Yay Eccentrics!


I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about healthy lifestyles. They usually mention the importance of having a lot of social interactions. In fact, that works for some people but not for everyone. The emphasis on being social no doubt reflects our society’s pro-extrovert bias.

I remember an article years ago about the health benefits of being an eccentric, being centered enough to follow one’s own path without worrying about social pressure to fit in, to act like others. It reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s quote:

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer is to have kept your soul alive.

And it reminds me of e e cummings:

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

For some people being social is who they really are so it works for them. But that’s not the only way to a rich, fulfilled life.

So what are the characteristics of healthy eccentrics?

  • Nonconforming attitude
  • Idealistic
  • Intense curiosity
  • Happy obsession with a hobby or hobbies
  • Knew very early in his or her childhood they were different from others
  • Unusual living or eating habits
  • Strong values
  • Sense of humor

Do you know any eccentrics? Do you have any eccentric in you?

Thanks to Evan, tammy, Cathy, bikehikebabe and Rummuser for commenting on last week’s post.
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12 Responses to Yay Eccentrics!

  1. tammy j says:

    what a wonderful post monk!
    you have quoted from two of my favorite people.
    and yes. i’ve always been ‘accused’ of being an eccentric.
    i used the word accused on purpose.
    so very often you’re looked at askance or as if you ‘just don’t get it.’ teachers ~ the unenlightened kind ~ never know what to do with you! LOL. i learned to hide it as a child. because it was simply easier. but when i escaped from the shackles of traditional education ~ i began to breathe and feel free to be me. so much happier. so much better. i say to all inner eccentrics ~ “come on in! the water’s fine!” my comments are too long. sorry. 😉
    tammy j´s last blog post ..simplicity

  2. Evan says:

    I think I’m eccentric in that I just don’t buy the mainstream and it’s values. (Something that is more or less rapidly extinguishing a good deal of life of earth must have some problems I think.)

    On the other hand my interests are entirely mainstream – books, self development (what could be more middle class?) and so on.

    So I guess sort of half eccentric.
    Evan´s last blog post ..Three Ways to Handle Complexity and Make Change Easier

  3. Mike says:

    I see a lot of familiar characteristics in that list.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Back to retirement… again.

  4. bikehikebabe says:

    I was getting my driver’s license renewed when 2 of the 3 workers went to their 1 hr. lunches with a room full of people waiting. I didn’t wait. I (walked) paced the floor like a caged lion & got 1 1/2 hrs. of exercise. Watched the TV while walking. Maybe eccentric, but for me it was smart since I’d have done the walking at home later

  5. Jean says:

    Your comments are not too long! They are greatly appreciated. When I talked to my daughter tonight she said to make sure I told you that. She brought up the subject.

    I did think of you while writing this post. Isn’t it great to be free?

    It seems to my your emphasis about authenticity is similar to the idea behind this post—find out who you are and the life you’re designed to lead.

    It’s a fun way of being, isn’t it?

    I don’t like to sit so I tend to pace when I have to wait. Assuming I don’t have to stand in line to keep my place. Then I try to bring along something to read or work on.

  6. Evan says:

    Yes, I do think eccentrics can be authentic. Though it isn’t required. Eccentrics just need to be different. The judgement is about lifestyle of attitude I think.
    Evan´s last blog post ..Three Ways to Handle Complexity and Make Change Easier

  7. Jean says:

    The people I’m talking about (surprise, surprise) are living their values, doing the things they care about. The only reason they stand out is because they’re interested in different things from other people. Yes, it is a specialized kind of eccentric.

  8. Evan says:

    They’re the kind I like.
    Evan´s last blog post ..Three Ways to Handle Complexity and Make Change Easier

  9. Cathy in NZ says:

    I would fit some of those characteristics but I wouldn’t go out of my way to push them in front of the real/fast paced world unless I thought it could cope.

    I don’t look out of place much either although lately my clothing attire has changed – and some are a little shocked.

    What has shocked those who know exactly what I’m studying now, is the sheer fact it seems to be out of my comfort zone – or maybe it’s out of theirs!

    But at home, home alone, I can be anyone I want 🙂
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..BIRD project

  10. Jean says:

    As tammy points out, we don’t have to be flamboyant about it — being inner eccentrics works just fine. 🙂

  11. Rummuser says:

    By your definition, I most certainly am and almost all my friends and family members are too! A whole bunch of odd balls!
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Doppelgänger.

  12. Jean says:

    Why am I not surprised? 😀

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