Extraversion: The Price of Now

What Is Extraversion?

Extraversion breaks down into the following two fundamental aspects: assertiveness and enthusiasm. 

Those high in assertiveness are the take-charge types. The so-called natural-born leaders. The game-changing alphas. (A valuable trait for a pilot, I might add.)

Those high in enthusiasm are talkative and charismatic. They’re the life of the party. The ones who make friends with enviable ease. (Don’t you just love to hate them?)

What drives extroversion is one’s propensity toward feeling positive emotions. In that sense it’s great to be an extrovert. It feels good to feel good.

And it does feel good to take charge. It does feel good to be enthusiastic about stuff. It does feel good to have lots of friends and sex. (So I’m told.)

I am not extroverted by nature, but I try my utmost to wear that hat when I enter the cockpit of an aeroplane. That feeling when you take the autopilot out and really back yourself. There’s nothing like it. (If only I backed myself!)

For the same reason, I try to be more extroverted when I sit down to write. I like to think of AP2 as my alter ego. He pushes the envelope of who it is I think I am.

But there are costs to extraversion.

How Much Should We Value the Present?

Perhaps the biggest danger comes from placing too much emphasis on the present. Sacrificing the future for the sake of a good time. 

Researchers tested this by offering participants a small sum of money now or a larger one later. They found a clear correlation between extraverts placing a higher value on the present.

And this is a good question to ask: how much should we value the present? After all, we may get hit by a bus tomorrow. Or we might live till we’re 101. We simply don’t know.

At any rate, this is an excellent way to think about those who score high in extraversion: Capitalising on the present moment to the maximum extent possible, even if that means sacrificing the future.

To give you an example, I have a friend (Who’d have guessed it!) who is very extraverted. He is well-liked and has many friends as a result. But he is fairly impulsive.

He lost his job once. To clear his head he decided to go on a skiing holiday. Fair enough, you say, but then he went on another skiing holiday just a few weeks later!

Ok, you say, so maybe he can afford it? Perhaps he has a plan? Maybe he has saved well for such an event? (He hadn’t.) So you give him the benefit of the doubt.

But then – I kid you not – as soon as he got back he jumped on another aeroplane and went on another skiing holiday! Of course, it was ski season, and he had many “friends” egging him on.

So he went on three separate skiing holidays within two months of losing his job. Naturally, he rinsed through his savings which put him in a spot of bother.

This is why it pays to be mindful of your nature. Extroversion may feel good, but there are times when one should reign it in. Sometimes you should feel bad.

The optimal state of being is not to feel good all the time but to feel appropriately good or bad given your current circumstances. 

If you feel good all the time, you’re more likely to take risks that you shouldn’t. (There’s a reason you’re given free alcohol at casinos.)

This is something those who suffer from manic episodes do. They feel invincible and go on spending sprees only to wake up the next day with a psychological hang-over realising they’ve spent every dim they had.

You think, “Hey, things are awesome right now, let’s place everything on black!” or, “Things aren’t so bad – one more skiing holiday won’t hurt…”

Evidence has shown that extraverts are more likely to struggle with addiction too. All those jokes about alcoholic pilots. Well, there is some truth to it…

Is Better To Be Introverted or Extroverted?

Now, the lines are blurred, but higher neuroticism correlates more strongly with introversion, which makes sense.

What’s important to stress is that lower neuroticism correlates most heavily with greater subjective well-being, not extraversion. There’s an essential difference between not being happy and feeling bad. 

Most of us are motivated by the avoidance of sufferingnot the pursuit of happinessIt’s just that extraversion is more “positively related to brain processes that associate contexts with reward.”

What I’m trying to say is that introverts are wired differently. So the things that make an introvert content and the strengths they bring to the table are different.

A good question to ask yourself is this: should I try to be more extroverted, or should I play to my introverted strengths?

Of course, it depends.

Introverts are more reserved by nature. They aren’t particularly excitable. They like to wait till all the cards have been dealt before placing any bets. They tend to be better listeners, more thoughtful, and more observant.

They get a lot more from spending time in nature and partaking in reflective activities. They love to sit quietly and read a good book with a nice warm cuppa joe. They value close intimate relationships as opposed to having lots of them.

Working by their lonesome doesn’t bother them so much. On the other hand, they might find a job that requires working with lots of people exhausting. An introvert probably shouldn’t marry an extrovert either. (Just imagine the horror!)

I would also argue that introverts should consciously work on their social skills. They should say yes to drinks on a Friday night every now and then. They should try striking up a conversation with a stranger. They should put their hand up and lend their thoughts.

People actually talk more when they’re happy. Like many things, it works in reverse. Opening up and talking to others will make you happier. It will increase confidence and decrease anxiety.

At the end of the day, we are social creatures living in a social world. This is where extroverts win big. Some of the best human rewards are social in nature.

As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who.

This is the major downside to being introverted: missed connections. Constantly putting off a good time for the sake of the future.

But the future isn’t a given. Sometimes a bird in the hand really is worth more than two in the bush.

Just ask my friend, he’ll tell you about this crazy time when he went on three skiing holidays within two months of losing his job.

