If I'm an Introvert, Does that Mean I Will be Less Happy and Healthy?
Study after study shows that socializing is healthy, that people who have social activities in their lives tend to be happier and have greater well-being (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009). What does this mean if you prefer quiet activities alone? Does it mean you are less healthy and more likely to be depressed?
To answer this question it is important to understand how research is done. The public often mistakenly believes that the outcome of scientific research applies to everyone. So if research indicates that those who socialize frequently are happier, then they believe that is true for all people. This is a common error because that is often how the media presents the results of research.
However, research examines group differences which means that it looks at the average across a group of people. Think of it this way. Just because the average IQ is 100, it doesn't mean that everyone has an IQ of 100. The same is true of other research. In the case of social activities and well-being, the average person may be happier and healthier having more friends and opportunities for socializing but that doesn't mean everyone is.
So, if you are an introvert and content with quiet activities alone, that doesn't mean you will be depressed, lonely, and unhealthy.
But the key to resolving this issue for yourself is how honest you are with yourself.
Are you isolating out of fear or depression?
Or, do you truly get joy out of working alone, solitary walks, gardening, reading, your pets, etc?
And—how will you feel if your best friend moves away or your spouse dies (after the grief, of course)?
If deep down you truly want to be with others and feel lonely in your isolation, then you are more likely to be affected health-wise.
Yet, for those who truly enjoy solitary activities or who may be content with occasional social activities, happiness and health can be just as obtainable as for those who are more socially active.
Sin, N.L. and Lyubomirsky. S. (2009). Enhancing Well-Being and Alleviating Depressive Symptoms With Positive Psychology Interventions: A Practice-Friendly Meta-Analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65, 467-485. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.20593
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