I’m an introvert.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve had me as a teacher, or seen me on the dance floor, and you just can’t believe I’m introverted.  I didn’t realize it either, until I got to know myself and what I needed to stay replenished, inspired, happy, peaceful, and able to give my best self to the people and things that matter in my life. According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, “People tend to confuse shyness and introversion.”

I asked myself Cain’s question: “Do you recharge your batteries when you are alone or in the company of close friends, or do you recharge by being out and about doing very stimulating things?” The answer was obvious: I recharge the first way. And that’s how I knew I was introverted! I started to really understand myself in the world. I’m an introvert who’s not shy or reclusive because I need people, but need to be alone to recharge.

According to Brian Little of Cambridge University, we’re born with a certain nature that’s embedded in our personality. We each need just the right amount of arousal, from interaction and other stimuli, for optimal functioning. Too much for an introvert and they get anxious, too little for an extrovert and they get bored.

Do you give yourself permission to be however you are?

If you are introverted, you can still go to parties, and if you’re extroverted you can sit quietly to read study for an exam. You can step out into your Second Nature when you need or want to, but you pay a price when you consistently go against your First Nature, and that price can be high.

We all need restorative niches, places of recovery where we act according to our First Nature and replenish ourselves. My niches are the garden, spiritual practice, cooking and baking, playing music, journaling, and tending to my home. What are yours?

Here are 4 simple steps to finding and following your First Nature:

  1. Get to know yourself by observing how you are in the world and at home.
  2. Seek to understand your universal and unique needs and wants.
  3. Do a self study by asking:
    • What can I learn from the happiest periods of my life?
    • What can I learn from the unhappiest periods?
    • When do I feel I’m thriving, experiencing peak performance, and having peak experience?
    • What was unique about my life at times of thriving and flourishing?
    • Be yourself! Learn to say No and, as much as possible, fill your life with meaningful, important, pleasurable activities and lots of restorative niches.

What’s your favorite restorative niche? Share in the comments section below: