I frequently come across articles about “getting out of your head.” They claim that living in your head is limiting and even destructive. The writers want to cure you of this problem because, clearly, it’s ruining your life.
I agree with some of these articles to a point. If you’re living in your head to the exclusion of having a real life and socializing with people, you’ve got a problem. Similarly, you might have a problem if you’re ruminating too much or focusing on negative thoughts.
That said, I think this focus on getting out of your head is clearly an idea cooked up by extroverts who can’t see any other way to live. To them, living in your head must be bad because it makes them intensely uncomfortable. They’d much rather do stuff in the external world. There’s nothing wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with living inside your head. Both are valid ways of being.
As a lifelong, card-carrying introvert, I’m here to tell you that there are quite a few joys to be found when you live inside your head. Enhanced creativity, peace (you aren’t as involved in, or surrounded by, other people’s drama), and a stronger sense of your convictions and direction (because you’re listening to yourself and not others) are just a few.
One that you might not expect is this: Living inside your head makes you less of a consumerist. It lessens your attachment to material things. It might even help you save money! A side benefit is that you don’t get all twisted up about shallow things that don’t matter. Let me explain.
When you’re like me and you spend most of your time reading, writing, thinking, and creating, you aren’t exposed to the advertising and “keeping up with the Jones'” mentality that other people see on a daily basis. Even better, you don’t care. You have no idea what you’re missing and you’re fine with that. Who needs that crap when you have a full life going on inside your mind?
Those of us who live in our heads don’t see (or, if we do see, we don’t process it as important) the lengths people go to to fit in: The crazy shopping, the constant social media posting of their perfect lives, the worry about what other people think, the “need” for bigger and better cars and houses, what clothes and bags are in this season, choosing the “right” decor for a house, etc. All of it just rolls past us in a parade of nuttiness.
As a result, I (and I would assume many others) don’t spend nearly as much money as some people who focus on the external world. When you’re not chasing trends and under the influence of what others are doing, you spend money only on the things you need and really want. You don’t waste it on things you were talked into buying, or what everyone else is buying. You don’t see it, you don’t care about it, and so you don’t buy it.
By extension, us head-living-people don’t focus on the unimportant fluff that clutters so many people’s lives: Celebrity “culture,” media-hyped “stories” about insignificant things, mind-numbing reality TV, Facebook drama, etc. Most of that meaningless mental clutter that people carry around in their brains doesn’t even register with someone who is internally focused.
As a result, I’m a much more peaceful and mentally healthy person when I’m internally focused than when I try to be externally focused. I don’t worry about things I do not have, pop culture references I don’t understand, or drama that’s created just for the sake of drama. I don’t consume in order to be happy, largely because I’m not exposed 24/7 to the barrage of advertising that tells me I am worthless without Product X. (Also note that I don’t take the hits to my self-esteem, either.) I don’t feel frantic or stressed out because I’m not racing around living some idealized, unrealistic, and unaffordable life. Instead, I focus on my work, close relationships, and myself. Those things matter and I try to organically improve them instead of just patching them up with store-bought band-aids.
More than that, I have more time than many of my peers seem to have. Without a lot of TV, running here and there, and useless internet surfing, I get a lot more done in a day. I get my paid work and chores done and still have time to work on hobbies and projects that are important to me. Cutting out the useless external crap frees up time for more important things.
Living in my head doesn’t mean that I never get out or socialize, although I keep it to a minimum simply because I only enjoy it in limited doses. That’s just part of being an introvert. I do have friends and an outer life, I just find it more fulfilling to live a more inner-focused life. I prefer the time I spend thinking, working with words, playing board games, and stretching my mind over chasing some unattainable ideal dictated to me by outside forces. The richer experience is found inside my mind, not in the consumer-oriented outside world.
(Photos courtesy of CreativeMagic, Hadania, and Mysticsartdesign)