Solitude can be invaluable and rewarding.
Moments of solitude – even small ones – when self-imposed, intentional, and fully appreciated, can have profound effects on our productivity and creative thinking.
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One in every two or three people is an introvert – preferring quiet alone time to stimulation and large groups of people.
Stepping away from the routine and rowdiness of our daily lives allows us to connect ideas in new ways, follow creative impulses, and simply think about one thing at a time.
Being alone is uncomfortable at times. But when it comes to creative work and thinking, it’s important to take a long-term view on those moments of discomfort.
Being alone has a kind of a rebound effect. It’s like bitter medicine, creating more positive emotions and less self-reported depression down the line.
Time alone allows us to order our priorities according to what we need, rather than the needs of others.
When you’re able to disengage from the demands of other people, you’ve suddenly freed up the mental space to focus on longer-term, bigger-picture projects and needs.
Sherry Turkle, author of the book Alone Together:
“You end up isolated if you don’t cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don’t have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we’re not able to appreciate who they are. It’s as though we’re using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self.”
Make time once a week and do something inspiring and creative by yourself.
Take a long walk alone, watch a sunrise, go to an unfamiliar church to hear gospel music, visit a museum or neighborhood you haven’t been to, just to experience something new and unfamiliar.
Solitude is a description of a fact: You are on your own. Loneliness is a negative emotional response to it. People think they will be lonely, and that is the problem – the expectation is also now a cultural assumption.
But make the assumption that you’ll be finding the time and space to reconnect with yourself and your ideas, and suddenly the sound of solitude has a delicious ring to it.
The enemy of great work is distraction. The more you are disconnected from the smartphone, the more ‘flow’ mode you can experience.
To practice solitude, try to focus on just one thing, without letting the external distractions disturb you, making it a kind of meditation.
Tesla was the poster child for divergent thinking and refused to settle for generally accepted ideas. He wasn’t afraid to propose concepts that were way ahead of their time. Often, people weren’t ready for his inventions — and he didn’t care.
“Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments,” Tesla once said. “The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.”
Elements to help you reach a state of flow.
To allow this deep work to occur requires you to be vigilant about outside interruptions.