Wednesday, November 6, 2013

finding the sweet spot

Every once in a while you read something that nearly knocks your socks off. As often as I read, I can say that this doesn’t always happen. My family knows it when it does. I follow them (and by them I mean mostly Zac) around the house, reading bits and pieces, making exclamations of “no way!” mid chapter, and generally bugging the heck out of everyone.

Sometimes I am tough to live with. 

The book that has me exclaiming is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.

If you are an introverted type you will identify with this book. Even if you’re not, you will still find insight into the minds of these unique, quiet souls. Because nearly one third to half of all people tend to lean towards introverted on the personality scale, chances are you just might be living with one or more. Or maybe even raising a couple too.

In between writing for thirty days straight and the major life changing that’s been happening around here, I have made time for reading this. I’m really glad I did. 

The words that Cain shares about finding your sweet spot resonated with me, more than any of the other insightful things she shares. She dives into this by describing that most introverts are highly reactive, meaning they respond more to stimuli than their extrovert counterparts. In sum, their boats get rocked much more easily, and it doesn’t take much for them to be over stimulated. I can relate. Noise, mess, unplanned events, extended social engagements, noise, lots of people, crowds and more people all leave me feeling a little bit like I’m two seconds short of full blown temper tantrum. People, I wish this were different. It’s just the way it is.

Cain describes the sweet spot as “the place where you’re optimally stimulated.” There’s not too much coming in, and you’re not bored either. It’s different for each one of us. Right now I’m sitting in a quiet house, comfortable at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee just to my left. I am writing, which I tend to enjoy and find much satisfaction in. This is a sweet spot. If I added music into the mix I would quickly get overwhelmed. I’d also feel that way if my entire family came crashing through the door. This is my sweet spot. Soon I’ll be studying a few things that I’ve been wanting to get to for another project, while I slowly savor my coffee. In this place, all is well. Most days, this is optimal for me. 

She goes on to explain, “Understanding your sweet spot can increase your satisfaction in every arena of your life, but it goes even further than that. Evidence suggests that sweet spots can have life-or-death consequences.” It’s all about understanding ourselves, where we fall on the spectrum and how we can structure our lives to be at a place of peak performance. 

Honestly, we all have a finite amount of time, and if understanding myself and knowing my sweet spot helps me to make the most efficient use of my time then I’m all for it. 

Though I can stretch myself beyond my personality, and act like an extrovert for a while, my life should allow for me to get back to my sweet spot. 

“Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. A sizable part of who we are is ordained by our genes, by our brains, by our nervous systems...We might call this the ‘rubber band theory’ of personality. We are like rubber bands at rest. We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much.”


I feel like this is important as we launch out to our next adventure. And I realize that describing it that way makes me sound like an eager explorer. For the most part I am, but part of me wants to see the bigger picture first-before I venture off. But no true explorer ever gets to see that. What I know is that as we reshape our lives into God’s truest version for us, I need to know how I tick before I shape things. I don’t want to create something that won’t be a fit for me, for my family. I know that God does the creating. But I have choices in that too. He gives us free will and options, and I really want to know myself so I can clearly see how I can best function in our next season. Of course, there is always room for stretching. But I can only stretch so far. 

It’s probably much the same for you. You have limits. And knowing those limits can help you get to your sweet spot faster. The sweet spot is where the action happens, it’s where we are the most productive, most creative and most fulfilled. Knowing that, why wouldn’t we want to get there?

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