Highly Sensitive Refuge
A highly sensitive person holds flowers

The 12 Best Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Person

I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP), and throughout my life, people have implied — or outright told me — that my sensitivity is a burden. They see it as something that sensitive people need to strive to overcome. And believe me, I know as well as anyone that high sensitivity can be overwhelming and hard at times.

But high sensitivity has many benefits that are often overlooked, and I love being an HSP.

Being an HSP isn’t just a personality trait; it’s the core of who I am. My sensitivity gives me empathy, creativity, and the ability to feel emotions at a deeper level — and I think other HSPs get this, too. Here are the 12 best things (in my opinion) about being a highly sensitive person.

The Best Things About Being Highly Sensitive

1. We feel positive emotions deeply.

Although HSPs tend to get upset more easily than others, our ability to feel deeply goes both ways. This means we feel positive emotions with the same potency as negative ones. When something good or exciting happens, even if it’s small, HSPs feel happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, and gratitude very deeply.

One compliment or nice conversation can make our day, or even our week. And when something really amazing or exciting happens, we can radiate good vibes for months.

2. We embrace all of life’s ups and downs.

When we do encounter difficult life experiences or negative emotions, we don’t shy away from them. Highly sensitive people are able to embrace the ups and down of life in a truly holistic way.

For example, this week I had a breakdown at work. For hours, my whole body shook with sobs. Tears dripped from my eyes and nose, streamed down my cheeks, ran down my neck and hands. I wanted to stop the pain; until then, I never realized how much crying hurts. It hurt my chest. My face. My cheeks. My eyes.

But I saw melancholic beauty in the pain, too: the salty taste of tears on my lips. The powerful ache of despair in my chest. The supportive presence of someone beside me.

In a way, it was transformative.

HSPs find meaning and beauty in life’s obstacles and use this to cultivate our resilience and empathy. We connect to joy and sorrow equally, and want to feel the true, authentic depth of human emotion.

3. We appreciate art and beauty.

HSPs are aesthetes by nature. The definition of an aesthete is a person who is appreciative of and sensitive to art and beauty. I have always been someone who is deeply moved by music, movies, images, art, and the wonders of nature (such as sunsets and sunrises). Beauty and art touch me in a transcendent way. I find beauty in mundane things like the weeds in my garden or a colored streak in someone’s hair.

I think most HSPs feel this, to some extent. We can be stitched together and made whole by song lyrics, art, quotes, moonlight, or the simple smell of coffee.

4. We’re empathetic.

The core to being sensitive is the ability to see the world through another’s eyes. Research conducted by Bianca Acevedo has shown that HSPs have stronger empathy than other people. HSPs don’t just feel compassion, sympathy, and joy for others; we can even feel other people’s feelings as if they were our own. In a way, we truly can step into the thoughts and feelings of others.

Sometimes, I think we HSPs fall into the trap of seeing our empathy as a curse — because it can be painful. But empathy is actually a blessing, for ourselves and others. Empathy is what inspires action, understanding, and connection. Empathy is the ultimate driver for highly sensitive people.

5. We’re reflective and self-aware.

Highly sensitive people will often think about our own thinking. When people describe my personality, they frequently use words like “insightful” and “scarily self-aware.” I believe this is due to my reflective nature as an HSP, which I see as an asset when it comes to decision-making. Highly sensitive people can easily reflect on how something went wrong, which helps prevent us from making a similar mistake in the future. We also take the time to think through how things will play out and can often predict or prevent future problems.

6. We’re detail-oriented.

As HSPs, our brains process stimuli differently, and we process information more thoroughly than others do. That means we pick up on little things that others may not notice — such as a small indication that someone is upset, or that a change is occurring in our environment.

Sometimes the details we notice are only of interest to us. But often, this ability gives us tremendous insight. It allows us to excel in projects that require an eye for detail, and makes us conscientious and competent in our work.

7. We’re insanely creative.

Let me put it simply: sensitivity inspires creativity.

Since HSPs feel emotions deeply, we naturally seek outlets to express ourselves and are often drawn to art, writing, or music. And when we do, we use our ability to make connections that others don’t to create work that feels fresh, unique, and vivid. There’s a reason that so many great creatives throughout history are believed to be highly sensitive people, such as the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette.

8. We’re quick learners and deep thinkers.

HSPs are able to process material intuitively and deeply. In particular, the highly sensitive brain is adept at drawing connections to past experiences and bringing them to bear on new situations or information. This is what psychologists call “semantic memory,” a type of long-term memory that deals with meaning, understanding, and other concept-based knowledge. The result? HSPs are able to integrate and explore new concepts very deeply.

We also tend to pick up new information unconsciously, without being aware of what we’ve learned. This often leads to the experiences of a highly sensitive person “just knowing” the answer or solution to a problem. This “sixth sense” isn’t truly psychic, but it’s powerful.

9. We can be great leaders.

In the workplace, there’s a misconception that HSPs do not make good leaders, because, well, we’re just too sensitive. But the qualities of HSPs are in fact the qualities that make great leaders (at least according to all the leadership articles out on the web). These qualities include high emotional awareness and intelligence, a willingness to listen to our teams, creativity, innovation, problem-solving skills, humility, and the ability to learn from our mistakes.

10. We’re people readers — and lie-detectors.

HSPs are intuitive, especially about social and emotional cues, which means we can read people far easier than most. So don’t bother lying to us — we’ll be able to tell something is off!

Although this is a handy perk (especially when playing poker), I often have to remind myself that sometimes people withhold or lie about information simply because they’re not ready to be open, and that’s okay. I also have to remind myself that being aware and sensing that something is off doesn’t mean I’m necessarily right about why.

11. Many of us have a special connection with animals.

Animals are often drawn to sensitive people, probably because they can sense love and empathy. A lot of HSPs I know live on farms, ride horses, and have beautiful connections with their dogs and cats — even the more unusual species of wildlife.

12. We love deeply.

HSPs love with every fiber of our being. Whether it is a familial, friendly, or romantic relationship, we will love those closest to us passionately and profoundly. The downside to this is we can take loss particularly hard, but we know the love was and always is worth it. If an HSP loves you, you have a truly special gift.

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