books · english · review

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

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I nodded many times when I read this book, as this book is a kind of self-affirmation reading for me (and my husband). Both of us are introverts, but often take the opposite sides of introversion. As Susan Cain writes, there are a lot of sides of introversion, in which different people may have some but not the other traits.

It’s interesting how Susan explains how ‘the culture of personality’ takes over human interaction in the 20th century, where people are expected not only to sell product or service, but also ‘themselves’. “We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal – the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.” (page 4).

Here are several notes I take from this book:

  1. the excessive collaboration and open-office systems happening right now are not always the better ways to improve creativity and achieve goals.
  2. both introvert and extrovert leaders can produce the same effective results, if only they recognize the character of their teams.
  3. the ‘rubber band theory’ and ‘free trait theory’: we are elastic and can stretch our personality, but only until a certain point. A lot of introverts act as pseudo-extroverts if they think it will beneficial for things that matter to them (their job, people they love, etc.). But still, they need their solitude to calm their mind at the end of the day.
  4. several cases on how to deal with extrovert-introvert conflict, as well as how to nurture the potency of our introvert children.

Susan also argues about the correlation of genetic make-up (short allele of SERT gene) with high-reactivity and introvert people. However, I think it’s still a very early conclusion as there is no research paper directly prove the correlation of SERT and introvertness. We still need more effort to prove the biological correlation between genetic make-up and human traits (if any).

Reading this book makes me realize some reasons underlying my actions. After an intense and happy vacation with family or friends, I need a day or two to ‘take a breath’. My husband and I find that the maximum time we should go out in a week is three (attending events, dinner or lunch with our friend). In addition to the conversation during dinner time, our quality time is when we lay beside each other, he watches some youtube videos (about game strategy, or news, or cute kitten) while I read a good book. We enjoy our solitudes! Lucky me that we understand each other the importance of this kind of solitude 🙂

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books

Option B [Book Review]

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Sheryl Sandberg might be a role model for a lot of so-called modern women: smart, owns a good career and portfolio, beautiful, and a very good writer (the last one is my impression after reading her book). She also has a great family until a tragedy happened, the sudden death of her husband. In this book, Sandberg writes about how she deals with hardships after that tragedy. This book is also co-written by Adam Grant, who provides various psychology theories and experiments that are relevant to Sandberg’s effort to build her resilience.

While I don’t suffer from any tragedy in my life recently, I think this book provides several interesting lines that apply to our daily lives. We all need “option B” to deal with a lot of daily problems and enjoy our lives. Here are some of my notes:

  • The amount of our resilience isn’t fixed, so we need to put effort on how to become resilient. Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity, and we can build it. (page 10)
  • 3 P’s theory from Martin Seligman: personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence. We could speed up our recovery from any hardships by: (1) realize that not all bad things happened are our faults (intrinsic factor), but are also affected by external factors; (2) our hardships will not affect our entire aspect of life, and will not last forever. (page 16)
  • We often avoid painful conversation with people who suffer from hardships (serious illness, family’s death, etc.), sometimes we even avoid to talk to those people since we don’t know what to ask and we don’t want to hurt those people by asking some ‘dumb’ questions. Actually, we need to talk to them. It’s more hurtful to suffer from cancer and everyone around you avoid talking about cancer. Sanberg elaborates this topic in the chapter “kicking the elephant out of the room”, and I really like this topic as I found myself as the one who often avoided difficult conversation :(. “Instead of making assumptions about whether or not someone wants to talk, it’s best to offer an opening and see if they take it.” (page 40)
  • When people are in pain, they need a “button” (page 47). A button here is an emergency moral support they can rely on, which surprisingly could improve people’s resilience even though they don’t really use this emergency button. Just thinking about this kind of button makes people more assured and secure.
  • Labeling negative emotions makes them easier to deal with (page 63). Keeping a journal or record ourselves could be ways to shed our emotions.
  • A traumatic experience could trigger post-traumatic growth in 5 different forms: finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationship, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities (page 79).
  • When we look for joy, we often focus on the big moments (graduating from school, having a child, getting a job, etc.). But happiness is the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Rather than waiting until we’re happy to enjoy small things, we should go and do the small things that make us happy (page 100). These are my favorite self-reminder lines!

