Big Life, Small Life

I recently finished Laurie Helgoe’s Introvert Power, which is about, as is obvious from the title, introverts and their hidden, often unappreciated power to influence and change the world. The book sent relief through me, as do most books and articles I read on introversion. They make me feel as though I am normal in a world where it seems like everyone leads a “big life”—goes to parties, chatters endlessly and aimlessly to all kinds of friends, takes fun and Instagram-worthy trips…

The “small life”—cleaning up your house, writing a blog post, sitting around getting ideas for a story—the introverted life, in other words—is what is celebrated in Helgoe’s book. She exhorts her fellow introverts to be content with who they are and provides strategies to help them reach that contentment. The mantra of the book is basically this: It’s perfectly fine to be introverted. It’s not a mental disorder, it’s not weird, and you don’t have to apologize or make excuses for it.

The book discussed how America is an extroverted society, as evidenced by (among other things) our crazy loudmouth president who doesn’t think before he tweets and our love of everything involving parties and sporting events. On the other hand, Japan is a more introverted society that values the maxim of “think before you speak” and holds deference in high regard. I always wondered why I was drawn to Japanese culture… now I know why!

As always when I read books, I have complaints, but this time I have only two: (1) the book had a little bit too much of a “new age” or “moralistic therapeutic deism” vibe to me (You can create your own universe! If you feel it’s right, it must be right!), and (2) the author talked about herself and her life a little too much for my taste, to the point where I felt as though she was being arrogant and selfish.

Other than that, I’d recommend this book to my fellow introverts. We’re most definitely not alone. We may even be the majority.

4 thoughts on “Big Life, Small Life

  1. Maggie, your post reminds me of a movie from Italy that was very popular about 3 years back, and I think even won an academy award for best foreign film, “The Great Beauty.” It is about the “wild life” in Rome (which dates back to ancient history, it would seem) today. A journalist turns 50 and has a mid life crisis when he realizes that after many years of the “party life” he aspired to live, he really had nothing to leave the world despite great potential as a writer. A little “introverted time” in the end helps us to create and even live on in later years.


    1. I agree. And extroverted time helps us to live in the moment and enjoy time with others. It’s a balance, like everything else.

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  2. “You can create your own universe! If you feel it’s right, it must be right!”

    Yikes. That’s a really scary approach to reality. Maybe it’s because I write murder mysteries, but when I see that I immediately think of the dangers of that approach to the world and other people.


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