You really can’t fault the guy for living… can you?

***

You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot or @PointlessOverT

You can also email him directly at: anxiouspilot2@gmail.com

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that believes you should become a minimalist by giving it all your stuff…

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 thing I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that has helped me grow.

As a bonus I’ve finished with 1 joke that’s so bad, it’s good.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) It’s funny how giving away everything for nothing in return gives you everything you want.

2) Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked. Looking after both for the sake of each other should be your first priority every day. (Try meditation, exercise, journalling…)

3) The more shit you have, the more shit you have to worry about. Don’t aim to have lots in life. Aim to have the few things you desire the most. Then learn to get as much joy and love out of those things as you possibly can. Cut out the rest. Less really is more.


2 x Quotes:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living.”

  • Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet
  • “…having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another. Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential – as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them. To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

  • Bill Watterson, the cartoonist and creator of Calvin and Hobbes

  • 1 x Thing:

    This brilliant art of manliness article: Via Negativa: Adding to Your Life By Subtracting. The article argues that the path to becoming a better person is often found by subtracting the negative from our lives. Well worth the quick read. A couple of quotes listed below:

    “Don’t ask yourself “What am I going to do to be a better man?” or “What kind of man do I want to be?” Invert those questions and ask “What am I NOT going to do to be a better man?” and “What kind of man do I NOT want to be?”

    Eliminating obvious downsides like bad habits and debt will provide a good life; eliminating good things so you can focus on the very best will lead to a truly flourishing life.


    1 x Joke:

    Have another far side comic for this week folks. Hope you enjoy!


    Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know in the comments section below.

    One bonus question to finish: What can you subtract from your life to make it better?


    PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

    Mindset Mondays – 15/03/21

    The Ultimate Form Of Taking Responsibility

    I read a quote the other day that said, “Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points.”

    It got me thinking about my attitude towards work in the past. 

    It’s easy to see how limiting the story in my head has been when I’ve shown up to work and told myself things like, I’m not going to enjoy this. 

    How I dragged my heels when wishing, I didn’t have to fly with that particular captain. 

    How I made everything so much harder than it needed to be because the narrative I repeated was so heavily rooted in what was happening to me

    How I had to fly through the night again. 

    How I had to fly with the difficult captain. 

    How I got the crappy rest…

    What happens when you complain about having to do something?

    You suffer twice.

    Once in imagination and then again when you have do it.

    What’s the tendency of someone who complains about something beforehand?

    They point the finger and blame others. 

    This makes things worse because it puts yourself in a position of not wanting to learn. It closes your mind. It puts you in a fixed mindset.

    One golden rule for life that forces you to take responsibility:

    GIVE UP BLAMING AND GIVE UP COMPLAINING!

    (FYI constructive criticism isn’t the same as complaining. One offers a solution the other is simply a judgment.)

    Easier said than done of course…

    So what if we looked at this from the angle of adopting an attitude rather than giving one up?

    What if, instead of trying to give up blaming and complaining, we said to ourselves, this week I’m going to show up with as much enthusiasm as I can muster?

    Instead of trying to catch yourself out for being negative, instead of beating yourself up for acting like a child, you simply set the intention to go about whatever it is you have to do (whether that’s work, doing taxes or washing the dishes) with an attitude of ‘fuck yes.’

    After all, if it’s something you have to do, why wouldn’t you make the most of it? Why wouldn’t you try to see how much you can squeeze from that bastard lemon!

    Let me go back to the quote I mentioned at the beginning.

    Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points. 

    Of course the idea of gaining 25 IQ points, which is a lot, isn’t meant to taken literally, but it gets the point across succinctly.

    If you show up with enthusiasm. If you turn a reluctant yes into a fuck yes the benefits can’t be understated.

    Just this week I had a simulator that signed on at 11pm and finished at 3am followed by a flight that signed on at 6am just two days later. Not exactly the roster I would have chosen for myself but you know what – I didn’t let myself complain about it – I just got on with it.

    In fact I told myself I was gonna be the keenest motherfucker on the flight deck.

    I reminded myself of my loving motives for doing what I do – that I was there to help others and to be part of something bigger than me.

    I reminded myself that enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points.

    How do you think I performed?

    I can tell you I’ve done much worse.

    I’m sure you can relate.

    Think about a time when you’ve arrived somewhere you really wanted to be – in which you really wanted to learn something.

    How did it go?

    I’m guessing pretty fucking well.

    Conversely remember those times when you wanted to be somewhere else – when you simply wanted to be at home although you couldn’t.

    Did that attitude help?

    I’m guessing not.

    We don’t alway get to do what we want to or, indeed, choose what life has in store for us. But if we make out that these things are what we wanted. That the struggle we find ourself in is what was meant for us, so we can learn and grow into the resilient mother fucker we were meant to be. Well, I suspect that such an attitude might just be the ultimate form of taking responsibility for your life.


    SOURCES:

    The quote is from Kevin Kelly‘s viral post ‘68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice‘ that he wrote on his 68th birthday. Can highly recommend reading!