The Joy of Solitude
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By setting aside dependent emotions and constraining compromises, we free ourselves up for problem solving, creativity, and spirituality.
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“Loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed but simply that one is alive.”
One way people have always dealt with loneliness is through creativity. By metamorphosing their reality into art, lonely people throughout history have managed to interchange the sense of community relationships could foster with their creative outputs.
The artist Edward Hopper (1882–1967) is known for his paintings of American cityscapes inhabited by closed-off figures who seem to embody a vision of modern loneliness.
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The current pandemic has us facing one of our biggest fears: staying alone, dealing with our own emotions and thoughts. However, this situation has also a great deal of advantages. While in self-isolation, we can use this time to improve ourselves by discovering new hobbies or just developing skills we have already gathered, cultivating our mind through reading. In fewer words, we finally have the time to learn how to deal with ourselves. And this is always a good thing.
As difficult as it may seem, self-isolation has its benefits. When spending your time alone, the key to handle this situation is to find a purpose in your suffering. In other words, focus on why your suffering is doing good to others as well as to yourself. Furthermore, the fact that you stick to a certain routine or that
everybody is doing the same thing provides you not only with a meaning, but also with a sense of belonging.
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We crave intimacy. And yet, long before the present pandemic, with its forced isolation and social distancing, humans had begun building their own separate cells.
Before modern times...
It is an umbrella term we use to cover for all sorts of things most people would rather not name and have no idea how to fix.
Plenty of people like to be alone. But solitude and seclusion are different from loneliness. Loneliness is a state of profound distress.
Primates need to belong to an intimate social group in order to survive; this is especially true for humans.
Separation from your group (either finding yourself alone or finding yourself among a group of people who do not know and understand you) triggers a fight-or-flight response.
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Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, if you feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind....
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:
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It isn’t defined by the number of people in your life; instead, it’s the distance between what you want out of your relationships and what you’re getting.
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Have quick, non-threatening conversations throughout the day: make small talk with your barista, the cashier at the grocery store, anyone you encounter who seems receptive.
Think of them as stretching a muscle: not the same as a full workout, but beneficial nonetheless. When you’re lonely, you go inward, and just stretching that little bit can kick-start a process that helps you feel better.
Do something you find totally engaging, to the point you lose track of time.
That activity doesn’t have to be mentally engaging or intellectually rigorous. Maybe it’s reading, running, or cleaning. If you’re truly immersed in what you’re doing, no matter what it is, you won’t have the mental space to be consumed by loneliness.
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Major changes can create a sense of loneliness, even if they're positive. You might be leaving a job or starting a new job, ending a relationship or embarking on a new relationship, getting married, getting divorced, [or] starting a family.
When struggling with the adjustment period, it can help to acknowledge the feeling and also acknowledge that it's likely temporary.
There's very specific loneliness that can creep in when you're responsible for the care of another person — be it an elderly parent, a sick sibling, a disabled partner, etc.
So even though it's a big job, it's important to not forget about yourself. Find a supportive friend to talk to without judgment, or attend a support group.
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We tend to see solitude as grim and imprisoning. But in fact, the exact opposite can be true. Solitude can be seen as freeing, as an opportunity for exploration and growth.
It’s always better to learn to stand on your own two legs. And once you are self-sufficient, then relying on someone else from time to time is an act of strength, not weakness.
Take small, consistent steps in the right direction, day in and day out.
Learning to be comfortable with being alone does not mean you can’t be in a relationship. It means that you will not be codependent and entitled.
What we need is a healthy dose of self-sufficiency. The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development.
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FOMO is the fear of missing out, especially the latest internet hysteria. But FOMO is not the real problem - Reverse FOMO is. By always being online, you are missing out on real life. An overwhelming online presence is replacing all the things that really make a good life.
Tech is only a tool. How you use it can make it good or not so good.
We don't need a lifehack to control our phone. We need values to ensure that technology serves us, and not the other way around.
Find out what you value in life. Then ask how technology supports those values. Set rules that work for them. If you don't, tech will fill that void by default.
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You’re not feeling so great — whether you realize it or not — and you turn to social media to make you feel better. Only one problem there: it actually makes you feel worse…
We all know that Facebook doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. It’s more like the cherry-picked perfection version.
People with FOMO have ambivalent feelings toward Facebook. It brings them up when they post about their own carefully edited version of life awesomeness, and slams them back down when they feel they have to compete with other people's lifestyle awesomeness - especially when they're feeling a little down or anxious themselves.
Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness.
Changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.
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