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Understanding introverts

Here’s an excerpt from a timeless essay in the Atlantic Monthly about understanding and appreciating introverts. For the full article, click here.

“Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially ‘on,’ we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: ‘I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.’”

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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5 Responses to “Understanding introverts”

  1. RH Host Marly says:

    Thanks for posting this article. I was a bit disappointed on “Jonathan’s” approach to helping others understand introverts. I saw this article as more of a complaining vent instead of its original purpose. He states that this world would be a better place if more introverts were running it. I say; Stop complaining and do something about it. As a cross between an introvert and an extrovert, I believe that diversity equals balance.

    Thanks again Ms. Jones, for sharing :-)

  2. Sarah says:

    You know I’ve had another version of that same article in my web browser bookmarks for years! I sometimes feel like a cross between the two orientations – I enjoy the energy I get from being with others but I definitely need my quiet time to recooperate.

  3. wellth says:

    Thanks, Vall! As an extrovert-on-steroids (only on a health site would I need to explain that I’m not really on steroids), I greatly admire the quiet disposition of introverts, and their ability to steal time away, quietly, regularly.

  4. Ted H says:

    I’m in full agreement, barring a dysfunctional motive to be alone, introverts shouldn’t be “fixed” or encouraged to get out more. We need contemplative quiet people who enjoy their own company. In regard to doing something to change the world, why not leverage the extroverts? A similarily minded extrovert can be the best person to champion introvert created ideas.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I find being an introvert a real challenge in the workplace — especially when working very long hours, week after week. I’m at a cube in a space-restricted building, so there are no places to go be alone with my computer and my thoughts all day. My ipod helps some to block out my cube neighbors, but it’s not enough. During the week I find I hardly ever have time to recharge, so want to spend my entire weekends at home resting up. But then — do I take a few hours to visit with friends, who I love, or do I instead get the rest I know I need, and put off seeing the friends until who-knows-when?

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