“Solitude is pleasant. Loneliness is not.”
People have a need to connect with others on a meaningful level. Though you may be surrounded by people or even in a relationship, it’s still possible to feel lonely. It is imperative that people start forming deep connections with others, for health and wellbeing. In fact, loneliness has been linked to depression, dementia and several other health problems. Yet in a social media immersed society more and more people continue to feel lonely.
Meaningful connections based on ritual have proven to combat loneliness. Now, ritual doesn’t necessarily need to depict religious notions. Ritual simply means following a series of actions or behaviour with intention that arises from a habit. Sometimes connecting with others as a greeting or gesture is not enough to feel less lonely. Moreover, it’s close and personal connections that can detour loneliness.
The three things you need out of connections are to feel seen, heard and valued. Rituals can vary and be any activity that you enjoy doing together, like gathering for dinner. Creating a ritual that incorporates close connections with others can greatly decrease feelings of loneliness.
Loneliness is very unlike solitude. Because introverts find solitude necessary to re-energize they often are the masters at changing their environment to find it. And yet even though extroverts often receive energy from other people, both of them can benefit from solitude. Studies have shown that taking the time to be alone can increase empathy, improve relationships, increase creativity, create more accurate memories and boost strategic thinking.
“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”
Learning meditation is a great way to enjoy solitude. Both meditation and learning how to enjoy being alone require practice. But when you accept yourself in entirety, the freedom and joy in that moment, whether alone or with other people is pure.