Often we think of solitude in conjunction with loneliness and sometimes it is true. Too much time alone can indeed lead to a feeling of loneliness. But there is beauty in solitude, being alone can be beautiful. Time alone can give you time to refresh and recharge your body and brain. A long bath, time with a good book, time to write in your journal, to make your plans and to daydream are all things that you can benefit from. I have travelled all over the world, generally alone, and while often it would have been lovely to share my experiences with someone else, I learned there are a lot of benefits to doing things alone.
- You can do things on your own timeline. You can take things at your own pace, spend as much time or as little time as you like in a museum, sightseeing, or in any activity.
- You don’t have to pretend you are interested in things you aren’t interested in.
- You can go exactly where you want to go and do what you want to do. There is no need to discuss all the options with another person, or God forbid, several other people.
- You can take time to really observe and absorb the world around you, experience the moments as they occur, stop to watch a street performer for as long as you like without being dragged away before you are ready to go.
- You can meet new people, engage in conversation with people you might not otherwise talk to or meet when you are not within the safe bubble of having someone with you.
- You can write your thoughts or perhaps a bit of poetry, take photographs, listen to music on your IPod, stroll slowly, walk briskly, or run.
I have to admit, I spend more time alone, probably, then most people. The nature of my work and being single contribute to that and there are times when loneliness creeps in and I start wondering if there is something wrong with me. Fortunately, after years of thinking that my love of solitude was a flaw in my nature, I realized that it solitude is a gift and my time alone is precious to me. It is only in solitude that you can really get in touch with your emotions, get to know yourself better and spend time in reflection.
If your life is in turmoil because of work or relationships, alone time provides the opportunity to think things through, to get a new perspective, to calm down, and to resolve issues. When you have time alone, you can stop procrastinating, stop putting off projects and tasks that you would like to or need to get done. You can put your energies into pursuing projects that are dear to you or getting things done you keep putting off. There is no doubt that generally you can be more productive alone. There are fewer distractions. You can explore your creativity. You are not constrained by having to deal with other peoples’ desires or ideas – you can do it your way. Doing things your way when you are alone has the added benefit of making you feel more independent and self-assured when you are with others.
Once you enjoy your time alone you will also enjoy and appreciate your relationships more. In some respects, it is all part and parcel of loving yourself. If you can enjoy your time alone, you automatically become a more interesting person. You can appreciate your relationships for what they are and strengthen your relationships because you have spent time alone. The independence that comes with feeling comfortable alone contributes to a higher sense of self and a higher level of confidence. You don’t require validation from someone else when you are alone nor do you need to apologize for doing what you want to do. You can see, be, and do whatever you want.
I am not saying that being alone all the time is the answer. I am not advocating becoming a monk or a hermit. We all need people in our lives and relationships are something to nurture and be grateful for. But being comfortable with being alone can make your life richer and happier. Once you find the pleasures in being alone, a whole new world will open to you and you will discover new ways of seeing and doing things. When you are alone you can be mindful, be in the moment, in ways you cannot when you are with others. Be grateful for the quiet hours for in the hectic world around us moments of peace are sometimes few and far between. We are bombarded with stimuli, we over commit to things, we get so busy with the hundreds of little things life throws at us that we lose touch with ourselves.
You may not want to go as far as Henry David Thoreau who said, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude”. Instead, you might want to keep in mind what Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
Solitude is a gift. Treasure it and your love for yourself, your life, and others will flourish in unexpected and wonderful ways.