0. Book Highlights from "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain
1. This book is about introversion as seen from a cultural point of view. Its primary concern is the age-old dichotomy between the “man of action” and the “man of contemplation” and how we could improve the world if only there were a greater balance of power between the two types
2. It focuses on the person who recognizes the following attributes: reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned.
3. Many personality psychologists believe that human personality can be boiled down to the so-called Big Five traits: Introversion-Extroversion; Agreeableness; Openness to Experience; Conscientiousness; and Emotional Stability.
4. The most important aspect of personality would be where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. It's the "north and south of temperament". Temperament refers to inborn behavioral and emotional patterns.
5. Personality emerges after cultural influence and personal experience are thrown into the mix. We are born with prepackaged temperaments that powerfully shape our adult personalities. Temperament is the foundation, and personality is the building.
6. We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. A sizable part of who we are is ordained by our genes, by our brains, by our nervous systems.
7. We also have a limbic system, or "old brain", which we share with the most primitive mammals. It is emotional and instinctive and comprises various structures, including the amygdala, and it’s highly interconnected with the brain’s "pleasure center".
8. High-reactive infants, typically introverts, are those who respond to new sights, sounds, and smell, and are sensitive to their environments. They pay "alert attention" to people and things. It’s as if they process more deeply the information they take in about the world.
9. Don’t mistake someone's caution in new situations for an inability to relate to others. They're recoiling from overstimulation, not from human contact.
10. High-reactive introverts who had a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers. Often they’re empathetic, caring, cooperative, kind, conscientious, and successful at the things that matter to them.
11. High-reactive introverts sweat more; low-reactive extroverts sweat less. Their skin is literally “thicker,” more impervious to stimuli, cooler to the touch. This is where our notion of being socially “cool” comes from; the lower-reactive your amygdala is, the cooler you are
12. (Incidentally, sociopaths lie at the extreme end of this coolness barometer, with extremely low levels of arousal, skin conductance, and anxiety. There is some evidence that sociopaths have damaged amygdalae.)
13. The neurons that transmit information in the reward network operate in part through a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is the “reward chemical” released in response to anticipated pleasures.
14. The more responsive your brain is to dopamine, or the higher the level of dopamine you have available to release, some scientists believe, the more likely you are to go after rewards like sex, chocolate, money, and status.
15. Someone who is highly motivated to go after rewards would be considered reward-sensitive. Reward sensitivity prompts us to climb ladders and reach for faraway branches in order to gather life’s choicest fruits.
16. There's also the idea that reward-sensitivity is not only an interesting feature of extroversion; it is what makes an extrovert an extrovert. Extroverts, in other words, are characterized by their tendency to seek rewards.
17. Extroverts have been found to have greater economic, political, and hedonistic ambitions than introverts; even their sociability is a function of reward-sensitivity because human connection is inherently gratifying.
18. In the words of psychologists John Brebner and Chris Cooper, who have shown that extroverts think less and act faster on such tasks: introverts are "geared to inspect" and extroverts "geared to respond."
19. Extroverts get better grades than introverts during elementary school, but introverts outperform extroverts in high school and college. At the university level, introversion predicts academic performance better than cognitive ability.
20. We live with a value system called the Extrovert Ideal—the belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. He or she prefers action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, making quick decisions, and works well in groups.
21. Participation places a very different set of demands on the brain than observing does. It requires a kind of mental multitasking: the ability to process a lot of short-term information at once without becoming distracted or overly stressed.
22. This is just the sort of brain functioning that extroverts tend to be well suited for. In other words, extroverts are sociable because their brains are good at handling competing demands on their attention. In contrast, introverts often feel repelled by these same events.
23. Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.
24. Introverts prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk and think before they speak, they hate small talk but enjoy deep discussions.
25. Introverts tend to dislike conflict and meet people in friendly contexts; extroverts prefer people they compete with.
26. Introverts also seem to be better than extroverts at delaying gratification, a crucial life skill associated with everything from higher SAT scores and income to lower body mass index.
