Appreciating Differences Review
Wagele, Elizabeth, The Happy Introvert: A Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self, Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press, 2006, ISBN1-56975-546-9, 189 pp, bibliography, index, appendix, endnotes, numerous cartoons.
As an introvert I was interested to read what Elizabeth Wagele had written and even more intrigued to look at her whimsical cartoons. She has authored and co-authored several previous books, mainly relating to the Enneagram.Her easy-to-read writing style and her cartoons get her message across in a delightful way.
In our society with its emphasis on a need to be popular, outgoing and ‘on stage’ most of the time, those who treasure a more subdued lifestyle will find that this book will give them a great deal of validation. As an introvert herself, the author brings together all the evidence and lots of examples of why being an introvert is a not only acceptable but something to be celebrated. Now when someone encourages you to be less retiring, you will have lots of reasons why your lifestyle is worthwhile and why you don’t want to change, thank you very much!
The author explains what it is like to be an introvert in an extraverted world in a way that is helpful to both introverts and extraverts. This is particularly important in relationships. If one partner is an extravert and the other is an introvert, often their reactions to one another can be misunderstood, and it takes conscious effort to get their thoughts across to one another. If both people are introverts, often one becomes more extraverted as the couple interact with the outside world.
The book looks at parenting introverted children, how to understand them and hints on how to accommodate their special needs. The chapter on adolescence alone makes this a worthwhile book to pass on to any introverted adolescent.
While creativity is not exclusive to introverts, the going inward process is very useful when coming up with original thoughts. The concept of extraversion and introversion was first seriously investigated by Carl Jung. The author explores Jung’s ideas on the concept. His ideas were further explored by Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs and then developed into the MBTI® instrument. There is a full chapter on describing the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types.
Of particular interest is the chapter on neurology and personality that explains what is happening in the brain, and why the introvert takes longer to come up with answers to questions, but often answers with more depth.
Introverts have to function in the outside world, particularly at work interacting with others. There are hints on how to maximize the skill sets of the introverts and how they can cope when they have to act in a more extroverted way.
As an afterward the author looks at the movie Napoleon Dynamite and analyses the characters in terms of their personalities. Napoleon is the ‘weird kid’ at school. Part of his weirdness is his introverted personality. The movie has become ‘hit’ with teens, making it cool to be introverted and a bit weird.
This book will provide trainers and facilitators with lots of material to explain the concept of introversion, but it is also a book that people can read and benefit from, as it is an enjoyable and easy read.