Confessions of an Introvert

1. If I am not expecting your phone call, I will likely press ignore and wait for a voicemail.  It doesn’t mean I am not happy you called…. I am truly thrilled to hear from you!  However, impromptu conversations make me uncomfortable.  I typically listen to the message to get an idea of what the conversation will entail so that I can mentally prepare before returning the call.

2. I like social events… sometimes.  Being in large groups of people is great, but it is also drains my energy.  I often spend hours or even days psyching up myself to mingle.  After the event I will likely rehash ever brief conversation and interaction that I was involved in.  I enjoy socializing, but it can all be quite exhausting.

3.  By the time I join a conversation, I have likely rehearsed what I am going to say several times in my head.  I have definite opinions, and I truly want to contribute to the conversation.  I just want to express myself at the right time in the right way.  I arrange sentences several ways mentally before decided on the way that best articulates my message.  Often I rehears so long that by the time I am prepared to speak the topic of the conversation has changed.  This can become quite frustrating!

4. I am happy… even if I don’t look like it. I spend the majority of my time in deep thought.  Sometimes this gives those around me the wrong idea.  The blank look on my face does not mean that I am angry, annoyed, or bored.  I am simply in my own little world, and it’s a generally happy place. J

5. I get attached to people.  I do not open myself up very often.  Chances are if you know intimate details of my life, you are one of the few people whom I hold dear to my heart.  These few close friends mean the world to me.  Once I allow someone into my heart, I will truly treasure their friendship… forever.

6. I don’t want to change. Different cultures value various personality traits.  In the United States extroverts are highly valued.  I have often found myself in situations where well-intended (yet misinformed) people attempt to give me advice on how to "come out of my shell".  I admire the charismatic manner in which extroverts conduct themselves (which is part of what attracted me to my extreemly charming extroverted hubby).  However, introverts contribute a great deal to society as well. Being an introvert is a part of me to the very core, and I couldn’t change it even if I wanted to.

7. I am more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd than mingling with peers afterwards.  I actually find public presentations quite stimulating and enjoyable.  This arena provides me with a great deal of time to prepare and a captive audience.  No one is interrupting me before I have a chance to express myself.  I willingly took public speaking twice during my undergraduate and relished the experienced. However, I am terrified by the possibility of spontaneous questions or the obligation to greet people afterwards.

8. I express myself better in writing.  This makes email and text a powerful tool for me.  I can communicate with friends without the pressure of answering immediately.  When I am alone with my thoughts, I am able to express myself in a way that I would never be able to otherwise.  

9. I alternate between being in solitude and socializing.  There are periods when I need to be alone.  This allows me to recharge and gain energy.  After I have powered up with solitude, I am ready to face the world!  I love going out with friends when I have had the opportunity to prepare and boost my energy level.  Interestingly, this actually works the opposite for extroverts who gain energy from socializing and find solitude draining.

10.   I struggle with small talk.  When attempting to chit-chat I often feel as if I sound ridiculous or fake.  It isn't that I have anything against discussing the weather or current events, it is simply that I have a difficult time with it.  I would much rather jump right into the conversation that it is leading up to.  I love connecting with people, and small talk feels like a barrier.

Resources for introverts:

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

Author Susan Cain’s Ted Talk on the Power of Introverts (about 20 minutes long, and worth every minute)
An Introvert’s Guide to Networking – HBR blog by Lisa Petrilli
How Introverts Can Become Better Innovators – HBR Blog by Francesca Gino

Develop a Habit of Happiness

"Happiness is a habit… cultivate it!" - Elbert Hubbard 
Embrace life’s smallest joys. A few weeks ago I was walking up to the house with one arm was full of groceries and the other guiding Cupcake along beside me.  She was dragging behind and tugging at my hand.  I was tempted to be impatient and quickly asked her what she was doing.  When I looked down her little face was glowing with joy.  “Mommy, flower!” she exclaimed.  I had not noticed the small yellow weed sprouting through a crack in the driveway.  She was so excited to find such a treasure.  I opened the front door, placed the bags inside, and went back out to look at Cupcake’s “flower".  It was indeed a beautiful weed.  We shared a special moment and soaked in this tiny opportunity to experience joy. 

