Before the Christmas season settles in and life becomes even more manic than normal, I’ve got a suggestion for you. It’s an experiment of sorts.
It may give you just the knowledge you need when the busy days of shopping, celebrating, and overindulging start in earnest.
The steps are easy and only require two weeks of your time. All you have to do is spend one week behaving as an extravert and one week as an introvert. At the end of the second week, compare your experiences.
Of course, one of these is likely to feel more natural than the other but read the two lists below and try your best to add as many of the suggested actions into the appropriate time frame.
• Engage with people. Speak to anyone who serves you, like baristas and cashiers. Start conversations with strangers who are standing in line with you.
• Smile as often as possible. Grin and say hello to each and every person you walk by. This is more difficult with a mask on, but your eyes and voice will convey your smile none the less.
• Say yes to every social invitation you receive. Use your common sense with this one. Never put yourself in danger and of course there are things that just aren’t possible due to work and family commitments. But try as hard as possible not to refuse.
• Make more eye contact.
• Speak up when an idea comes into your head. Don’t pause to think about it before you share.
• Be reflective. Take time everyday to think about your day and your feelings. Journals can be a great way to do this. Use prompts if you aren’t sure what to write about. You’ll find these online.
• Spend time by yourself, doing what you want to do. If you usually go out, try staying at home.
• Think before you speak. Take time to consider what you want to say before you share. If you’re naturally extraverted and rarely do this, make yourself wait at least two minutes after a thought comes into your head before you express it verbally.
• Choose to communicate via written rather than spoken words. Use email or text, rather than the phone.
• Socialize with individuals or small groups. Opt for an intimate dinner over a big party.
In your regular life, you probably enjoy a mixture of the two lists but this is about taking each one to the extreme so you can compare the experiences. I recommend keeping a journal regardless of which week you’re in. Jot down how happy you were each day, and what things made you feel good or bad.
At the very least, stop to rate your level of happiness at the end of each of the weeks. I find using a scale between one and ten, an easy way to do this.
Which type of behaviours made you happier extraverted or introverted?
Psychologists asked subjects to do exactly what I’ve outlined for you to try. If you don’t want to know the results before you step into these behaviours come back in two weeks. If you prefer to know the findings now, read on.
This study was designed to see how human connection affects your sense of wellbeing.
After this simple two-week experiment, the findings showed that connection makes people happier. You may know that. But sometimes it’s good to have a reminder.
I’m not suggesting that introverts aren’t as happy as extraverts. But extraverted behaviours tend to encourage more interaction between people. Introverted ones are more about self. However, being in the same room as others, doesn’t guarantee connection. I’ve experienced loneliness more than once while being in a crowd —even a crowd where I knew a lot of people.
If you smile, make eye contact and spend time with one person, you’ll feel happier than someone who is surrounded by people but doesn’t connect with any of them.
Self-reflection and personal understanding will make you feel better than sitting mindlessly in front of the television. Knowing that humans love connection, isn’t new, nor is the fact that when you feel sad or depressed you’re more likely to avoid spending time around other people.
Having this knowledge can be a huge help as the holiday season looms. If you feel your mood sink, reach out and connect with a friend or close family member. Even chatting with a total stranger will help you feel better.
Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. Act like an extravert and express them without premeditation or judgement. You may be surprised at how much better you feel, and the feedback you receive.
After you’ve spent time with the two different lists, feel free to make a hybrid one that’s perfect for you. Keep it somewhere easy to find. Refer to it whenever you notice your mood dipping.
Right now, the approaching holiday season seems shiny and new. That may not be the case in a month or so.
You have the power to make yourself happy. Don’t ever forget that.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.