‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’ (Book Review)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking  by Susan Cain.

Book by Susan CainI thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Quiet’.  As a well socialized introvert and someone who naturally has a genuine interest in listening & helping others and in having positive relationships, I have worked exceptionally hard over the years to cultivate my ‘extrovert’ skills.

Leadership has always come somewhat naturally to me, as my values correlate highly with the servant leadership style. In this approach, the foundation is based on working to serve others and a higher purpose. Therefore, it is easier to place my personal fears and anxieties aside as the focus is on giving and the greater good – not me.  That said, interpersonal relationships have required more attention and education.

Practice taking risks, learning more about different types of communication styles and adopting a ‘Just Do It’ attitude around the more challenging areas of life have helped. Learning more about who I am, how I perceive the world, gather information and what I need to do to support my best self has, too.

One tool I have found beneficial to both me personally and in working with coaching clients is the MBTI.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, one area of evaluation is Introversion/Extroversion spectrum. ‘Quiet’ deepens and expands the conversation around this topic, and extends an extensive amount of scientific research to support  it’s biological and genetic basis. This is a significant step in validating the somewhat intangible subject of personality and moving it from a social or behavioral arena to a discussion that is more credible, measurable and scientifically validated.

In ‘Quiet’ Susan Cain discusses Dr. Jerome Kagan’s research at Harvard University in his lab for Child Development. It is absolutely fascinating! His studies strive to support his claim that after just a 45 minute evaluation, he can predict at age 4 months which children would turn out to be introverts or extroverts as adults. His findings center around the premise that ‘high reactivity’ in the activity of the amygdala (a portion of the brain related to the limbic system) is associated with introversion.  His more recent research furthers the understanding around how this area can be managed and impacted: ‘Recent fMRI studies show that when people use self talk to reassess upsetting situations, activity in the prefrontal cortex increases in an amount correlated with a decrease of activity in their amagdala.’

As a life coach who often works with clients around monitoring and shifting both self talk and underlying beliefs, this research supports the benefit of setting goals in these areas.  As a yogi, it strengthens my belief in the power of using mantras. As a personal trainer, I am even more grateful to NIKE® for their simple, purposeful & motivating brand tag line.

It was interesting to hear Susan Cain’s evaluation of Elaine Aaron’s work around Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) and how sensitivity relates to introversion and extroversion.  Ms. Aaron’s books (‘The Highly Sensitive Person’, ‘The Highly Sensitive Person in Love’, ‘The Highly Sensitive Child’) are valuable resources in understanding more about what sensitivity is, the challenges of sensitivity in daily life and how it can impact relationships – most especially romantic partnerships & parenting – and includes practical tools for honoring and working with this gift.

Ms. Cain explores the field of leadership from multiple perspectives. I appreciated the education about Dale Carnergie (I am a fan) and his life. She notes that at the turn of the twentieth century his new approach to public speaking was the tipping point that seeded the roots of the Extrovert Ideal – which has become the prominent leadership style in the United States today.  She details how his style changed the ideal of what we look for in those we admire, who we are romantically involved with, what we look for in job interview candidates and how we raise our children.  She illustrates well that while many good things have come from his contribution it was also the start of the ‘Culture of Personality’ and downfall of our ethics.

She contrasts this westernized leadership view later in the book with the eastern approach in Asian cultures. Defined as a ‘soft power’, where ‘there is a subtle way to get what you want.  It’s not always aggressive, but it can be very determined and skillful.  In the end, much is achieved by it.  Aggressive power beats you up; soft power wins you over.”  I liked that.  It is followed with more… “In the long run, if the idea is good people shift.  If the cause is just and you put your heart into it, it’s almost a universal law: you will attract people who will want to share your cause. Soft power is quiet persistence.”  Mother Theresa, the Buddha and Gandhi were given as examples of leaders with soft power.

One third to one half of the population are introverts – whether they look like it or not.  ‘Quiet’ offers specific ways to identify and manage the challenges of introversion and extroversion in the workplace and in romantic relationships. ‘Quiet’ also provides a full chapter about children with specific ways both parents and educators can begin to understand and support the unique needs of the introverted child.

Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, has generously gifted our community with a copy of ‘Quiet’ to share with each other.  If you would like to read it, please email me and I will mail it out to you.  The first 8 people who receive it will also get a bag of special ‘Quiet’ tea, to enjoy while you are reading.  It’s delicious!  I know we are a community with a large population of introverts (so no expectation of public sharing…), and I invite you to post any of your thoughts & feedback about the book here at any time.  ~ Debra


Spring Yoga

In Chinese Medicine, there is one flow of ‘energy’ that runs through the entire body.  That one flow of energy can also be divided into 14 energetic pathways that follow one another to create the full cycle.  Each portion or pathway has an association with one of the organs of the body and impacts the health, wellness & vitality of that organ.

