The implications of Brown’s research and observations are applied to all areas of life, from self-growth and relationships to parenting and leadership. The insights offered in the book are thought-provoking and invaluable.

What drives our fear of being vulnerable? Are we building walls around ourselves as a defense against vulnerability? What is the price we pay by shutting down and disengaging? How can we learn to embrace our vulnerability and begin to transform the ways in which we live, love, parent, and lead?

We live in a culture of scarcity. Nothing ever seems to be “enough” and we’re continually striving for more money, more power, and more material possessions  Maybe, beneath all those superficial “wants,” what we truly long for is love and acceptance. Remove that maybe, because research has shown that it is connection, not possessions that bring us true and lasting joy.

We live in a culture of shame. We compare our lives, our relationships, our children, and our teams to those around us and then question our own technique, our own worthiness. We’ve forgotten how to trust our intuition and we’ve lost sight of our unique strengths and perspectives. To complicate things further, men and women experience shame differently–women struggle with physical beauty and motherhood, whereas men worry about being perceived as weak. We all cause ourselves unnecessary pain when we shut down or lash out due to fear, pain, and that all-too-familiar insidious sense of inadequacy. An important lesson highlighted in the book is to pay attention to how we act while in this state of shame and fear. The worst crime we can against a loved one is to shame them–even after an apology, the damage is irreparable because we’ve shown them our willingness to use confidential information as a weapon.

The concept of perfection is seductive. Yet, perfection does not exist in the world, as we know it. Instead, vulnerability lies at the core of human experience. It’s through vulnerability that we learn about and experience courage, compassion, and human connection. Vulnerability is also a prime catalyst for innovation and change.

In interviewing numerous individuals over the years, Brown realized that vulnerability is never an effortless pursuit, but rather it is often a daily struggle to become comfortable with one’s power and gifts. Each day is a new opportunity to remind ourselves that we are worthy, that we are enough. We don’t have to be “perfect,” but we should strive towards engagement in all that we do, and we should commit ourselves to finding some alignment between our personal values and our actions. 

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to  wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to be at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Having majored in psychology, I’ve developed a post-collegiate fondness for psychology and personal-development books. Under that broad umbrella of admiration sit many prominent researchers. Brené Brown is the one standing tall, smiling, and shamelessly singing along to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. After viewing her TEDx talk on vulnerability, reading The Gifts of Imperfection, and singing along with her at World Domination Summit 2012, I  did not hesitate to pre-order Daring Greatly as soon as it was announced. The book far exceeded all expectations.

Does the book sound like you something you may be interested in? As luck would have it, I was offered by the publisher an additional copy to give away. You read that correctly–you could win a free copy of this wonderful book!

Daring Greatly Giveaway

What can I win? Enter to win a free copy of Brené Brown new release, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I have one book to offer, so there will thus be one winner.

When does the contest run? The contest will run now through Saturday, October 13th at midnight (MST). 

How can I enter? In the comments below, answer the following question: What’s worth doing even if I fail? (You’re welcome to share other thoughts, as well.)

Can I earn additional entries? Yes, you can! Like analyfe’s Facebook page, post a tweet  about the giveaway @analyfe and then leave a comment saying you’ve done so.

Are there any restrictions? The contest is limited to residents of the continental US.

How will the winner be chosen? The winner will be chosen at random, and each entry will be counted separately.

What if I don’t win? Daring Greatly is a wonderful book, so consider investing in your and buying or borrowing a copy.

*I’m still in the process of transferring the blog from analyfe.wordpress.com to analyfe.com, so to avoid confusion I’ll be accepting entries on both sites, though I’d prefer the former (turquoise header)*

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The Cultivation of Creativity

Human ingenuity is endless. We harbor an intrinsic need to create and to affect our world, to build a legacy, to be remembered. Popular wisdom tells us to think BIG, dream BIG, and to follow through regardless of obstacles that lie in our path. Nearly everyone would believe that passion will move you in the direction of your authentic self, and that honesty in creativity will lead to success. But how much of that is true? Are there, perhaps, other factors that aren’t being taken into consideration?

