Can Acting Like an Extrovert Make You Happier?

acting-like-introvert-Girl-Reading-BookAn article written by Sumanthi Reddy a few months ago addresses the idea that introverts who act like extroverts will be happier. This article is based off of studies that show that extroverts are, on average, happier than introverts. However, what this article doesn’t address is that pretending to be something you’re not isn’t fair to you.

The Difference Between Extroverts and Introverts

Extroverts and introverts have two separate approaches when it comes to social interaction. Extroverts generally enjoy being surrounded by people and having a high-stimulus environment. Introverts, on the other hand, may prefer smaller gatherings with fewer stimuli.

A common misconception is introverts are shy and quiet — however, that’s not always true. When the topic suits their fancy or when they’re around people with whom they are comfortable, introverts may talk non-stop. So, the idea of acting like an extrovert seems strange because, in a way, introverts are perfectly capable of maintaining conversations with people and being around others.

Should Introverts Act Like Extroverts?

This article makes it sound as if being an extrovert is better than being an introvert. Ms. Reddy says that acting extroverted — throwing yourself out there, being the life of the party and feeding off other people’s energies — will make introverts happier. Here’s the thing, though — how can acting like someone you’re not make you happier?

If introverts and extroverts were batteries, they would be charged differently: Extroverts recharge by external processes, such as being at parties. Introverts recharge through internal processes, such as reading a book. Asking introverts to act like extroverts is like asking them to use up their battery life, as opposed to recharging it.

Just Be Yourself

So how can introverts act like extroverts without getting mentally drained?

In this day and age, when children and adults are encouraged to be themselves, asking someone to pretend to be something they’re not seems counterintuitive. While Ms. Reddy’s reasoning behind her claims is that it’s been proven that acting extroverted make introverts happy, I have to wonder how happy you will be in the long run pretending to be something you’re not.

Contrary to Ms. Reddy’s article, there are numerous psychological studies exhibiting how there is no clear-cut difference in happiness levels between extroverts and introverts. Extroverts and introverts have different approaches to happiness. An extrovert will be happier in a large group of people than an introvert. An introvert will be happier staying in with a cup of coffee and book than an extrovert.

Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts, just like extroverts are capable of acting like introverts. Introverts function well in groups of people, and, despite what many people believer, are not always shy wallflowers at social gatherings. In fact, some of the most successful people in America are introverts —Barbara Walters, David Letterman and Diane Sawyer are all introverts who have made a living being around people. Even President Obama has been called an introvert. Introverts can be charming and charismatic, however, being outgoing for long periods of time does not make them happier – it makes them exhausted.

I’d say to all the introverts like me out there: Don’t worry about being something you’re not. Doing what you enjoy will make you happier. Changing yourself will not make you happier in the long run. Embrace your introversion and thrive with it.

But what do you think? Do you agree with the original article, that acting like an extrovert can make you happier? Let me know in the comments.

Scott Huntington is a blogger, writer, social media marketer Maxwell Systems. When he’s blogging, he loves to spend time with his family outdoors. Follow Scott on twitter at@SMHuntington.

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  1. Could we argue that extraverts would be happier is they act more like introverts? Does it work that way as well. I don’t see it as black and white. I feel happy being outgoing when the mood hits me, and I feel happy being more reserved when the mood hits me–although the latter occurs more often. This article is well written, but it draws attention to the inadequacies of introverts and the superiority of extraverts…until the last section that says be who you are. Let’s just hope the introverts get to this part of the article, lest they feel like they HAVE to act like extraverts. Thanks for sharing, Pat.


    • Scott Huntington

      Hi Bob! I’m sorry if it came across as saying that introverts are inadequate, and extroverts are superior. That’s not even close to what I was saying. I was commenting that the ORIGINAL article seemed to make the claim, and I was arguing that it wasn’t true.

      • Hm, I think Bob was skimming the post because the article did NOT come across as promoting the notion extroverts are superior or that introverts should act like extroverts. To the contrary, it says it right there in the first paragraph when talking about the original article: “what this article doesn’t address is that pretending to be something you’re not isn’t fair to you.” – this sentence suggests that the author IS indeed challenging the notion that introverts have to (as Bob said) act like extroverts.

