What makes an introvert happy? Really happy?
The answer to that question may surprise you – especially if you’re not an introvert. But it’s worth finding out if you’re friends with, dating, or married to one.
And while there are a variety of introvert personality types, certain things – many of which are FREE – appeal to almost all introverts. So if you’re aiming to make your introvert’s day or you’re a quiet person looking to have some fun, I suggest you try out a few of the following ideas.
#1: Cancel your plans.
Introverts love canceled plans. Tell an introvert that the meeting, event, or party is canceled, and she’ll celebrate (on the inside). Cancellations are even more exciting when they come in the midst of a busy week. Too much on the calendar means that there’ll be little to no time to be alone, and no introvert can recharge without alone time.
I’ve made plans on days when I craved social interaction. Imagining how much fun it’d be to have a few friends over, I planned a get-together, only to discover that I’d lost “the feeling” by the day of the event. What was I thinking? I find myself in these predicaments fairly often, so when friends or family tell me something came up and they can’t make it, I’m more than happy to say, “Oh, no problem. That’s TOTALLY fine.”
#2: Stay home on the weekend.
If you are an extrovert, you probably can’t wait to go out on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s how you get recharged after a long week at work. The hustle and bustle of a party, conversation with friends, or a night on the town gives you life. This is NOT the case for introverts.
Unlike extroverts, introverts recharge alone. After a long week, what they want most is peace and quiet! They want to hole up at home where no one will bother them. Then, they can read a book, browse the Internet, watch a movie, spend time with a close friend or two, or just relax.
Want to make your introvert happy? Try staying home on the weekend every once in a while.
#3: Visit the library or bookstore.
Many of the introverts I know love books and the places you can find them. Truly, truly, I say unto thee, libraries and bookstores are introvert havens.
These places appeal to introverts for a couple reasons. One of which is that libraries and bookstores are great places to nerd out on a topic of interest. If Jane, for example, can’t get enough scrapbooking, she won’t turn down a chance to dive into a book on the subject.
The other benefit libraries, in particular, afford is quiet. In a loud and busy world, they’re sanctuaries. When you’re at the library, you whisper or say nothing at all, and that’s the kind of magical atmosphere introverts crave.
#4: Spend time outdoors.
Many introverts are nature lovers who enjoy the calm of a forest, beach, or open meadow. The natural colors and sounds are soothing, and the quiet gives them space to think, stimulating fond memories, gratitude, and creative ideas.
When I was in college, I regularly stole away to sit by the Yellow Breeches River that flowed through campus. I’d find a spot on a log in the middle of a cluster of trees, not far from the water. There, I’d watch, think, and pray, while basking in the sunshine. Those peaceful moments are some of my fondest college memories. They restored my soul.
#5: Leave him alone with the computer for a while.
Sometimes an introvert just wants to get lost in research. When I’m reading about personality online, hours pass like minutes. My wife, who’s also an introvert, gets lost on indie sewing blogs. I know she’s in deep when I ask her a question but hear no reply.
Yes, researching a passion is great fun for introverts. Whereas extroverts know a bit about almost everything, introverts long to deep dive into a few subjects.
In elementary school, for example, you could find me with a stack of books on reptiles and amphibians. Then, in middle and high school, it was bass fishing. Since college, it’s been technology and personality. While the subjects will vary from introvert to introvert and change over time, you can be sure most introverts have a passion, and they’re happy when they’re researching it.
Music, talk radio, and conversation all have their places. But sometimes, quiet is what an introvert wants most. While introverts enjoy conversation with someone they know well, they also crave time to think, reflect, and process ideas and feelings.
A silent drive is an excellent opportunity to do all of these things. On the trip home from a friend’s house, for instance, an introvert may rehash her day, plan the week, or hatch a new idea. She may also wrestle with a question. What an introvert thinks about depends on who she is and how she’s wired.
On more than one occasion, I’ve gotten so caught up in my thoughts that I’ve missed my exit. I relish the drive to and from work each day for the think to time it provides. I need it to prep myself and to unwind.
#7: Just hang out.
Introverts know you don’t have to talk to have a good time. Sometimes just reading a book beside a friend is enough. In fact, introverts always have room for friends who can just hang out.
Coffee shops are great hangout spots. Try sipping mocha and people watching with a friend. Or find a place with a spectacular view, and enjoy it together. (This is why I like my parent’s backyard.) A lot of introverts are “old souls”, so you might just want to go for a walk. While where you are is important, focusing on just hanging out is the key.
#8: Go beyond small talk.
Small talk certainly has its place. It would be odd and uncomfortable if a stranger were to ask you about your greatest fear or struggle. You might think he was probing and try to change the subject to the weather or news.
But the role of small talk will never change the fact that introverts want to go deep. They’re people who have little patience for cocktail hour but can chat with a close friend for an entire evening.
To take your conversation deeper, try focusing on:
- Stories: Ask questions such as, “Who was your favorite teacher, and why?” and “If you could cook any meal for a guest, what would you cook, and why?”
- Open-ended questions: Ask, Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and How?
- Focus on what you have in common. Do you both love being outdoors, sports, or movies?
#9: Respect her privacy.
One of the best gifts you can give an introvert is privacy because, as I’ve already mentioned, she needs it to recharge. If you want to hang out and your introverted friend doesn’t don’t take it personally. Ask her another time.
And don’t worry about her! She’s fine. Just hit the road, and have a good a time, while giving your introverted pal some much-needed space. Chances are the next time you want to do something, she’ll be ready to join you.
One of the previous pastors at my church used to schedule his downtime on the calendar. When people asked him if he was free, he told them he had something planned. There was nothing wrong with him and wasn’t trying to drive people away. He just needed time alone to recharge.
#10: Give him time to think.
For introverts in the presence of talkative extroverts, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise. Marti Olsen Lani, Psy.D., author of The Introvert Advantage, explains that introverts need time to process ideas before they speak, as opposed to extroverts who process on the fly. Because of this, one of the best gifts you can give an introvert is think-time.
If you ask your friend a question and a long awkward pause follows, resist the urge to talk. Just wait. Give him time to think. You may be surprised by what he has to say when he finishes getting his thoughts together.
Your patience and commitment to listen, in turn, will encourage your friend to talk more. He’ll know that you respect him and truly want to hear what he has to say. And this, my friend, is one of the best ways to endear yourself to any introvert.