“When I began this book, I wanted to resolve the paradox of meditating in the mosh pit — to emancipate introverts from the constraints of an extroverted society. But the reality of the mosh pit woke me up to something new.”
Psychologist Laurie Helgoe also writes in her book “Introvert Power” about her early life – perhaps you can relate, especially if you are introverted and/or highly sensitive:
“I’ve come to see the mosh pit as an apt description of American society — and of my childhood home. I was number nine of ten creative, mostly LOUD kids competing for airspace.
“My dad, a pastor who built pipe organs as a hobby, had wall-sized speakers in the living room that blared out classical music. When the family sang together, we sang five-part harmonies of the uncompromising Handel’s Messiah. On Christmas Eve, we had a talent show and family service, and later tore into our presents all at once, paper and ribbons flying everywhere…
“These are happy memories, because there was a part for each of us. But instead of ripping paper and shouting, I sat in my corner with my pile of gifts and handled each as a treasure, slowly and carefully opening them, preserving the paper and lingering in the delight of discovery.
“I was meditating in the mosh pit.”
Video: Introvert Power
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Like many journalists and others (including myself) who write about personality and other aspects of psychology, Helgoe at times frames her discussion in a conveniently binary, one-or-the-other way, such as introverted or extroverted.
But, of course, we are complex beings – and even “very” introverted people (as I am) can at times shift where we are on the spectrum, and do more extroverted things.
“An introvert does not merely slide into extroverted society and meditate there. She’ll get pushed to the side, or trampled. Her meditation will not be recognized.
“Be silent in a group of extroverts, and they’ll happily consume the space. Our power does not easily translate into contexts dominated by extroversion…
“Our society is made up of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts. Even my family, I now know, reflects this mix. Both realities are always present — mosh pit and monastery, yang and yin.
“Introversion is coming of age. It is no longer enough to complain that extroversion won’t let us be introverts. Of course extroversion won’t let us be introverts; extroversion does not know how.”
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Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, PhD – a review by Brian Johnson
In his video, Brian Johnson asks, “Are you in integrity with who you are or are you ashamed of who you are?
“I know as an introvert, which is what I am – you may think I’m an extrovert but I’m not – I totally prefer quiet mellow times and never like going out and going to bars and doing all that kinda stuff.
“I feel alienated in those environments.
“I have always enjoyed one-on-one conversations, not a ton of people, and I love reading and quiet time, but I used to be ashamed of that; there’s a part of me that thought something was wrong with me.”
Brian Johnson is “the Philosopher + CEO of en*theos — a company that’s all about inspiring and empowering people to optimize their lives so we can change the world together.”
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The kinds of environments we may be born in – or choose to live in – can influence creative work.
The following passage by Helgoe reminds me of George Orwell choosing to write “Nineteen Eighty-Four” while living in Barnhill (1946-1949), an abandoned farmhouse on the isle of Jura in the Inner Hebrides.
He said, “Everyone keeps coming at me, wanting me to lecture, to write commissioned booklets, to join this and that, etc – you don’t know how I pine to be free of it all and have time to think again.”
From my article Solitude and creative expression.
“Norden, meaning ‘the north,’ refers to the countries that make up the Nordic Council: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
“The lands that produced the great existentialist Søren Kierkegaard (Denmark) and master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman (Sweden) reflect their deeply introspective characters. Geographic isolation and long, dark winters are conducive to ‘going inside,’ psychologically as well as physically.
“At its darkest, around December 21, northern Norway sees no day at all; the sun does not rise. Intellectual pursuit and creativity also thrive in Norden, and introverted thinkers find a welcoming environment.”
Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe, PhD.