Creativity is the purposeful generation and implementation of a novel idea, or as Justin Vernon so poetically defines it, “Creativity is about unfurling into yourself – an act of becoming.”

This is not a plug and cord; it’s a neck scratcher.

Creativity stems from curiosity. Rather than thinking BIG, as we’re so often advised, research shows that originality is awakened when one is able to break ideas and material items into smaller, undefined parts. A candle is not a “candle,” but rather a cylindrical glass container filled with scented wax and a short piece of string. Novelty is finding “new” in the mundane.

It’s far easier to innovate and repurpose when you don’t limit yourself with old conventions and common beliefs. Learn to pay attention to the visual properties of objects, such as their shape as size, and ignore their function. Be open-minded, release constraints, and allow your mind to wander without regard to the rules.

Prosaic thought, cognitive control, and focused attention are associated with bursts of beta wave activity in the prefrontal cortex, which guides decisions, thoughts, and actions. The quieting of this region is referred to as hypofrontality, and involves a more relaxed mental states, diffused attention, and lower frequency alpha waves. This state of lower cognitive control is highly associated with idea generation.

Recent data shows that incorporating periods of reduced cognitive control into your life can increase everyday creativity. Rethink ordinary objects. When you think contemplate the typical use of a tissues (wiping your nose), you utilize your prefrontal brain region. However, when asked to come up with an uncommon use (protective stuffing for a package), activity in the posterior brain regions, responsible for visuospatial skills are heightened. The practice of regularly devising novel applications for common objects helps reduce the filtering of knowledge and experience, which then enables people to consider a wider variety of possible solutions.

Another way to boost creative thinking and add an element of abstraction to a thought is to think of it as far off. Solving problems to be sent somewhere physically far away, imagining yourself solving a problem in the future, and working in solitude all contribute to increased problem-solving skills via obscure means.

True creativity extends beyond mere idea generation, because a new concept is useless if nothing is done to bring it to fruition. It’s important to evaluate your options, choose the best one, and then implement a plan for realizing your vision. In this stage, the cognitive filter needs to be switched back on to objectively discern the best choice. The ability to aptly combine the generation of novel ideas with the implementation of these ideas is known as cognitive flexibility.

Now that you understand the backbone of the creative mind, what can you do to inject more creative energy into your everyday life? Pay attention to visual properties and components, rather than practical and common usage. Think up new ways to perform everyday tasks, such as preparing a sandwich or driving to work. Take breaks to shut off your thinking mind and sink into a relaxed mental state while strolling through the park or playing with your pen. Mediate your fears of risk. Stop forcing ideas and allow them to emerge organically, and when a dozen brilliant ideas pop their heads up at the same time, know how to choose your winner and follow through.

How to Be an Entrepreneur of Identity

Charisma, at its essence, entails powerful personability, an undeniably magnetic personality paired with a genuine and enthusiastic interest in people, and a compelling charm that can inspire devotion in others. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is often viewed as the epitome of the word. What did he have that other less popular presidents and public figures lacked?

“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”

President Roosevelt artfully transformed his disadvantages into advantages. Despite suffering from incurable paralysis from the waist down, Roosevelt was able to convince the public that he was recovering, and that he was a capable leader. In regards to both his health and the well-being of the country, FDR was able to skillfully shift the focus from the negative qualities of a condition to the more positive aspects. He illuminated the strengths of a situation and put forth the effort to repair the broken pieces. Roosevelt appear both “of the people” and “for the people” – he was equally a leader with the capacity to promote change and an average American citizen. In conjunction with placing himself on the same level as every other American, the President was able to integrate the country’s history, hopes, and values into a coherent and highly relatable story.

A charismatic leader is an entrepreneur of identity. The most well-respected, memorable, and charming luminary is he who clarifies what his followers believe, rather than preaching what he personally believes. Charisma is strongly correlated with building a strong personal connection with one’s audience, and depends on the capacity of a leader to be seen by followers as advancing group interests, and that power will slip if the leader is discovered to be acting in their own best interest. Contrary to traditional thought, charisma is not the attribute of a leader, but rather an attribution created by followers and developed through evolving group dynamics. Just think of how the best political leaders, teachers, and comedians are able to improvise and play off their audiences.

