Is not a bad thing and can even be good for us, according to an emerging body of research. Even the most socially motivated people need to regularly take time for themselves if they want to have well-developed personalities and replenish their capacity for focus and creative thinking. One Harvard study “indicates that people form more lasting and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone.”
With some 31 million Americans living alone – about one-quarter of all U.S. households – and many more tethered to their cellphones and computers, where they are no more than a text message or email away from other people, the potential benefits of true solitude are becoming more apparent. Solitude has been linked with creativity, spirituality and intellectual prowess. By being alone, “we are better able to engage in what’s called meta-cognition, or the process of thinking critically and reflectively about own thoughts.”
It is getting the balance right that matters. Solitude is not isolation or solipsism, but the cultivation of the inner self that fortifies and extends the outer self within a rich web of socially meaningful relationships. Be alone occasionally. It’s healthy.