~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Susan Cain's book "Quiet ~ The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" is reassuring. At least, it is for me since I'm a pretty extreme introvert. And it explains a lot of confusion and frustration that I experience and witness -- in myself as well as in other people. I mean, sure, we all know there are introverts and extroverts; the sliding scale spans a tremendous variety of individuals. But what I am enjoying in the book is that Cain clarifies our tendencies through the lens of our society and its history -- a society that currently celebrates the extrovert. It's a good reminder of our diversity; how to understand and appreciate each other a little better.

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised when I say that I am more comfortable in nature, or when reading/writing, than I am out in human community or trying to participate in group activities. So, I particularly like this quote from Cain's book where she is researching the nearly-mandatory extroversion of evangelical training and services (she earlier had shared her experiences visiting the highly-extroverted Harvard Business School):

"As the service wears on, I feel the same sense of alienation that McHugh has described. Events like this don't give me the sense of oneness others seem to enjoy; it's always been private occasions that make me feel connected to the joys and sorrows of the world, often in the form of communion with writers and musicians I'll never meet in person. Proust called these moments of unity between writer and reader 'that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.' ..."
"McHugh, as if reading my mind turns to me when the service is over. 'Everything in the service involved communication,' he says with gentle exasperation. 'Greeting people, the lengthy sermon, the singing. There was no emphasis on quiet, liturgy, ritual, things that give you space for contemplation.' ..."

The McHugh that Cain refers to is an evangelical pastor who wrote "Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture."

This isn't about one being 'better' than the other; that would be ridiculous. But it does point to our tendency to exclude and include, to put everyone into a one-size-fits-all, which can be so damaging to soul and, ultimately, to our world.

Of course, I first heard about Susan Cain through Ted Talks:


  1. I'm so glad you reminded me of this book; I want to pick it up at the library on my next visit. Your words describe me as well: thoroughly content on my own; too much stimulation (noise, busyness, people, lights) overwhelms me; I'm bored easily when around a lot of people for too long and yearn for some peace and solitude. As you said, we all have our places in the world and add value according to our own tendencies. Acceptance, not judgment, makes us all value one another more.

  2. resonating like a singing bowl in my heart!

  3. I haven't read her Quiet book yet but I love Cain's Ted Talk. I feel introversion is an important topic to explore. As you point out, "It's a good reminder of our diversity; how to understand and appreciate each other a little better."

  4. Thank you, dear women, for your thoughtful comments ... a beautiful day to all of you!

  5. Interesting thoughts... thank you for sharing them.

  6. Reading this is reassuring for me, too. My energy seems to deplete very quickly in a gathering of others, but repletes very quickly in a gathering of others who contemplate life the way I do. Even then I need personal space and quiet to process both the outer and inner world. Thank you for naming and validating this feeling.

  7. Well, I know it won't surprise you, Darla, to know just how much I relate to this. I feel most at peace when I'm out in nature---either alone or with friends who are comfortable with periods of companionable silence. There are ways besides talking to communicate.

    1. No surprise, Beth. Except that you are one of the "quiet" who also has such a softness and a welcoming soul that people flock to you nevertheless... :-)


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