Several Psychology studies have shown that U.S. presidents who use more image-based words in their speeches are perceived to be both more charismatic and greater leaders. In addition, many leaders famed for their charisma have a keen interest in poetry and the craft of language. It’s no coincidence that these great leaders know how to convey, connect, and persuade. The most highly charismatic leaders are able to cultivate narratives in which their personal sense of self comes to be seen by followers as emblematic of their shared group identity.

So, what can you do implement this new knowledge into your own life? There are generally assumed to be three hubs around which effective leadership revolves:

  • Reflection: Learn about the culture and history of a group. Read and understand popular political, religious, historical, and literary works within the community. Listen before you speak and learn all you can from people. Remain humble and realize that countless others helped you reach your current level of success. Be empathetic.
  • Representation: Present yourself as both a member of and proponent of your group. Intertwine your narrative with that of the group, building a coherent, consistent, and highly relatable story. Consider your appearance, tone of voice, and word selection. Lead the audience to draw the conclusion you want, rather than spelling out the ideas for them. Appear authentic and artless.
  • Realization: Turn the things your group values in principle into reality. Relentlessly pursue the group’s top priorities and inspire others to mobilize. Negotiate difficult situations. Don’t wait to take action. Care about those whom you represent and make sure that every individual within your group feels as if they matter.

A Genetic Propensity Towards Religion

I recently subscribed to Scientific American MIND, simply because I miss having free access to scholarly articles through the university, and this seemed the best way to keep up with new research in my favorite field without breaking the bank.

In a recent edition, there is a fascinating article on the biological basis of religion. I’m particularly intrigued because I can easily use myself a case study within the context of the article. What factors influence one’s religious and spiritual leanings? Let’s explore!

I was brought up Catholic. I attended Catholic school for 15 years and went to weekly mass with my family throughout my entire life. It was what was expected, yet I always struggled with religion. I could never grasp the abstract concept of God, mass was tortuously boring, and I never felt that mystic connection to community. I didn’t like the unyielding doctrines, nor people’s blind faith. Though I was the most honest, obedient, and outwardly religious child there, I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me because I didn’t feel connected to my religion or God. Though immersed in an environment in which religion was essential, it never felt right to me.

People tend to follow the religion of their parents until around the age of 18, and then pursue whatever feels right for them. 

When I left for college and church became an option, the situation worsened. I attended church out of guilt for a few weeks before giving up. Though I knew my parents would be disappointed, organized religion was not for me. I found it to be draining, rather than renewing. I continued to pray on my own, took up mediation, practiced gratitude, read up on others’ spiritual and scientific views on life, developed my own opinions, and discussed spirituality in its intellectual sense whenever possible. Though I’m still open-minded and malleable when it comes to the subject, I would consider myself to be a secular humanist. I essentially believe that belief systems are personal and subjective, based on critical analysis and philosophical reflection, with the ultimate goal of individual and human progress through the development of tolerance and compassion. Rather than droning, “Catholic,” in response to the question of religion, I could spend hours thoroughly delineating my views.

The more distance one gets from their early influences, the more idiosyncratic factors hold  sway over their beliefs. 

Across different belief systems, the underlying theme is generally that being a good person is the key to a fulfilling life and access to the afterlife. I’ve always felt that the core of all religious beliefs is to treat others with kindness and fairness; I’m confident that I will continue to feel that indefinitely, regardless of my future religious or spiritual affiliations.

Many people change their religious affiliation during the course of their lifetime, though one’s overall attitude towards belief is generally stable throughout adulthood.

Throughout my childhood, Catholic beliefs and practices permeated my life in every context, from home, to school and community. As I grew up and was allowed the freedom to chose my environment and shape my influences, I wandered away from the religious beliefs I was brought up in, and towards more appealing intellectual communities, philosophy, and more modern views of spirituality.

Although environmental influences play a large role in determining a person’s religious beliefs during adolescence, genetic factors emerge as more important in adulthood.

I would rate myself highly on both agreeableness and conscientious, and I would also rate myself as moderate to highly open-minded.

