Intro or Extro – Which One Are You?

For many years, my husband was talking about extroverted vs. introverted people. For many years, my understanding of his talk was a complete opposite of what he meant…

Have I understood it now? Probably not completely, but some improvement is detectable. 🙂

For all those years, I understood extroverted as a trait of somebody who is open-minded, outgoing, enthusiastic –  a role model for a modern person. However, according to my husband, it is somebody always looking for happiness and satisfaction outside and his mind is rather distracted.

Look at today’s modern world. If you live in a city, think how many unconscious sensual stimuli will be thrown at you at a speed of light just on your way to work. Either you start becoming conscious of them and start filtering and balancing or sooner or later you will be stuck with diagnosis such as hypersensitivity, ADHD, burn out, etc. I don’t intend to underestimate the diagnosis of such modern diseases but we have to realise that a constant overload on external sensual stimuli is a huge stress factor.

You don’t even have to live in a city to observe this. Even in places like ashrams you might have observed people looking at
others during asana classes or trying so hard to fake meditation whilst thinking about the delicious prasad (blessed food) which will be served at the end. If you could observe this, then you are probably also one of them :). But please, no bad conscience. Each of us is on the road, in some sort of process. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Here.

However, the fact is, that in order to progress on the spiritual path, we need a certain portion of introversion, where we look inward and reassess our progress at every moment.

The extroverted character is especially threatening in children. When encouraged, they easily fall into the trap of instant gratification. What is this term all about? It is easy. You have a desire and you want it fulfilled NOW, immediately without further effort or waiting.

Have you ever observed the behavioural pattern of people in a queue? A such simple act of waiting has become a torture for many people. Why? Due to the habit of instant gratification overlapping delayed gratification. In modern times, we are so much used to getting all our desires and wishes fulfilled immediately. Do you want a new washing machine? It is just a mouse click away on Amazon. Do you feel like eating pizza tonight? Hop in the car and go buy one. (Talking from my own experience…)  We don’t just want a ceramic cup. The cup has to come in a certain size, red in colour and painted with flowers. If we don’t get it, we become cranky and are ready to blame the store or the sales person for it.

India was a great teacher for me in this regard and in many others also. I remember one time we were trying to get a certain type of curtains for our ashram. I invested months of effort and energy to get the ones I wanted that I finally gave up and bought cheap curtains of colour and pattern which I didn’t like. And you know what happened? Nothing! They still provide shade for the rooms. In India, you don’t get to choose the colour or shape. You are happy if you can get it at all! And I must say that I am truly thankful for this experience. There, when instant gratification happens by chance, you find yourself in a bliss state for days. 🙂

Isn’t this the natural process of life? Don’t I need to bring in the effort and then allow time to carry out the fruits of my actions? Isn’t it self-defeating to expect instant gratification of our wishes? Us as humans, the law of nature, the animals we all do not act at a push of a button.

Practice mindfulness. Practice meditation. Become conscious. These can be the techniques to prolong the time of reactivity and to strengthen your will and motivation for long-term goals. In spirituality, there is no shortcut, only adventure!