“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
― Henry David Thoreau
NOTE: This is the first of a two-part series on Minimalism and Solitude. Click here to check out part 2.
If there’s a choice between being exposed to cacophonies in massive events and reading a good book at home, I’ll most definitely opt for the latter (I have a high Introversion preference). Being an introvert, solitude is becoming a necessity for me. Not only does it “recharge” myself for the all-time-loud-and-exhausting school hours the following day, but it also helps me focus more on tasks at hand, and getting to know more of myself (questioning myself on important personal matters, stuff like that). Solitude, however, is not confined to introverts. Extroverts need them as well, though not as much as introverts need them. Everyone needs solitude to find rest away from our busy everyday lives and contemplate on life-shaping decisions (such as deciding which university to attend, which is unfortunately pretty complicated).
Now solitude comes in two forms: social solitude and mental solitude. Social solitude is the state of being alone without any forms of social interactions present, while mental solitude is the state of having an uncluttered mind. In terms of difficulty, finding social solitude within our hectic lives is hard, but finding mental solitude seems almost impossible. Even when we are alone, sometimes, our minds are busy processing what happened during the day and what tasks need to be done in the future.
The two forms of solitude may seem daunting to achieve, but the two definitions of minimalism can help find them. We can find mental solitude with the first definition of minimalism and social solitude with the second. In this post, we are going to talk about finding social solitude (and let mental solitude wander away for the mean time, it’s the least of our current concerns).
In further detail, here are some suggestions on how to find social solitude:
Reconsider your commitments. Too often our lives have been consumed by the busyness of everyday demands that we cannot even make time for ourselves. Ask yourself, “Will this task be of worth to me? Does it coincide with my virtues?”
Eliminate all commitments that are not in line with your virtues. Aim to “create” free time by forgoing unnecessary commitments. This, however, does not mean that you should forgo all your commitments. Leave some commitments that you believe is essentially meaningful.
Schedule whatever remains. Typically, the free time you “created” should be at a consistent time of the day, say early mornings or before bed time. Decide when is the best time for your free time, and schedule whatever commitments that remain into other parts of the day.
If you absolutely cannot eliminate and leave behind a free time, add one. Sacrifice a bit of your sleeping time if you have to (not recommended), or find a faster way to commute, or eat your food quickly. Even a few minutes worth of solitude is worth it.
Use your new-found solitude well. Reading, meditating and contemplating are all excellent ways to spend your alone time. Aim for relaxing yet mentally stimulating activities that leads to personal growth and well-being.