Specific clusters of personality traits correlate highly with particular kinds of religious belief. Those who would classify themselves as both agreeable and conscientious tend to be drawn to religion; however, those who are open-minded tend to gravitate towards modern forms of faith, whereas those who are who are less open-minded opt for fundamentalist groups.

So does personality lead to religiosity, or is the opposite true?

Rather than religion shaping people to be more agreeable and conscientious, these personality traits actually lead to religiosity 

I know many people who have no religious affiliation. Some believe in connectedness, a non-Christian God, the universe, divine intelligence, the merits of science, or some brilliantly obscure combination of the above. I have friends who associate themselves more closely with a particular group – be it a fraternity, entrepreneurial meetup, a girls night book club, Comic Con, or a yoga class – than any religious organization. Their favorite groups seem to serve as a pivotal piece of their identity, just as many feel that their faith is a key element of who they are.

Belongingness can be almost as compelling as food; like-minded people offer the same benefits as organized religions

Religion is a such a prominent, controversial, and continually misunderstood topics. I always find it interesting to see topics generally depicted as non-scientific (such as religious beliefs) placed with the context of scientific inquiry and facts. I think that’s why I’m so intrigued by Psychology.

How do you feel about the relationship between personality and religious beliefs? Do these findings seem plausible? Though only a few personality traits were mentioned in the study, do you think others have have any strong connection? (Having performed my own personality research, failure to mention generally means no correlation was found, but for the sake of discussion, I’m curious what you think.)

On Personal Dreams and Roadblocks

My biggest dream is to be accepted to a prestigious graduate program in social, personality, positive, or educational psychology, to be successful as a doctoral student and to perform research that I’m passionate about, to discover my calling and do everything in my power to share and implement my insights and, in doing so, improve the lives of others. I want to find happiness and fulfillment through my work.

However, a huge obstacle lies right in the middle of my path. I’m continually overwhelmed by this paralyzing fear, a deep-seated insecurity about my ability to function successfully in the world. I hold the belief that from the safety of my own mind, I’ll be able to come to understand the functioning of everything that surrounds me, and eventually rejoin the real world with confidence in my understanding. Instead of propelling me forward, this skewed mindset causes me to shrink further and further from the people and opportunities that will actually help me get to where I’m headed. Rather than asking for help from the people who I know care, I tend to delve deeper into the dark corners of my own mind, searching for nonexistent answers.

Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun.

-Clifford Geertz

I spend inordinate amounts of time collecting and developing ideas and skills that I believe might make me feel more confident and self-assured. I proudly carry around knowledge in my head, but become so engrossed in my own thoughts that I regularly neglect social relationships, and all the things that I should care about. I don’t tend to my real needs, and when problems arise, I run away and hide from them, hoping that maybe they’ll disappear or be forgotten. In my mind, I’ve created a false reality in which it feel simpler and safer to sacrifice the way things were for a scenario in which I start from scratch in an area in which I could potentially feel more competent, than face and work through my own flaws and shortcomings. In writing, it sounds foolish and ridiculous, but our mental schemas can be so powerfully convincing, despite their blatant inaccuracy.

Although, I personally pride myself in being a kind and moral person, those traits aren’t appreciated by society at large, and are often seen as supplemental fluff. Thus, I’ve built my identity around being intelligent, having ideas, and sharing my synthesis of knowledge, preferably through writing. However, the irony of the situation is that no matter what level of mastery I achieve in any given field or how successful I perceive myself to be, my fear of inadequacy never seems to go away. I can keep reading, thinking, and sharing ideas, but it will never be enough.

I may be cerebral, perceptive, innovative, insightful, curious, alert, and countless other positive things; however, at the other end of the spectrum, I’m often intense, detached, secretive, isolated, high-strung, preoccupied, reclusive, and unstable. Perhaps one day I’ll overturn conventional ways of thinking and put forth some innovative idea, but I feel that at this rate and on my current path, I’m more likely to become eccentric and socially isolated.

