The joys of being highly sensitive

When I’ve written about sensitivity in this blog, a lot of it has been about the shame, the struggles and the disadvantages of being highly sensitive in everyday life. 

And I guess that’s inevitable. After all, most of us HSPs find out about our trait through seeking solutions to our pains and frustrations, not by reflecting over how intensely we experience a thunderstorm or a piece of chocolate. 

For many of us, the most tangible parts of being highly sensitive are the negative ones: Feeling overwhelmed by the tragedies of the world, struggling to fit in and keep up at work or in school, or avoiding painful situations. 

But what about the upsides to being HSP. Are there any real ones? And are we really taking advantage of them? 

I can honestly say that, despite the hardships and pain I occasionally experience as a direct result of being highly sensitive, I would not trade away my sensitivity for anything. 
I am proud of it and I deeply cherish it.

So I thought I’d share some of my own favorite strengths, gifts and simple pleasures related to being highly sensitive. 

Of course, none of them are exclusive to highly sensitive people, they can be experienced by anyone. But a lot of people take them for granted. They rush past them or even try to repress them out of insecurity. 

As a HSP, I choose to pay extra attention to these simple joys, and to consciously deepen my experience of them. You can too, whether you’re sensitive or not. =)

My top 10 joys of being highly sensitive

1. How deeply immersed I get in books, movies and tv shows.

“It’s just a story.” How many times have you heard this from an adult as a child? I have to constantly remind myself of that to this day, because I get so completely consumed by a story and its characters, I almost lose myself. And I linger in it, sometimes for months afterwards. Even though it’s often painful to leave it behind, I love being able to travel so powerfully into other worlds. It feels like a superpower. 

2. How intensely I experience music. 

Even gotten high from listening to a piece of music? When all the hairs on your arms stand up, you get chills up and down your body, your eyes tear up and you get this rush of ecstatic energy? I experience this often, especially with music from a movie, tv show or video game that I have a strong connection with. The experience can be so strong that I’ll listen to the same song for hours and hours and never get enough. 

3. How smelling nice things is like a drug to me.

Sometimes I’ll pause whatever I’m doing to go on a smelling spree around the house. Starting with the cleaning cabinet and its laundry detergent and fabric softeners, I’ll move on to the bathroom and sniff the bath salts and shampoos, and then finishing off in the kitchen with its washing-up liquid, spices, coffee and teas. I don’t know what I’d do without my sense of smell. Thankfully, I don’t get colds very often. 

4. My adoration of birds.

“Favorite animal” doesn’t even come close to describing my relationship with birds. I adore animals in general - I’m a vegan and support many animal rights organizations. But I have a special kind of love for birds that I almost can’t put into words.

Whenever I see them, I’m filled with appreciation and joy. Sometimes my eyes tear up involuntarily and tons of feel-good-hormones are released in my body. So as you can imagine, this gives me frequent opportunities for joy in my everyday life. I can just look out the window. 🐦

5. My empathy for other people.

For a long time, I didn’t consider myself a people person at all. In fact, I often felt I hated humanity. And I still get a bit misanthropic when I’m forced into a crowded environment or read too much news. But as I wrote in my post A Love Letter To Solitude, the more true I can be to my introverted and sensitive nature, the more love and empathy I feel towards other people.

I enjoy watching reality shows on tv for this reason: not to wallow in juicy scandals but to experience as many types of people as possible, try to understand their behavior and see their raw and honest emotions. It is when focusing on one person at a time and really seeing them that I become a people person and a lover of humanity.

6. How grateful I am for the tiniest of things.

It is often said that gratitude is one the most powerful positive emotions. That’s why I’m extra grateful (heh heh) to be so easily grateful for things big and small. Saying thanks and feeling appreciative comes naturally to me. 

I feel truly blessed in all parts of my life, and I still can’t get over the fact that I can go to the library, pick out any book that interest me and just bring them home with me. For free. How amazing is that? 

The best part: the more grateful you are, the more things you’ll find to be grateful for. Lifehack tip, right there.

7. How easily entertained I am.

There are many upsides to being low-maintenance. I don’t need to travel much, which benefits my wallet as well as the environment. I don’t need to seek adrenaline rushes, which (to my mother’s delight) has kept me out of harm’s way most of my life. And I never need to stress out about what to do this Saturday, or this summer, or this New Year.

As I wrote in this other post: I’m boring and proud. Give me a stack of books or a crossword puzzle and I’ll be all set. 😎

8. My ability to understand and make peace with others.

Drama, gossip, trash talking and heated arguments have never been my thing. It’s important to be honest and speak our minds, but I pick my battles and do my best to avoid unnecessary confrontation, often to the price of keeping my opinions to myself. If I have something important to say, I’ll find a more peaceful way to say it, preferably without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Some call it conflict avoidance or cowardliness. But I take pride in trying to see conflicts from many angles, being diplomatic and getting along with people even I don’t agree with them. I enjoy being a peacekeeper and spreading love instead of spite.

9. My willingness to experience the full spectrum of emotions.

I believe there’s something exhilarating about riding the emotional rollercoaster of life. I can find comfort in my melancholia, strength in my anger, and bliss in my contentment. 
It’s the feeling of being fully alive and human. You can’t have the highs without the lows.

I might not be able to “enjoy” all of my emotional states while in the midst of them, but I don’t back away from them and I take comfort in knowing that nothing lasts and everything changes. Life flows, and I with it. I don't want to miss a thing.
10. My ability to enjoy my own company.

I have been able to entertain myself from a very young age. Sitting alone in my room for hours was never a problem, nor playing the piano or drawing all day long. I would never get bored and would always find something to keep me occupied. 

I still get that rush of excitement whenever I’m by myself. Total freedom, endless possibilities and nothing to disturb me. 

As I’m sure a lot of other introverts can agree on: we’re our own best company. 😉