Enjoy your Alone time, solitude or time spent away from others is my topic today. I was joking in class last weekend about how I love spending time by myself and that I’d enjoy my work so much more if it involved less people. It was a joke and I talk often about the importance of social interaction in our lives, yet I do want to celebrate solitude and time spent alone today….
Some people think of “being alone” or “solitude” as a bad thing. It either means you’re anti-social, or unwanted, neither of which are a good position to be in. Many are also afraid of being alone for any period of time and rarely spend any time in solitude. I’ve written about the importance and value of “me time” before, here: Solitude – The Importance of ‘Me Time’ and How It’ll Make You More Successful.
Actually, solitude is highly underrated. We rarely sit in a peaceful corner, talking to our inner self, and try to sort the problems of the outside world. Being alone is really healing: We get to sort out things honestly, we don’t have to fake our thoughts, and most importantly, we understand ourselves. Even research shows that chosen solitude contributes to personal growth and self-acceptance. According to Margarita Azmitia, a professor of psychology at UC Santa Cruz and coauthor of a recent paper in the Journal of Adolescence. “Sometimes, solitude is good. Developmentally, learning to be alone is a skill, and it can be refreshing and restorative.”
There are a handful of benefits that emerge once you learn to embrace solitude and use it effectively…
Being suddenly thrust into a position of confinement, away from friends and family for the first time ever, is one of the hardest things to do. But as you begin to adjust and become one with your thoughts, you start gaining clarity about yourself and your surroundings. Sitting quietly and thinking through complex issues can often lead us to discover things that really are not as terrible as they feel. It’s in solitude that we de-clutter psychologically and emotionally – it is cleansing.
Here are a couple of very useful articles to delve into that topic deeper:
– 9 Ways to Have an Emotional Spring Clean.
We need time to imagine and create a vision for the future. Research by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi author of Flow found that exceptional creators are more likely to be introverted. According to Ester Buchholz, a psychologist and psychoanalyst and the author of The Call of Solitude, solitude is an important and normal part of human existence.
Here are a couple of articles that you’ll love, on that topic too:
– Creativity: 8 Brilliant Ways to Increase Yours.
Most of us are primarily focused on the short term. But, spending time alone, allow us to see a different perspective. It allows us to consider the bigger picture, to assess progress and to establish a new direction. Not just that, it helps puts things in perspective as a natural bi-product.
Spending time alone is actually a very important part of emotional wellbeing. Our daily life is full of stressful activities. We often get angry, frustrated and impatient. Acting impulsively (or acting upon them at all!) on those emotions is sometimes bad for us. Solitude can be used to sort out those emotions in private and respond properly. It enables us to restore balance.
We often make tough decisions that affect other people’s lives in a significant way. Solitude can be used to find the courage to face these difficult challenges. In the early days of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used time alone in prayer and quiet contemplation, to determine if he would lead this important crusade. It was during this time that his inner voice told him to, “Stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth.”
“We need society, and we need solitude, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest.” – Phillip G. Hamerton.
In addition to having more creative ideas as already discussed, I find myself feeling healthily emboldened to take action on issues I face within my professional field often during times I spend alone (such as running, or when meditating, for example).
So, How Do You Enjoy Being Alone?
First of all, to be happy you have to understand that you don’t need anyone to be the factor of your happiness. Happiness is a state of mind, and it can exist when you are on your own. It does not need to be dependent on the company of others, of course not.
Being alone means being enough for yourself. It is a feeling of independence, and the joys of this are all yours. Actually, you learn a lot from being alone. You can’t always have company. There must be important points, both high and low, that you must have faced on your own. So, from this, we get to learn this (sometimes harsh) fact that you are all alone in your life. Sure, you would have many important people too, but you can’t become wholly dependent on them. You have to find solace and calm in your own self.
I’ve written about this life truth before, here, have a read: How to Accept and Depend Upon Yourself – Because “No-One Is Coming!”.
Being alone doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do, and you are bored and sad. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to explore so many things about yourself. These things can bring you happiness in a variety of ways…..
Learn About Yourself:
“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” – Aldous Huxley.
Learn about your interests and hobbies. So, you wanted to learn to play a guitar, well now is the time to enroll in guitar lessons. Learn to dance, sing aloud to your favourite music, read all the books that you could not. It is a time to do everything for yourself. You will surely find that happiness-inducing.
