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5 Life-changing Benefits of Solitude
Many people mistakenly think that being alone is akin to being a loser—as if solitude was a stigma that we should all avoid. But this could not be farther from the truth—there are many benefits of solitude, and these benefits are priceless enough to have the power to change your life for the better. Below you will find just some of the high-impact benefits you’ll gain with every moment of “alone time” you allocate for yourself.
1. Reduced stress
Modern life can be so utterly stressful—everywhere you turn, someone’s honking his car, screaming, singing, playing his digital music player at full volume, even the sidewalk shops compete with one another to get people’s attention through piped out music. Not to mention the various urban noises that assault our senses everyday—the drone of vehicle’s engines, the blare of a multitude of machines that surround us. Of the benefits of solitude, the most important is its power to eliminate stress by removing the stressors. Taking time to be alone for a few moments—maybe in the middle of the park on a sunny day—can immensely help in helping you regain your mental center.
2. Better memory
The results of some studies that were carefully designed to test the effects of solitude on memory retention indicate positive enhancing effects on memory. In Harvard, for example, the results of a study conducted by Bethany Burum showed that when people know that they are the only ones doing certain tasks, they remember things better than those who were told they were merely duplicating the tasks of others. In fact, most geniuses and renowned musical prodigies, artists and writers valued their solitude almost to a fault—solitude allowed them to focus and regard their craft so seriously as if they were the only ones in the world who are having at it.
3. Improved self-esteem and self-confidence
When you accomplish something on your own, alone, the effect of this achievement on your self-confidence can be astounding. In fact, many learning modules in the educational sector have been designed to integrate the element of solitude precisely to cause one of the most important benefits of solitude: the positive life-changing effect on one’s self-esteem. For example, Boy Scouts are given the opportunity to go out alone and test the skills they have learned in the real world—and by real world, we mean, the woods or wherever boy scouts camp out. And if you ask any boy scout, they will tell you that the best moment of their lives—in fact, the defining moment—was when they were alone out there, trying to survive by wit and skill.
4. A deeper sense of empathy
Another Harvard study found out that those who are always in the thick of social events usually find it difficult to experience empathy for others, whereas those who have somehow gained some level of solitude are able to “feel” for the plight of others. As one of the benefits of solitude, empathy (which is deeper than merely sympathy) is the ability to vicariously feel, in a real sense, the experiences and aspirations of others, allowing them to relate with others on a deep level of sincerity and affection. Have you ever wondered why those famous spiritual leaders—from Jesus to Buddha to Gandhi—always took some time alone and mulled things over? They are able to feel and express empathy because they regularly take a step back to look at mankind from their perspective.
5. Self-healing through meditation
Of course, meditation is possible only in a quiet, peaceful environment, and such an environment can be achieved only in solitude. Meditating while you are in solitude is like shooting many birds with one stone: you gain all the previous benefits, while you are also able to experience self-healing—the results of studies have shown that regular meditation boosts the body’s levels of “anti-stress hormones” like dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, GABa and DHEA, and thereby enhances the body’s immunity to diseases and capacity to heal.