April 14, 2016

Extroverts: Inside the Mind of an Extrovert

Meet Bob, a typical extrovert discovering the extroverted tendencies that can serve him well and can do him harm. Do you resonate with extroverts like Bob? Find out how to better understand extroverted tendencies.

A Day in the Life of an Extrovert

Bob wakes up late one morning and yawns. He was out past midnight last night, partying with his friends. It was an awesome time. But Bob is kinda depressed because he doesn’t have much of anything to do today. He checks Facebook to see what’s going on that he could get involved in.

No luck. Only nine in the morning, and already Bob is feeling bored. He hates the idea of just staying home, so he calls a few people to see if they want to go to Six Flags later that day. He’s in luck, about half a dozen of his friends are free, and they’d love to join him at Six Flags that afternoon!

Bob feels a bit better, so he turns on some loud music while he does a few chores around the house. But he quickly gets bored, so he decides to run a few errands while he’s waiting for the time to pass. He continues listening to his music while he peruses his favorite stores.

Finally, it’s time to meet up with his friends at the theme park! Bob thoroughly enjoys the rest of the day riding the wildest rides, playing games, and just hanging out with people.

He feels good though towards the end of the day he starts feeling a little unsatisfied. Bob, however, just goes on a few more wild rides to avoid thinking about it. Once the park closes, he finally goes home and passes out from exhaustion.

The next day, he begins it all again.

How to Tell Whether You’re an Extrovert

Bob is an extrovert. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s outgoing, though, he may be. It also doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an adrenaline junkie, though, he may be that as well.

Psychology Today tells us that,
Extrovertism is “a core factor of personality and is difficult to modify.”
It’s more than just a quirk or a simple trait, it’s an aspect of brain chemistry that affects how you draw energy and process things.

If you’re thinking in terms of how friendly or social you are, you may miss the mark when it comes to evaluating your own temperament.

Extrovertism is determined primarily by two things:
  • Your response to stimulation, and
  • Whether your focus tends to be external or internal.

The Source of Extroversion

The word “extrovert” should provide a clue that extroverts are generally externally focused, and they crave external stimulation.

External stimulation can be anything that enters the mind via sensory input including sights, sounds, colors, and other information.

All this is energizing to the extrovert and more so than to an ambivert so, if you are one, you will gravitate towards places and situations that feature a lot of new sensory information for you to enjoy and process.

To help identify with this personality type, About.com asks, "Do you tend to feel ‘charged up’ and inspired after you've spent some time with other people?"
Extroverts tend to find such social interactions refreshing and they actually gain energy from such exchanges. When extroverts have to spend a lot of time alone, they often begin to feel uninspired and listless.
As another research article on the website explains, extroverts are also more action-oriented than thought-oriented. They generally speak and act without copious amounts of thought beforehand, and will use those words and actions to process and work through things rather than mulling them over in isolation.

Again, it comes down to being more focused on the external than the internal.

Famous Extroverts

Have you determined whether you’re an extrovert? If you have, you’re in very good company.

As action-oriented people who aren’t easily overwhelmed, extroverts are well-suited to make a big impact on the world in many ways.

The website MyPersonality lists dozens of famous extroverts, including many beloved actors such as Don Knotts, Sally Field, Jack Benny, Mae West, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as other powerful public personalities like Billy Graham, Oprah, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Successful visionaries such as Walt Disney and Bill Gates have also utilized their combination of energy and enthusiasm to accomplish amazing things.

Several American presidents have been extroverts, among them Lyndon B. Johnson, James Monroe, and Theodore Roosevelt.

The internet (particularly Tumblr) may sometimes make it seem like introverts are the secret power behind society and the most truly advanced human beings, but that’s because the internet is mainly populated by introverts!

As you can see from this very limited list, powerful and brilliant extroverts have been many and varied throughout history.

Your type, whether it be introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, like any other part of you, is just one trait among many, to be used or abused as you decide.

Pitfalls to Avoid

As wonderful as extrovertism can be, it’s not a “just add time” recipe for success. All of the people named above had things to overcome as-well-as embrace. Building good habits takes both time and hard work.