Before reading this book, I saw mix reviews in Goodreads and Amazon about this book. A lot of readers point Sandberg’s advice would not work for a majority of people without any privilege as Sanberg has. But, I found that this book contents could be applied generally to any situation other than losing someone. One of my friends also says: “The right time to read a self-help book (like this one) is before the real tragedy happens, to prepare ourselves. Because, once a tragedy happens, it’s natural that we couldn’t think clearly to digest any book.” Well, I couldn’t agree more.

books

Back to my (not-so) old love: books

 

 

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Every time I have a chance to write down my hobbies, reading is always at the top of the list. I used to be an avid reader. Bookstore and library are my favorite places in the world. Have you ever felt a calming feeling steps in your heart whenever you see rows of bookshelves or piles of books? That happens to me.

But, I almost forgot my love to books in the past 3-4 years. I used my ‘busy’ life as an excuse to run away from real books. Honestly, I felt it was difficult and focus to read an entire book. I got bored after some pages of reading. This was so strange as when I was a child until teenage, I used to read hundred of pages a night (for some books!).

But, from the beginning of this year until June, finally I made a quiet great achievement for myself: found my way back to reading books. Hurray!

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I found my love back to books. Honestly, I push myself to enjoy reading book again. There’re 2 reasons that drive me to read: a cool library near my house and my effort to stay away from screens. Early on this year, I did a small literature research about how screens, internet, and technology affect our brain. The result blew my mind (I might write about that in this blog later). Further, I read “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, who campaigns the importance of build a healthy relationship between technology and ourselves. Hence, I need to find a way to stay away from screens, and book is still the best option for me (I tried several handcrafts, turns out it did not work well 😦 ).

As I am such a forgetful person, I also try to review and write some key points of the books I read here. So, welcome back my love 🙂

 

books · review

Letters to a Young Muslim [Book Review]

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This is an interesting book written by the former ambassador of UEA to Russia, Omar Saif Ghobash, as collection of letters to his son. Ghobash himself owns a strong background story to invite his son (and other young muslims) to reflect how we should practice Islamic value in this modern world. Ghobash’s father was shooted by another muslim when Ghobash was a child. Furthermore, Ghobash’s mother is a Russian, which introduce him as well to culture other than only arabic muslim.

In most parts of his book, he suggests us to think any Islamic rule and value not only in ‘black vs white’ sides. There’re a lot of aspects on this life, especially in this modern day, and a lot of those aspects lays on grey areas. There’re several arguments and narrations from Ghobash that trigger me to think more about myself as a Muslim, such as:

  • There was no reason to hate anyone. There is no reason to react to the world around you with hatred. You have to understand that someone has made the choice for you when they say you have to hate. The choice is yours and the only way you can make the world a better place is by doing the opposite of hating. It is by loving.” (page 3). He writes these sentences to counter the hatred idealism and action by some of the so-called radical muslim.
  • “What is the essence of Islam? What is it that distinguishes Islam? What is it that makes you a Muslim or something else?” (page 29)
  • Islamic interpretations coming out of the Arabian peninsula are dry and relatively harsh, a reflection of perhaps of the desert environment. Life in the desert was tough and literally a place of black and white.” (page 39). This passage explain a bit why Islam that can be found in Indonesia is on the more moderate side, just my two cents.
  • “What I am saying to you is that you need to make sure that you understand that those with plausible authority (i.e. clergy) are also human beings like you and me. They are human beiings, who can and will be distracted by the traditional human temptations of power, money, and sex.” (page 71). I found this is ridiculous, but to certain extent is exactly a reality.
  • “Rather than thinking in black and white, we should think with all the colors of the rainbow (muslim diversity) and see Islam as a moreally ad ethically rich faith. The blac-an-white approach is one that sets Muslims in conflict with one another neddlessly and robs us all of our humanity.” (page 76)
  • “It is not enough to chant in public that Islam is not violent or radical or angry – that Islam is a religion of peace. We need to take responsibility for the Islam of peace. We need to demonstrate how it is expressed in our lives and the lives of those in our community.” (page 103)
  • Being an outsider is humbling. It makes you realize the humanity of all outsiders. It is often the outsider who has the most interesting view of what life is and can become.” (page 110)
  • “If you want to be a true to your Muslim heritage, then you need to explore its history properly.” (page 147). Furthermore, Ghobash pushes us to find a role model in Islam, aside from ‘warrior or jihadist’ role models. Why don’t we make Avicenna or Al-Khawarizmi as our role models, with their achievements in science and medicine?

Honestly, I enjoy this kind of book and I like the way Ghobash writes this book. His writing flows smoothly, especially as he writes this book as a series of personal letters. He asks the readers to think, instead of pushes his arguments. However, I feel like I need other complementary books about Islamic value in our modern life. Please kindly tell me you have any recommendation 🙂