As I predicted in my previous entry “Don’t Worry, Be Happy(er)”, many of my introverted friends felt a need to push back on the assertion that acting extroverted can make anyone – including introverts – feel happier. Comments such as, “The study was obviously conducted by extroverts”, or “extroverts only think they are happier because they aren’t in touch with themselves” have been hurled at me by introverted friends. We’ve also had very good discussion within the comments of this blog where I noticed in particular the observations that “Maybe extroverts value happiness more” and “Maybe extroverts are happier because society rewards extroverted behavior”.
First, I think it’s important to note – neither our poll, nor the Wake Forest study concluded that introversion = unhappiness. In fact, in general, more introverts report themselves to be happy than unhappy. So, if you are an introvert, the odds are still 2-to-1 that you consider yourself a happy person – unless you are a Rational Architect (INTP), where the happy/unhappy ratio is close to even. (Aside: having spent a large percentage of my professional life working with teams comprised largely of INTP’s, my snarky comment is, “INTP’s are happiest when they have something to be unhappy about”).
Second, the Wake Forest study didn’t conclude that introverts would be happier by becoming extroverts – which would be 180 degrees counter to Keirsey Temperament Theory (see Different Drummers), but rather that anyone could feel happier at a particular moment by doing something that they considered extroverted behavior. So, if you are an extremely shy individual, you probably won’t make yourself happy by chatting up complete strangers in line at the post office. But, perhaps singing out loud with the radio in your car will feel good.
Beyond the two dimensional look at extroversion and introversion, since this blog is about Keirsey Temperament Theory, here are another set of ideas at increasing one’s happiness level:
- Guardians are at their best when acting in a logistical role. They derive their self image though dependability, beneficence, and respectability. They are likely to increase their happiness by organizing something – from straightening up the basement, to planning a social function.
- Idealists are at their best in diplomatic roles. They derive their self image through empathy, benevolence, and authenticity. They are likely to increase their happiness by providing aid – from listening to a friend’s troubles to joining a worthy cause.
- Artisans are at their best in tactical roles. They derive their self image through artistic expression, audacity, and adaptability. They are likely to increase their happiness by acting spontaneously – from heading to the beach for the day to using their favorite tools to create a masterpiece.
- Rationals are at their best in strategic roles. They derive their self image through ingenuity, autonomy, and being resolute. They are likely to increase their happiness by improving their competence at a system they are interested in – from reading a book that stretches their knowledge to building a new model of complexity theory.