Moments like this are all around us, yet we rarely stop to enjoy them.  We get so busy that we forget to appreciate all the beauty around us.  By allowing ourselves to get caught up in these moments we are developing a habit of happiness.  I am glad that I have the tiniest joy-finder to remind me of the important things in life.

Practice daily gratitude. Studies indicate that those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude are better equipped to maintain a positive mood and experience emotional well-being. By truly taking a moment to express gratitude each day, you can dramatically improve your level of happiness. Gratitude often does not come naturally.  However, anyone can develop a habit of being truly thankful.  I highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal in which you jot down several things you are thankful for each and everyday.  This is a fantastic tool that allows you to focus on the positive aspect of your life.  In fact, those who wrote in a gratitude journal for a period of six month reported an increase of happiness of 10% (based on self-report surveys).  Express gratitude.  Everyday.

Cultivate positive automatic thoughts & avoid over-thinking. Take circumstance in your life and the actions of others at face-value.  Do not attempt to analyze or give them a deeper meaning.  If you are unclear about why someone reacted a particular way simply ask them to clarify.  If you allow yourself to assume that you know the underlying motives of others or reasons situations occurred you will often find yourself worrying over issues that may not even exist. 

What are you automatic thoughts when something bad happens? Do they lead you to try to analyze what the situation means about your self-worth or ability?  If so, you are setting yourself up for unhappiness.  If your thoughts help you to use the situation as an opportunity to brainstorm solutions, you are setting yourself up for success and happiness.

What are your automatic thoughts when you see an old friend while you are grocery shopping,  you wave only to have them turn away without acknowledging your greeting? If your thoughts cause you to dwell on this situation for long enough, you will probably come up with a list of reasons why they are being outright rude or why they might be angry at you.  In reality, they may have not seen you, or they may be merely having a bad day.  

Note: Automatic thoughts are those that initially pop into your mind before you have the chance to “filter” them.  People have a predisposition to have either negative or positive automatic thoughts.  However, they CAN be changed over time.

Stop comparing yourself to others.
If you are competitive by nature this will take some practice.  However, it is an essential aspect of happiness that can be learned.  I will be brief on this aspect of happiness because I have an entire post dedicate to this very subject.  Click here to read more.

Value yourself.
There is no shame in being proud of yourself for a job well-done.  As with all things, moderation is key.  However, many of us are afraid to truly allow ourselves to value the many things that make us special and unique.  We may feel guilty or uncomfortable when thinking about ourselves in a affirmative manner.  Each and every person has incredible talents and aspects that make them indispensable   It is not only acceptable, but it is imperative to develop a habit of valuing yourself. 

Give yourself permission to value the beautiful, unique person that only you were created to be, and you will be well on your way to developing the habit of happiness.

DIY Sippy Cup Leash

My dearest Cupcake loves taking her sippy cup along during car rides.  However, she often drops (aka throws) it onto the floor during the drive.  Two minutes later she will inevitably realize that she is parched and needs the sippy cup back immediately.  This leaves me with two options: become a one-handed contortionist while driving down the highway at 70 mph or listen to her whimper for the duration of the journey. 

Today I decided it was time to create a sippy cup leash. 
This is what I came up with. J  

You only need three items:
3/4" Elastic
7/8" Ribbon
Sewing machine

This is a super simple DIY and can easily be completed during naptime.

Measure out approximately 60 inches of ribbon

Create a seam on one end of the ribbon

On the same end, create a 2 inch loop.

Determine the amount of elastic you need.  
It should be tight enough to stay put and loose enough to stretch over the sippy cup.

Cut elastic to proper length and sew it together with ribbon on the end without the loop.

Sew elastic and ribbon together stretching elastic as you go along.  This will create a ruffle effect.

Create a loop on the end of the ribbon with the elastic.  
I suggest reinforcing the seam with a zigzag stitch.

Attach end without elastic to carseat or stroller strap and slip sippy cup into the side with elastic.

Voilà, behold your new best friend!  
This will save the sippy cup from getting lost under the car seat while driving or falling from the stroller onto the dirty ground.  Feel free to ask questions if anything is unclear.

Much love J 

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