        Great post, Scott – thanks for hosting this author, Patricia 🙂

        Your observation that introverts are not necessarily shy and they can too talk all night long if they find the right (although smaller) crowd – it just spoke to me. I have seen this so many times as i am definitely an extrovert and my boyfriend is an introvert. I love being out all night (occasionally) with large groups of people, even strangers – he doesn’t. But when we are with close friends who manage to capture his attention and challenge his intelligence – well, let’s say sometimes he gets so chatty that i am the one who wants to call it a night. 😀

        Great post – sending you some social media love 🙂
        Diana recently posted…Is PayPaltoSkrill dot com a Scam Website?My Profile

        • Scott Huntington

          Thanks Diana! And yes, I’ve always been somewhat confused about if I’m REALLY an introvert, because around the right group of people I’m the one who won’t shut up. Around a big crowd though, I won’t speak. And if I force myself to be extroverted… it doesn’t work. Just gotta be natural!

        • and here i sure didn’t mean to say “challenge his intelligence” LOL – more like be at his intellectual level (blush – ESL)

      • Scott, it is so interesting that you referenced this article, which I referenced in my upcoming book. I like you taking a contrary view point when you say things like, “Extroverts and introverts have different approaches to happiness.”

        Thanks so much for your insightful guest post.
        PatriciaWeber recently posted…Can Acting Like an Extrovert Make You Happier? by guest blogger Scott HuntingtonMy Profile

  2. Cheryl Therrien

    The best motto is to just be yourself. Trying to be something you are not is going to leave you very unhappy and dissatisfied.
    Cheryl Therrien recently posted…Willie Stewart: Author InterviewMy Profile

  3. Scott Huntington

    Very good point, Cheryl!

  4. I couldn’t even imagine what it would do to me trying to be an extrovert. It would be exhausting. As you said, it would drain my batteries. My recharge time would be way longer because of it. The fact is being anything other then ourselves make no sense to me. By doing so I truly believe you would appear disingenuous.
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Idaho Wines: The Snake River Valley and BeyondMy Profile

  5. Can you imagine asking some one who takes care of kittens, an environment where they safe and secure, to switch from that environment, in order to take care of Lions, Do you think they are going to acclimate instantly, or will they be in constant fear, or uncomfortable? How can one suggest that by merely switching, if you will,sides, that this new environment will make you happy! I’m an extrovert. I bask in the lime light. I love being around people, involve myself in activities foreign to me, and confront what ever challenge is thrown at me. I also enjoy the external environment, which extroverts thrive on.
    Many times you will look at a person who will not acknowledge you, nor engage you. Your first thought might be,that this person is either a snob, or too good to talk to you. If you are dealing with an introvert, that individual might not respond as expected, because of his/her behavior, which stems from shyness. As an extrovert, I don’t particularly feel comfortable around introverts, due to my outgoing personality. That’s why, I could never act like an introvert. The same applies to the latter. Telling an introvert to act like an extrovert, would place undue stress on that individual. Sorry, but I don’t agree with the writer. Blessings.
    Dr. Johnny Velazquez recently posted…Dare To Doubt Your DoubtsMy Profile

    • Scott Huntington

      Hi Johnny! I’m not sure you read it correctly, because what you wrote completely agrees with the writer! If you read it again you’ll see I referenced a Sumanthi Reddy article at the beginning that says introverts should try to be like extroverts, and then I spent the rest of my post refuting that.

      Or maybe I was the one that read your comment wrong and you were just saying that you disagree with the Reddy article.

  6. I think not being who you are is not going to make you happy.Trying to be an extrovert is not the right way. This world. would be very boring if we are all the same. I am an extrovert and being an introvert would not work for me. I have been around people that are introverts and I agree that if you get them on something that they feel comfortable with, hard to keep them down. There is no right or wrong personality and I don’t understand why we label people in the first place.
    Arleen recently posted…What is it Big Deal this Year at the Westminster Dog Show?My Profile

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