During the busy holiday season, finding the joy of alone-time is a gift you can give yourself.
“To have passed through life and never experienced solitude is to have never known oneself,” writes Joseph Krutch in his memoir, The Desert Year. He adds, “To have never known oneself is to have never known anyone.”
Solitude is a gift we can choose to give ourselves. Especially during the bustling holiday season, when celebrations, shopping, cooking and gatherings beckon, the luxury of a moment (or an afternoon, or a weekend) of solitude is to be sought out and treasured.
It’s important to distinguish solitude from loneliness—the latter is a negative experience of isolation, and research shows that one need not literally be alone to feel lonely. Solitude, by contrast, is the intentional activity of spending time in your own presence. The choice to enjoy your own company has myriad benefits, including:
1) Your Attention Is Only Your Own
No one else gets to have your attention when you are alone at home, taking a brisk December walk or even sitting quietly in a cafe with a hot chocolate and a good book. When you can focus all your attention on what you need and want, what is on your mind alone, you will be free to see yourself more clearly.
2) It Encourages a Screen-Free Moment
When you choose to spend some time in solitude, that means you are prepared to step away from email, text messages and social media for a time. Taking even a small break from your attachment to those bottomless activities will refresh you for when you return to them—and give you a moment to notice your own thoughts, feelings and observations in the meantime.
3) You Have Space to Reflect on Your Priorities
“I find that the whole point of solitude is so that you can not only enjoy your own company, but also to review, change and improve who you are as a person,” writes the blogger Kirk Pineda. “If you already have a person in mind who is ideal, why don’t you become that person?” When you are in a self-reflective moment of solitude, you can see yourself with fresh eyes, and you will have the emotional and physical space to consider what areas of growth you can set your sights on going forward.
What do you enjoy about spending time in your own company?