Let’s look back at Bob’s day. Bob’s problem boils down to this: he’s not putting in the effort and discomfort it takes to work towards balancing his life and his energy. He essentially does whatever his chemistry drives him to do, whether it’s healthy or not.

This is natural, but to lead a balanced and satisfying life, it's important we look ahead.

Bob enjoys spending time with his friends. He enjoys going to new places and doing new things. None of these are bad traits. The problem is his lack of discipline in how he pursues what he enjoys.

He goes out of his way to avoid being bored or having time alone in the silence to process through the fun things he’s experiencing, which will eventually lead to him feeling burned out and dissatisfied without knowing why.

His drive to be stimulated will also tend to inhibit his productivity, he’s easily bored and wants to have fun all the time (who doesn’t?) so he procrastinates on work that doesn’t stimulate him. And, unfortunately, not everything in life is going to be stimulating all the time.

Make Time to Find Balance

To make his life more balanced and fulfilling, Bob needs to take a step back and examine his routines and patterns.

He needs to weigh the time he spends with others in public, against time spent alone to internalize and process so he doesn’t wear himself out, even if he doesn’t always feel like being alone.

He should also try to balance things that bring him joy and energy with those necessities of life that can be just plain boring. And, he should remember that not all of his friends may want to hang out as often as he does, and that’s not because they like him less, it’s just because they may not crave the same level of interaction the way he does.

Strengths to Embrace

Enough about tendencies to overcome, let’s talk about tendencies that Bob can use for good to further his success and fulfillment!

Bob loves to be around people and he enjoys new experiences, two things our brains are hardwired to need in order to thrive.

He is a natural when it comes to initiation, and will most often be the one who reaches out to make things happen. He doesn’t wait for others to put things in motion, and he doesn’t overthink things. These are incredibly valuable traits.
With just a little bit of wisdom and balance, his energy can be nearly unlimited.
There are endless supplies of stimulation in the world to get his brain going, and there are also endless ways to put that energy to good use.

While his enthusiasm may be a bit much for some people, it’s a valuable asset that he should definitely hang onto. It can invigorate and inspire those around him, making him a natural leader.

He is also skilled at making others feel at ease in conversation because he’s comfortable talking to people, and is always ready to ingest new information.

He shouldn’t feel ashamed of his joy in the new, the exciting, and the social scene. As long as he doesn’t overdo it, these traits can serve him and those around him very well indeed.

A Day in the Life of a Balanced Extrovert

Bob wakes up refreshed after a good night’s sleep and spends a few minutes evaluating the day before him. He puts together a loose, flexible plan for the day ahead before he gets up and begins his tasks for the day, listening to music as he works.

Realizing he has nothing scheduled for that night, he calls a few friends to see if they want to get pizza and see a movie that evening.

Bob coordinates the event, then pauses to evaluate how he’s doing. He notices that he’s starting to get a little restless. So he decides to take a quick run around the neighborhood. This allows him to get out and get his blood pumping.

During the afternoon, he alternates between studying he needs to do and playing his favorite video game. Rewarding 50 minutes of study with 10 minutes of play to keep his mind from getting too bored and stagnant.

After he’s studied for a couple of hours, a friend calls to see if he wants to go out and grab a frozen yogurt. Bob enjoys being flexible and leaves himself enough wiggle room in his daily plan for spontaneity. So, he agrees and heads out to join his friend for some sweet fun.

From there, he heads to the movie with a group of his buddies. They then grab some pizza and stay a few hours talking and laughing.

Bob keeps an eye on the time and after awhile excuses himself to go home and get the amount of sleep that works best for him.

That night he rests well again, feeling satisfied and ready for a new, energetic day tomorrow.

See alsoPersonality vs. Character: Are They Really that Different?

Be like Bob

It didn’t take any dramatic changes for Bob to find a more balanced life that suits his temperament. All it took was observing himself honestly. Identifying the best ratio between the daily activities that drain him, and those that energize him.

Take a few minutes to look at your own life. See what small changes you can make to embrace the best parts of being an extrovert.

Check out the other articles in this 4-part series which include: "Inside the Mind of Extroverts, Introverts, and Ambiverts."