What follows are a few more segments of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
"(Finland is a famously introverted nation. Finnish joke: How can you tell if a Finn likes you? He's staring at your shoes instead of his own.)"
"(Newton was one of the world's great introverts. William Wordsworth described him as 'A mind forever / Voyaging through strange seas of Thought alone.')"
"Kafka, for example, couldn't bear to be near even his adoring fiancee while he worked:
You once said that you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing oneself to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind. ... That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough."
Introverts ... are constitutionally programmed to downplay reward--to kill their buzz, you might say--and scan for problems. "As soon as they get excited," says [University of Wisconsin psychologist Joseph] Newman, "they'll put the brakes on and think about peripheral issues that may be more important. Introverts seem to be specifically wired or trained so when they catch themselves getting excited and focused on a goal, their vigilance increases."
Introverts also tend to compare new information with their expectations, he says. They ask themselves, "Is this what I thought would happen? Is this how it should be?" And when the situation falls short of expectations, they form associations between the moment of disappointment ... and whatever was going on in their environment at the time of the disappointment.... These associations let them make accurate predictions about how to react to warning signals in the future.
If you're an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your on talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you're focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless.
So stay true to your own nature. 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. 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.
"[T]alk is for communicating need-to-know information; quiet and introspection are signs of deep thought and higher truth. Words are potentially dangerous weapons that reveal things better left unsaid. They hurt other people; they can get their speaker into trouble."
According to Free Trait Theory [as explained by former Harvard psychology professor Brian Little], we are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits--introversion, for example--but we can and do act out of character in the service of "core personal projects."
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.
[T]he 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.
"Restorative niche" is Professor Little's term for the place you go when you want to return to your true self.
We would all be better off if, before accepting a new job, we evaluated the presence or absence of restorative niches as carefully as we consider the family leave policy or health insurance plans. Introverts should ask themselves: Will this job allow me to spend time on in-character activities like, for example, reading, strategizing, writing, and researching? Will I have a private workspace or be subject to the constant demands of an open office plan? If the job doesn't give me enough restorative niches, will I have enough free time on evenings and weekends to grant them to myself?
We all write our life stories as if we were novelists, [Northwestern University psychologist Dan] McAdams believes, with beginnings, conflicts, turning points, and endings. And the way we characterize our past setbacks profoundly influences how satisfied we are with our current lives. Unhappy people tend to see setbacks as contaminants that ruined an otherwise good thing ("I was never the same again after my wife left me"), while generative adults see them as blessings in disguise ("The divorce was the most painful thing that ever happened to me, but I'm so much happier with my new wife"). Those who live the most fully realized lives--giving back to their families, societies, and ultimately themselves--tend to find meaning in their obstacles. In a sense, McAdams has breathed new life into one of the great insights of Western mythology: that where we stumble is where our treasure lies.