I have just devoured Susan Cain’s book QUIET. I really hesitated before I ordered the book and then took a few hours before I cracked it open. I say a few hours because I am a voracious reader and when a book arrives it feels like Christmas morning and I must take an immediate peek.
I hesitated because I am an extrovert and I really wondered what I could get from a book called QUIET or if it would even be enticing to me.
I LOVED it. Susan Cain weaves research, true stories and her personal experiences together in such a way to make me not able to put the book down. There were many parts of it that stood out, and one of those is when she discusses “Sweet Spots”.
“You can organize your life in terms of what personality psychologists call ‘optimal levels of arousal’ and what I call ‘sweet spots’, and by doing so, feel more energetic and alive than before.” Susan Cain
What does this really mean?
Do I really have the ability to have a life that feels good, does good and is good for me?
Is this not being selfish?
Should I not just do what is expected of me and shut up?
Doing what is good for me may be considered rocking the boat.
We are born into families that we do not choose.
We are sent to schools that we do not choose.
We have teachers and professors, who hold our academic lives in their hands, and we often would not choose them for ourselves.
We have extended family members who make us crazy and we did not choose them.
“There’s a host of research that introverts are more sensitive than extroverts to various kinds of stimulation, from coffee to a loud bang to a dull roar of a networking event- and that introverts and extroverts often need very different levels of stimulation to function at their best.” Susan Cain, page 124
Does this mean that we can decide what stimulation levels are good for us and choose career paths accordingly?
Does anyone teach us this in high school? Do we know that when we are picking majors for our college education?
We all know people who went into Law or Medicine only to hate the profession.
However, they find themselves in debt so they stick with it to pay the bills.
Little by little a piece of them dies. They have forgotten that they arrived there by choices and choices can get them out.
Very often, the thought of making different choices for our lives leaves us feeling paralyzed and unable to even think, let alone act.
Imagine if we accepted that we all had sweet spots and we are all capable of diving head first into work/ activities that activate these sweet spots.
Allow me to use myself as an example.
I am a coach.
I am a really good coach.
I hate to sell…I feel like hiding when I try to “sell” coaching packages.
I can, however, talk to every woman’s shelter and every support group in this whole world about my foundation, Indranis Light. I can do this because I am
absolutely sure that my life coaching classes are a crucial piece of the puzzle within the “abuse victim mindset”.
This is my sweet spot. I never tire of telling anyone who is willing to listen how important it is for us as a community to help women find their voices and step into their power.
I feel personally responsible to the younger generation of girls to teach them (through their moms) how to protect themselves from abusers.
I will suffer any amount of personal affronts in the pursuit of my goals for the foundation.
“Understanding your sweet spot can increase your satisfaction in every arena of your life,” this bit of wisdom from Susan Cain should be the ground on which we stand to investigate if we are living in our sweet spot.
Martha Beck also teaches us about living and working where our “essential” selves are happiest. Some of my friends have made incredible switches from one profession to another, like Dr. Sarah Seidelmann who left medicine to become a life coach and took a big pay cut but increased her happiness ten-fold. She even went with me to Gesundheit Institute last year to speak to would be medical students about her choices and her new life.
Sweet spots may not be easy to find and when discovered even harder to follow.
When we are in the sweet spot we are in “flow” according to Mihaly Csikszenthmihaly (chic- SENT-me-high).
I love the visual of being in flow. It makes me think of not fighting the currents or not arguing with people who do not understand me. It makes me feel safe to take a chance or to stretch a little because being in flow is safe and I am at optimum performance.
Susan Cain tells us that “people who are aware of their sweet spots have the power to leave jobs that exhaust them and start new and satisfying businesses. They can hunt for homes based on the temperaments of their family members – with cozy window seats and other nooks and crannies for introverts and open living-dining spaces for extroverts.”
Imagine a world where our temperaments were free to be 100% engaged….a world where we did not have to feel shame about being “shy” or “a loud mouth”.
The first step on this path is to begin to notice yourself: at work, at social events, within the family, at church.
Where do you sit?
With whom do you feel comfortable?
Do you feel like running and hiding from wherever you are?
Do you long to be a part of a different group?
Make good observations about yourself. Put yourself under a microscope and take good field notes.
Then begin to make small changes.
Perhaps sitting in a corner booth in a restaurant is more comfortable that sitting in the middle where everyone can see you.
Perhaps your extended family members are all extroverts and you are an introvert and it exhausts you to be around them. In this case it would be a good idea to increase your quiet time. Take more time for your own self, time to gather strength to be used later while with the family.
Perhaps it is the opposite. You might be outgoing and feel bored with your family. So go tire yourself out, get your fill then you can be in a restful space instead of wanting to scream from boredom.
It really is worth the time to get to know YOU. It is then that you can begin to manage your energy and feel good about the YOU that it is the world.
Love and light,