Let Your Passions Run Free:
When you’re in a committed relationship or constantly around a lot of people, you may notice that your list of “passions” starts to conform to what those around you enjoy. This is natural as you compromise and develop relationships and it is often important to do so. However, when spending time alone, you get to indulge in the things that are close to your heart!
Do things for yourself, all the things that you couldn’t do when you were surrounded by people. Like, go catch that specific type of film that you love, eat that type of food that you have a penchant for, binge watch a TV series, geek out on books and research about a topic you have love for. This is the time to do things you love; the way you love to do them. This will surely be a pleasant thing to do.
“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.” – Jeanne Moreau.
Learn to go solo and own it like a king. Go for solo trips and treks, explore new places and things. Try all the things you want to try, all the adventure sports, and activities like theatre, jazz, ballet, archaeology etc. Being alone is never a boredom, it is your passage to your soul, with many interesting turns and twists.
Write A Letter:
“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
The experience of putting pen to paper to write a letter to someone you care about can be fun and soothing. Consider writing a letter to yourself. Imagine who you will be in five or 10 years, and think about what you would want to say to the future you.
Develop A Relationship With Yourself:
“When you acknowledge the integrity of solitude, and settle into its mystery, your relationships with others take on a new warmth, adventure and wonder.” – John O’Donahue.
It’s a mistake to think that you can only have a meaningful relationship with another person. To strengthen your relationship with yourself, make an effort to get to know yourself better. Ask yourself: What do I really value in life? What do I need more of? What do I need to be done with? What’s next for me?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start providing yourself with the emotional support and encouragement needed to pursue your newly-identified goals
Learn To Love And Accept Yourself:
is the foundation upon which happiness depends, especially when we’re alone. It
is a state of true appreciation for yourself and for who you are. It is the deep
acceptance of your own being that makes you treat yourself kindly. Not only
will it fuel your growth as a person, but it will also help you to develop a
deep connection to yourself. It will aid you in realizing how great a deal of
your happiness lies in your own hands. Once you start to understand that
ultimately, others will not be able to make you truly happy, you will develop
an understanding on how you can be perfectly happy alone. Here are a couple of
articles to really help with this:
“Being solitary is being alone well: luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others.” – Alice Koller.
When we are alone, we are bound to make keener observations of our surroundings. We are also more likely to recognise the value of what is around us, from birds flying in the skies above us, the smell of rain on the pavement and leaves falling from the trees in Autumn, for example. When we aren’t so preoccupied with worldly matters (social media, politics, gossip, etc), our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is around us. Things that may previously have been annoyances can be transformed into reminders to have a grateful heart.
Become Your Best Friend And Counselor:
It’s a natural tendency to seek for other people’s help when we are struggling in life. But in most cases, we only complain about our problems, instead of questioning what the cause of these problems is and what we can do about them.
If you want to learn how you can survive extended periods of time spent alone, it’s of the highest importance to learn to be your own counselor. None of your friends can understand your situation in its entirety, only you can. Consequently, by becoming your own advisor you’ll be able to figure out what is causing your problems, instead of turning to others solely to complain about your situation. It will not only help you to explore your problems, but it will also encourage you to find solutions to your individual problems on your own.
Once you start analysing your situation carefully, you’ll be able to see everything that happens to you from a more objective and rational perspective. You will notice the closer you look at your situation; the more solutions start to emerge.
But why should you not only become your own counselor, but also your best friend? Well, most people assume that a best friend absolutely needs to be another person. It’s not always easy, but learning to accept, understand, appreciate and love yourself is a very good place to be.
Above all, remember that solitude doesn’t translate into being antisocial or lonely:
“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone; solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich.
Our society today has made being alone seem like we are turning into a hermit, subject to pity, and other ignorant assumptions. Ironically, the people who need to be constantly surrounded by other people are sometimes dependent on other human beings for happiness and confidence. This is not to say that spending time with others is a bad thing, just that it shouldn’t dominate our own thoughts to the extent that we lose ourselves. Finding the happy balance between the two is the key.
“We need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara de Angelis.
That final quote is such a good one and means so much to me. Once you feel the peace of being alone, there will be contentment, a contentment much more alive than outer happiness. And in that contentment, you will enjoy life. You will not be so dependent on others to be happy. You can enjoy others more because you are not dependent on them to be happy.
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