I feel more at home in my mind than in social situations; I feel safer viewing the world from a detached vantage point than taking part in the action. I believe it extends beyond mere introversion because I knowingly shut out opportunities for growth and learning. My thoughts are so overwhelming that the world within my head becomes intensely and conspicuously engrossing, to the point that little of outside world seems significant or satisfying. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m profoundly out of touch with reality, that my thinking is grossly convoluted,  and that my reactions and coping mechanisms are unhealthy.

When I become anxious and fearful, I’m reduced to an overwhelmed and severely immobilized being with little power to do anything. The comfortable environment I’ve created for myself suddenly transforms into an unpredictable and threatening beast; I cut back on social interactions in order to allay my fears, but that ultimately only feeds them. I’m sensitive to the world around me, acutely aware of my fragility and defenseless. In order to compensate for my environmental sensitivity, I put up a facade of apathy and intellectual arrogance, consciously, though unintentionally, creating distance between myself and others. I’m painfully uncomfortable with my social skills; though I feel as if when I do manage to make it past the initial hurdles, I more than capable of being a loyal and loving friend, the fear of failure often prevents me from putting forth even the smallest amount of effort.

I’ve recognized these traits in myself for years and have watched myself cycle in and out of the habit, growing more and more frustrated with my inability to overcome the tendency. As of late, a few brave souls have had the courage to call me out on my behavior. In paying attention to my reactions, I’ve noticed how I behave when I become overwhelmed. I shut off my social networks and my phone, and I pour all my time and energy into a singular, seemingly important and worthwhile project (which is currently graduate program research and applications). It’s a completely unhealthy and counterproductive way of coping, especially when there’s not even an obvious reason as to why I’m so anxious.

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive.. the risk to be alive and express what we really are.

-Don Miguel Ruiz

Having developed my identity around knowledge and discovery, graduate school seems like the logical answer to overcoming my insecurities, sense of failure over having not secured a decent job a year after graduation, and my general lack of self-esteem lately; however, although I intend to continue the application process, that is not the solution. I think the key is to find a balance between acquiring knowledge and taking action, to let go of my pride and be willing to ask for help when I need it, to accept things as they are rather than worrying about and over-analyzing all those things which I can’t control. I need to start reminding myself that the best experiences come to those who aren’t afraid to get their feet wet, because I will never achieve a single one of my dreams if I’m too fearful to take the first step towards arriving there.

Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Social Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life

Between my background in psychology and my personal experience with shyness, I have a keen interest in the common, yet socially shunned personality trait. In her book, Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Social Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life, Barbara Markway examines and dissects the issue of social anxiety, defined as the experience of apprehension or worry that arises from the possibility, either real or imagined, that one will be evaluated or judged in some manner by others.

The book answers common questions regarding the meaning and causes of social anxiety, and contains self-assessment tests and activities, as well as several helpful methods for overcoming social anxiety. In addition, there is a section on how to recognize and help your child overcome social anxiety. Finally, it concludes with an appendix of helpful terms and resources.

I found this book to be a fascinating look into a personality trait that is often seen as undesirable, and a hindrance to success. Combining scientific research and her own clinical experience, Markway offers an informed and understanding perspective on social anxiety and those who suffer from its overwhelming symptoms.

Some examples of practical exercises to overcome instances of social anxiety include paying attention to what the other person is saying, rather than focusing on how you look; and relaxing your mind and reminding yourself that you don’t have to be perfect, instead of worrying about what others are thinking about you. The section on methods for managing social anxiety is full of countless similar suggestions and tips.

As anyone who has dealt with shyness or social anxiety knows, it can be a real struggle. Throughout life, each of us is driven to consider the four existential concerns – death, freedom, isolation, and meaning. Although grappling with these complex issues does not guarantee answers, the questioning process in and of itself can help one transcend their small, everyday struggles, adding more fulfillment and joy into their life. By focusing on the big picture rather than each individual interaction, one can lessen the effects of social anxiety.

Whether you’re studying psychology, interested in the topic of personality, or suffer from painful levels of shyness and social anxiety or know someone who does, this book is a wonderful resource, presented in a helpful and easy to follow format.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for…” 

I can’t begin to tell you how many times friends have playfully jested, insinuating that the silently observant individuals, like myself, innocently skirting the periphery are the ones secretly plotting some mischievous crime.

