My new book, Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career has been out now for about three months and, though the feedback has been supportive and encouraging, I think it is worthwhile to point out the ways in which this book is different than other books you might have seen.
#1 Thrive is based on scientifically conducted research. I conducted two studies that contribute data to this book. The first utilized interviews with dozens of HSPs from all walks of life. The second study was a big survey with 1,551 respondents. The data from both studies provides an empirical basis for all of the chapters in the book. Some books are written solely from an author’s own viewpoint, which is inherently limited and limiting.
The studies I conducted for Thrive taught me that the issue of career and highly sensitive people is deeply complex with intricate nuances and divergences. What determines suitability for a particular career for one HSP is not reality for the next. We HSPs are complex, creative, resilient individuals, but we each have a unique story, which makes writing any book for HSPs quite difficult because everyone is looking for themselves in the book. By using carefully gathered data and compiling that information into new knowledge we hopefully arrive at a wisdom that is of some value to us all.
#2 Thrive was written by an HSP for whom the issue of career has great meaning. Sometimes books are written by authors who think addressing a particular topic will yield a best-seller. I wrote Thrive because I have been deeply troubled over the issue of career in my life and have wrestled with many of the same issues as you may have. The difference is I have largely moved beyond those issues and taken it upon myself to seek answers for us all because there was no book that was up to date addressing the issues and opportunities of 2015. Thrive hits all of those issues and is state of the art as of 2015. In a few years there may be new opportunities and/or challenges and you can bet I will be observing and thinking about how those all affect us. A second edition will likely be issued in a few years to keep us up to date.
#3 Thrive announces new findings. Though some things have been implied with regard to HSPs, in Thrive I announce several clear new findings.
- 86% of the HSPs in my survey identified as a “creative person.” The link between creativity and HSPs has been implied and assumed in the past, but no real evidence existed until now. This isn’t mind-shattering, but it does provide a general sense that we, as HSPs, think of ourselves as existing within the realm where divergent thinking, tolerance of ambiguity, curiosity/exploring, and openness to new experience are likely prized. This understanding may be a revelation to some HSPs.
- The uniting concept of flow is presented for the first time. Though flow, which is a concept created by psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihaly to describe the state one is in when engaged in a challenging task where time becomes lost and the activity becomes worth doing for its own sake is entered, is not new it is the first time it has been used as a way of uniting all HSPs in what can be an uplifting and energizing experience. We all need flow experiences to keep us growing, confident, and challenged. Even if we are down on our luck and out of work it is still possible to engage our capacities and rebuild our confidence. Flow experiences feed into the part of HSPs that craves creative challenge, tangible results, and a sense of accomplishment often missing in today’s working world.
- Real statistics revealing the most popular careers for HSPs. My survey of 1,551 HSPs is the first of its kind to explore HSPs and career. Through the data gathered we now know the relative distributions of HSPs in careers. Though this does not mean you should simply choose the most popular category because HSPs seem to prefer that it does offer us a view, for the first time, into the choices HSPs make. One might be tempted to assume that HSPs would all prefer a quiet career with minimal interactions, but that notion would be limiting and not representative of the reality that all HSPs are different. We now know that HSPs are represented in every career field! This should help us refrain from the tendency to homogenize HSPs into one limited view.
- Thrive is written from a pragmatic view. Some books are guilty of over romanticizing the potential in career for HSPs. The reality is the work world is ugly, challenging, and demanding with many of us feeling stuck because of financial responsibilities, lack of education, personal difficulties, or fear. Some might say this smacks of drudgery and despair, but I know the reality to be different because I have been there. It’s not fair to overly romanticize the possibilities in a world that is inherently unfair. However, it is useful to explore the potential that exists within every career field for meaningfulness, growth potential, and satisfaction. I have included a broad discussion of trade work that I think some HSPs would be very well advised to consider. In that sense I have offered a complete view of work in all its possibilities and not just glamorized a few select ones that are probably not a reality for many. That’s not to say I am not bullish on the potential of HSPs, indeed, we are the creative class! It is important, though, to be frank about the actual possibilities in 2015.
- The emphasis on self-care. Many books touch on self-care, but what I found through conducting the two studies indicated that we HSPs need to move beyond superficial, token attempts at self-care and begin to embrace it with a spiritual passion. This might seem to place too much emphasis on the individual at first glance, but I assure you it is a holistic conceptualization of self-care that includes our need to socialize and be in the world. If we cannot find it within ourselves to take care of our bodies, minds, and hearts there is no way we can avoid stresses like anxiety, depression, and a host of other maladies that limit who and what we can become. One of the biggest takeaways I want HSPs to remember? That self-compassion is self-care. We need to learn to be gentle and loving with ourselves for when we fail to manage ourselves well and end up exhausted and overstimulated. Thrive opens that conversation with self-care representing such an important topic as to warrant its own book.
- Thrive provides context. Many of the books addressing sensory processing sensitivity have been written from a psychological perspective. This is due to the fact that SPS was developed by a clinical psychologist and further explored by other psychologists. I differ in that I am a trans-disciplinarian and can speak from several disciplines. In Thrive I provide a sociological context within which we HSPs live and work. That context includes gender, social class, and culture, which serve to separate HSPs in many important ways. As awareness of HSPs continues to rise it is important that we are provided, and seek out, accurate information that will increase our awareness of the real complexities that exist in our lives. It will be through individuals who are not beholding to any one discipline that we will be able to cover the actual web of complexity.
#4 Thrive, though different in some respects, provides a solid foundation in the area of career that complements other books, while expanding on the discussion in ways only possible through carefully conducted research. Many times a book is released and that’s the end of it. Perhaps a few are reissued in a few years as second editions with some minor changes. Thrive will be the exception with new editions incorporating the latest thinking on careers for HSPs as time progresses. In fact, I’ve already had a few thoughts for things that were left out of this first edition and that will, no doubt, appeal to some HSPs in ways this book does not.
It is also worth noting that all of my research is privately conducted with no government funding of any kind. By supporting this book, and spreading the word to others, you are making it possible for new editions to be published and future books on topics of real relevance to HSPs to be written. If you would really like to help spread the word about Thrive I invite you to leave a review on Amazon.com.
I welcome and invite all constructive feedback regarding future topics you would like to see addressed or expanded on in future editions.
Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career is available at drtracycooper.com.