27. More creative people tend to be socially-poised introverts. They are inter-personally skilled but “not especially sociable.” They described themselves as independent and individualistic. Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.
28. While extroverts tend to attain leadership in public domains, introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields. Outstanding introverted leaders have spent long periods of their lives in solitude.
29. "Serious study alone" is the strongest predictor of skill for tournament-rated chess players. College students who tend to study alone learn more over time than those who work in groups. Even elite athletes in team sports often spend unusual amounts of time in solo practice.
30. What’s so magical about solitude? When you’re alone you can engage in Deliberate Practice, where you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly.
31. Some companies are starting to value solitude, and are creating “flexible” open plans that offer a mix of solo workspaces, quiet zones, casual meeting areas, computer hubs, and even “streets” where people can chat casually with each other without interrupting others’ workflow
32. Studies have shown that brainstorming performance gets worse as group size increases. There's three reason why: only one person can talk or produce an idea at once, some people tend to sit back and let others do the work, and people fear looking stupid in front of others.
33. In couples where the man is introverted and the woman extroverted we often mistake personality conflicts for gender difference, then trot out the conventional wisdom that “Mars” needs to retreat to his cave while “Venus” prefers to interact.
34. When a wife wants to go out every Saturday night and a husband who wants to relax by the fire work out a schedule: half the time we’ll go out, and half the time we’ll stay home.
35. Just as men and women often have different ways of resolving conflict, so do introverts and extroverts; studies suggest that the former tend to be conflict-avoiders, while the latter are “confrontive copers,” at ease with an up-front, even argumentative style of disagreement.
36. Since the days of Aristotle, philosophers have observed that these two modes—approaching things that appear to give pleasure and avoiding others that seem to cause pain—lie at the heart of all human activity.
37. There is something called behavioral leakage, in which our true selves seep out via unconscious body language: a subtle look away at a moment when you have to make eye contact, or a skillful turn of the conversation by a lecturer that sees it veering off topic.
38. It turned out that the introverts who were good at acting like extroverts scored high on a trait called “self-monitoring.” Self-monitors are highly skilled at modifying their behavior to the social demands of a situation. They look for cues to tell them how to act.
39. In other words, introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.
40. Yes, they are only pretending to be extroverts, and yes, such inauthenticity can be morally ambiguous and exhausting, but if it’s in the service of love or a professional calling, then it's worth it.
41. The best way to act out of character is to stay as true to yourself as you possibly can—starting by creating as many “restorative niches” as possible in your daily life, or places you go when you want to return to your true self.
42. We can act out of character from time to time, but we ourselves most of the time.
43. And once you understand introversion and extroversion as preferences for certain levels of stimulation, you can organize your life in terms of what personality psychologists call "optimal levels of arousal".
44. "Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act." —MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
45. Flow often occurs, Csikszentmihalyi writes, where people "become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself"
46. The key to flow is to pursue an activity for its own sake, not for its rewards. Many of the flow experiences that Csikszentmihalyi writes about are solitary pursuits that have nothing to do with reward-seeking: reading, tending an orchard, solo ocean cruising.
47. In a sense, Csikszentmihalyi transcends Aristotle; he is telling us that there are some activities that are not about approach or avoidance, but about something deeper: the fulfillment that comes from absorption in an activity outside yourself.
48. So stay true to your own nature. Shakespeare’s oft-quoted advice, “To thine own self be true,” runs deep in our philosophical DNA.
49. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multitasking, stick to your guns.
50. To find out what you want to do: First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. The underlying impulse is important. Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to. Finally, pay attention to what you envy. You mostly envy those who have what you desire.
51. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It’s up to you to use that independence to good effect.
52. Those who live the most fully realized lives—giving back to their families, societies, and ultimately themselves—tend to find meaning in their obstacles. It's one of the great insights of Western mythology: that where we stumble is where our treasure lies.
/END In short, when I read Quiet a few years ago, it really resonated with me and I think other people will feel as strongly if they read it as well.