The pathways flow in the following order: 1. Gallbladder; 2. Liver; 3. Lungs; 4. Large Intestine; 5. Stomach; 6. Spleen/Pancreas; 7. Heart; 8. Small Intestine; 9. Bladder; 10. Kidney; 11. Pericardium; 12. Triple Warmer (Skin); 13. Conception Vessel (Sexual Organs); 14. Governing Vessel (Brain).

Acupuncture is a well know way to stimulate or release blocks in the meridians above.  Yoga poses also each have an association with one of the meridians and organs. Therefore, another way to impact the health of each organ is to practice the yoga pose associated with it.

Each meridian (and subsequent pose) also has a color associated with it, and a season or time of year.  The seasons associated with the meridians follow in alignment with the natural calendar:  Spring-to-Summer-to- Autumn-to-Winter.

The energy cycle begins with the Gallbladder Meridian.  If you look at a map of where the meridians of the body are located  you will see this pathway runs through the outer foot, leg, and through the glute, etc…  Yoga poses associated with this meridian include ones that will stretch the Abductors, IT Band, Glutes, Piriformis, etc…

It is easy to see how this meridian is the first one and how it corresponds so perfectly  to spring and the natural calendar. The color associated with the gallbladder meridian is new spring green. This color can be seen in abundance around us in the early spring days as new buds, leaves on trees and growth in nature all begin to emerge.

The Liver Meridian comes next.  Yoga poses that stimulate the mid-rear adductors and side bends are associated with this meridian.  The liver meridian is also associated with springtime and it’s color is pink!  Notice what comes right after the leaves start to bud outside – cherry blossoms.  It makes it easy to start to remember the order in which meridians flow by thinking of how things grow.

It is beneficial to include more of the poses related to each season in your practice during that time of year.  Therefore parivritta supta padangustasana, pigeon, standing side bends, gate pose and parivritta janu sirsasana are good to consider adding into your practice this month.   I’ve put together a ‘Spring Yoga‘ board on Pinterest to give you some ideas of what to try.  Click on each one, and most will give pointers for proper form…

If you are looking for something simple to follow or are short on time – this  ‘Spring Detox‘ workout from Whole Living is an excellent one, too!

Please post questions or other poses you are enjoying this spring!

Namaste,  Debra  :)

Fresh Ricotta, Beets & ‘Leftovers’

beet paintingBeet Pasta with Ricotta 

I love to cook, and am always interested in trying new recipes.  After testing out one for Classic Meatballs, I found myself wondering what to make with the unused fresh ricotta?  While leafing through this month’s Whole Living Magazine I came across a recipe for ‘Beet Pasta with Ricotta’. It seemed serendipitous to find it so soon after having the thought. I like beets, the recipe looked easy enough and I’ve always had great results cooking anything from Whole Living or Martha Stewart’s magazines. Perhaps this would be something to try?

The next day, while catching up on some professional newsletters I came across an article detailing that new scientific research on beets includes them as one of the overlooked new ‘super foods’, and a must have in our diets. As a longtime fan of the little beet anyway, I didn’t need prompting to choose it, and I was curious.

The article went on to describe the numerous health benefits of this beautiful root veggie and how advantageous it’s properties are to our longevity, physical and mental health.  Studies show that beets are high in phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory & detoxification properties, it can help control hypertension & heart attack risks, and includes two forms of beta carotene beneficial for eye health. Other studies support that beets can curb tumor growth in humans making it a powerful anti-cancer agent.  Wow!  And that was just the beginning…  As brain health is an area I am fascinated by, my interest continued to be peaked as additional information on the beet’s ability to boost serotonin levels, improve cognition and prevent & control dementia were added to the list of ‘good things’ about the beet.  Neat.  Anything I can do to keep my frontal lobe healthy & serotonin levels high sounds terrific. Finally, beet leaves have more iron than spinach. Ok, I was sold. Move over Popeye & honestly, move over creamy delicious fresh ricotta.  Let’s get some beets!

The recipe was super simple to make, and truly yummy.  I never would have thought this one up on my own.  I ended up with enough extra beet mixture to share it as a side salad to brunch with eggs, New Mexico green chili’s and Ezekiel toast.  Equally delicious!

I consider it a tremendous gift to live in a place where I have access to such a wide variety of healthy foods and do my best not to waste.  This often challenges me to be creative, and to stay committed to eating the foods I buy vs. heading for takeout when days are busy.  What are your thoughts on the beet?  Do you have any favorite ‘leftover’ tips?