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The psychological benefits of third places

Photograph - by rinatus (rinatus) on 500px

– by rinatus (rinatus) on 500px

Today I’m thinking about extraversion and third places within cities.

As many of you I’m sure know, the idea of a third place is that after your home (first place) and your work (second place), cities have what are known as third places. This could be a coffee shop, a barber shop, or a public space (to name only a few examples).

This, of course, is not a new idea. For decades people have been arguing that third places are essential for establishing a sense of community, place, and belonging. In fact, this emphasis on third place is one of the ingredients that made Starbucks so successful.

But with the rise of the internet and freelancing, third places are becoming even more important. That’s why coffee shops have become arguably the best example of a third place in today’s cities. They’ve even become the new second place for some (many?) people.

But beyond just a place to meet and socialize, I’ve been thinking today (while I was at a third place) about the psychological benefits of these spaces.

For example:

One of the key differences between extraverts and introverts is where they draw their energy from. For introverts, they tend to draw it from within. In order to recharge, they often feel the need to retreat and be left alone. Extroverts, on the other hand, draw their energy from the outside world. They charge up by being around other people.

When I was completing my MBA at Rotman, one of the things they had us do at the beginning and at the end of the program was complete the Myers-Brigg personality test

In both instances, I was as extroverted as they come (I am consistently what is known as an ENTJ). And from experience, I can say that I definitely feed off the energy of other people.

But the interesting thing about this – to tie both of these topics back together – is that there appears to be a clear correlation between extroversion and a preference for living in urban centers. And given what I just said, that probably makes sense to you.

So if you too classify yourself as an extroverted person, then third places are more than just a busy coffee shop or a vibrant public space. They are where you derive your energy and where you feel alive. And that’s a pretty powerful thing in my view.

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