Reflection and solitude are their strength. Parties and uncomfortable small talk are their kryptonite.
Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about The Simpsons and their crazy accomplishments. Like their correct predictions of future events, conspiracy theories, and their creation of a recent addition to the dictionary: the verb “embiggen.” But I’d like to tell you a little about two of the show's main characters: Lisa and Bart Simpson. Their personalities are completely different: Bart is loud, outgoing, takes lots of risks, and lives for chaos and action. His sister Lisa, on the other hand, likes to write, be indoors, and is kind of reserved. She, like many people out there, is an introvert.
Extrovert folks, like Bart, do well in social interactions. They are outspoken, sociable, and prefer situations where there is a lot for them to do. Introverts prefer silence, reflection, and time for themselves. They like spending time inside their own mind, and loud or stressful environments drain their energy. There’s nothing wrong with being Lisa or Bart. As you can see in the show, they have their own distinctive characteristics that make them special. Lisa, for instance, is incredibly smart and at 8 years old she is already a talented musician and budding writer. What she lacks in social interactions, she compensates for in intellect, discipline, and analytical skills, to name a few. In a way, you could say her introverted personality is a superpower. Like her, maybe you or somebody that you know needs to be reminded about his or her unique abilities. Here are some of them:
A study from the National Center for Biological Information (NCBI) found that introverts’ cerebral blood flow concentrates on the frontal lobes of their brains. This means that there are “significant improvements in the neutral and incongruent tasks,” which are associated with retention and memory.
Another personality study found that introverts have ¨neuronal activity in brain regions... associated with learning, motor skills and vigilance control.” In other words, they are more aware of their surroundings and tend to see details that others don't usually notice.
Related to the previous studies mentioned, being an introvert allows people to focus more on tasks that demand attention, whereas, extroverts have issues with concentration. This includes reading, watching TV, performing well on tests, etc. The author of Introvert Advantage, Dr. Marti Olden Laney, calls these abilities “strong powers of concentration.”
Ability to recharge
Extroverts get their energy from situations where the environment stimulates them. For example, at concerts, the loud music and jumping crowds will give them the energy to keep going. Introverts, on the contrary, feel drained and overstimulated by this type of activity. The reason is that “introverts get energy through reflection and solitude,” wrote Dr. Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power.
Well, not exactly. Introverts can’t read people's minds – yet. However, their brain's ability to process and retain information allows them to be great listeners. This means that, if you ever need some good relationship advice, you should talk to your introvert friends.
Many artists and technological geniuses in history books have been found to be introverts. At least, that’s what Susan Cain wrote in an article about introverts. She says that they “are responsible for some of humanity’s greatest achievements.”
Whenever there is a puzzle to be solved, a map to be read, or an encrypted message no one understands, the problem-solving superpowers of an introvert are ideal in these situations. Introverts are great at collecting data and playing out different scenarios in their brains. As mechanical engineer Dave Gennrich describes: “introverts’ brain pathways favor the thinking mode, where several solutions to individual problems are played out in their minds simultaneously.”
In the 22nd episode of season 10 of The Simpsons, Lisa is disgusted by Springfield's stupidity, and she writes an op-ed criticizing everyone. Her letter is published in the paper, but no one in town seems to care. It is only after she receives an invitation from MENSA, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world, that she realizes she is different and that some people out there do see her true potential. Just like Lisa, introverts usually feel isolated and believe that they don’t fit in in our extroverted world, but they do. We need introverts in our lives to listen, create, innovate, use their superpowers to help save extroverts.
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