In her debut release, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain takes a different stand. Yes, you should be watching the quiet ones, but not because they’re creating a scene or causing trouble. Rather, Cain proposes that introverts – the conscientious, deep-thinking, thoughtful, individualistic, empathetic, shy, and often socially awkward individuals of society – hold a unique power in today’s world.

What they lack in charisma and quick-wit, they make up for in problem-solving abilities, determination, and their ability to focus. The time that an extrovert spends socializing is time that the introvert spends reading, delving passionately into their favorite hobby, having a deep conversation with another, and reflecting on life. The high school loner, when transplanted into a hospitable environment as an adult, has the ability to thrive and excel. Those who are happy living in their heads are the inventors, the artists, and the engineers, those innovators who are then able to release and project their internal paradise into their external world.

“The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement.” 

If these ungainly closet-geniuses have so much to offer the world, then why are they so often overlooked, and even shunned? Extroverts make up between one-half and two-thirds of the population, and we live in a society that has been built around, and increasingly caters to, and promotes that “extrovert ideal.” Assignments within both work and school environments often obit around collective collaboration, situations in which the intelligent but slow-to-speak introvert can’t get a word in edgewise. Employees may be accused of being uncooperative; spouses may be guilt-tripped for not responding properly to criticism; and students may be written up for not participating, in the traditional sense of the word. Is it possible that introversion and its associated traits are not necessarily negative and restrictive? Is it possible that these individuals are not, in fact, antisocial, but rather have a different perception of the world, and thus different means of interacting with others?

Cain explores the story of Rosa Park and her quiet strength during the Civil Rights Movement, as opposed to the charismatic and rallying power of Martin Luther King Jr. Both were important figures, in their own right. Placing the framework of this contrast into modern contexts, we imagine “connectors” – people who have a “special gift for bringing the world together” and “an instinctive and natural gift for making social connections” – to be charming and bubbly; yet, with the emergence of online communities and social media, introverted “connectors” have discovered a safe and comfortable environment in which they can interact with foreign friends, exchange ideas, empathize and offer advice, and ultimately serve to model a new form of leadership. As stated so aptly by Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable, “perhaps social media affords us the control we lack in real life socializing: the screen as a barrier between us and the world.”

In a fast-talking, risk-taking society, why would evolution preserve a gene that discourages thoughtlessly jumping in and doing what needs to be done? Extroverts and introverts lie on polar opposites of the same spectrum – where one acts, the other thinks. Although it’s necessary to have members of a society who can fearlessly venture into the world and “hunt for dinner,” a community also depends on those who can notice a predator in the distance, or recall that a certain berry is poisonous. Ultimately, both personalities are important in the perpetuation of the human species.

So, as an introvert, what can you do to fit more comfortably into the world around you? What can you do to improve your relationships and help those around you understand that introversion is not a pathology? The underlying theme of Quiet is that introversion is not only okay, but a gift that, if properly harnessed and nurtured, can take you to places you never dreamt possible. The key is to find balance between your natural tendency towards introspection, and the social necessity to interact with others and act on ideas. Although horrified of small talk, most introverts revel in deep discussion – find other deep thinkers to exchange thoughts with. If you’re socially awkward, connect with like-minded people in online communities. Force yourself out of your comfort zone, but allow yourself to take baby steps to arrive there. When you feel over-stimulated, create “restorative niches,” in which you can unwind and find your center. Identify your core personal project – figure out what you loved as a child, the type of work you gravitate towards, and the lifestyles and people you envy – and pursue those passions relentlessly.

The book is built on meticulously researched data in the fields of personality, evolutionary, and neuropsychology, with additional support from case studies and one-on-one conversations. The author examines every facet of the life of an introvert, from school and work to interpersonal relationships. The book encapsulates every angle of the personality trait, as only a thoughtful and detail-oriented introvert could, taking into account and preemptively responding to any questions or challenges that may arise. I would highly recommend the book to anyone who considers themselves introvert or is the parent, spouse, or teacher of an introvert, as well as anyone with an interest in social or personality psychology. The book is informative, engaging, and highly relatable.

Now, savor your solitude, and go change the world.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.