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The Art of Being Alone

“They are opposite states... Solitude is usually actively sought after and is a personal choice that comes from an inner yearning. Isolation is usually actively avoided and is forced from the outside. Solitude allows for expansion and freedom of thought, providing the chance to soar above the ordinary in order to come back to the world refreshed and reinvigorated. Isolation contracts the walls and makes a prison, draining the will and leaving you exhausted.” Source 

Solitude is a choice. Isolation, while it can be a choice, is most frequently associated with loneliness (“sadness because one has no friends or companions”). Great thinkers choose to be alone, in order to work. Artists of every genre, similarly, tend to hone their craft alone. Alternatively, when people are alone without anything to do, per se, or any companionship; depression and melancholy can easily result. So, it is important—when you feel lonely—to make the choice as to whether you are isolated and if you can turn the time into solitude instead. 

Let’s break them down even further: 

Solitude: 
  • Time spent alone by choice (a nap, time getting things accomplished, etc) 
  • Productive (work, hobbies, interpersonal growth…) 
  • Lacks loneliness 
  • Requires alone-ness 
  • Is healthy 
Isolation: 
  • Often not a choice
  • May spend time ruminating (going over one thing in your mind---especially a bad thing---over and over)
  • Experience loneliness, a wish to be with others.
  • Minimally or entirely unproductive
  • Marked by boredom

I spend about 60% of my time alone reading and writing. Some of this time could be defined as solitude, some as isolation. I research these blog topics for 3-5 hours a month: looking up a topic (which I always think is novel until I google it!), reading the research or other writings, and another few hours developing the blog. I also spend several hours a week looking for work right now. However, sometimes I get tired or bored by research and job hunting (where solitude meets isolation) and I have to reach out to my daughter, by phone, or one of my roommates to simply provide some companionship. I have found the following to help me transition from isolation to solitude:

To Move Toward Productive Time Alone:
  • Engage in a hobby (right now I’m stuck on grown-up coloring books, reading, writing and crafting)
  • Read a novel or self-help book: The internet is an awesome source for discovering more. IBPF.org is a great start!
  • Write letters, songs, poetry or your autobiography
  • Take a walk/hike, collect leaves, be in the moment with nature
  • Notice the texture of life (carpet loops, leaves falling, the intricacies of a bird’s nest)
  • Exercise/work out/lift weights
  • Cook something new, the internet is replete with recipes: www.allrecipes.com www.foodnetwork.com/recipes.html www.recipe.com www.food.com/topic/low-fat
  • Go to a Meet Up (meetup.com)
  • Watch/go to a movie
  • Draw/color
  • Volunteer to help others struggling or in need
  • Do research on upcoming election candidates
  • Play video games
  • Learn to crochet/cross stich/latch hook
  • Iron clothes
  • Listen to inspirational music
  • Meditate
  • Make a piñata
  • Make a list of things you want or need to accomplish
  • Catch up on your correspondence (the art of snail mail)

The possibilities are endless! Being alone doesn’t have to be a reason to let depression creep in, look at it as an opportunity.

Read the rest of Liz's posts here

Comments

I read somewhere that the fasted cure for depression is to learn how to do something. Right now I'm trying to learn how to edit video in a program on my PC. It's challenging.We need a teacher because we've watched fifty tutorials and none of them seem to line up with our program. But you know what? I learned jewelry about ten years ago and it really helped me when I had Tardive Dyskinesia. The designing and purposeful movements made me feel like I had a purpose. What a cool post.

Fantastic blog! I will be following you now and I shared this post on Facebook

I hate being alone. I rarely choose to be alone. But I work mostly nights and most of my real friends work days. I can't do a day job I've tried I'm always late. I can't follow the corporate structure of most day jobs.
Therefore I am alone a lot and not by choice. I find myself very lonley very often. Although you suggest great activities I would still be doing them alone.

After reading this I realize that the majority of my time is spent in isolation. It's even worse that it's winter and I don't even want to go outside because I'm always cold as it is. I spend most of my time at home either on my computer or watching tv.

I go through 'bursts' where I might be interested in drawing or woodburning, but like right now, if I try doing any art I just feel too antsy and like I'm wasting time (I know, it's dumb because being on the computer is wasting time and getting NOTHING done...).

I was hoping I could find out who the artist of this picture is? I'd like to blow it up & put it on my wall. Does anyone know?

Hi Jenna, I'm sorry that we do not know who the artist is. But here is a higher resolution version of the image we found online: img.gutbilder.com/images200/background-images-65413-wallpapers.jpg 

I find after being out of the work force for 6 months I'm rather amusing to myself and getting to know my self has been great. Of course is the fact that in Bi Polar manic number one great. Heck yes. Latuda makes being alone a lot better. I'm guessing for myself life looks different but I'll sure take this over what it was. I talk to myself but I listen well. Thanks All

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