“Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” – Henry Rollins
Spending time alone is usually viewed in a negative light. If we’re lonely, it’s assumed something is amiss in our lives: a lack of friends, a lack of meaningful connections and a lack of sociability. Lack in general.
It’s true that chronic, ongoing loneliness, the sort of loneliness that endures day in day out for the long-term, is not a good thing at all. This kind of negative loneliness can literally kill – it happens to many elderly and isolated people, which is desperately sad.
But that’s not the sort of loneliness I’m talking about.
7 Reasons Why Spending Time Alone is Important
The loneliness I mean is more fleeting; it comes and goes, despite good friends, a loving partner, caring family and busy, full life. It pops up from time to time, often inexplicably, bringing along with it a myriad of emotions.
I think this momentary loneliness is actually good for us and here are 7 reasons why it’s beneficial:
1. Spending time alone strengthens your relationship with yourself
Loneliness can help you look deeper at yourself and ask some probing questions.
Are you happy? Is there a longing in you? What areas of your life need improving? What are your dreams and ambitions?
We’re often too busy or focused on other people to really take time out to ask these questions and nurture our relationship with ourselves.
For example, does your loneliness stem from a genuine need for new friends and a busier social life, or is it the sort of “soul” loneliness that results from a lack of connection with yourself? Do you place a lot of demands on yourself and lack self-compassion?
Only you can answer your questions, and experiencing loneliness now and again can give rise to lots of insightful answers.
2. Feeling lonely makes you more grateful and appreciative
Fleeting loneliness is a great reminder to be more grateful and appreciative towards the people we do have in our lives.
It reminds us of all our blessings and how lucky we actually are.
Gratitude is a great antidote to unhappiness. Saying “thank you” on a regular basis brings more gratitude and contentment into your life, and it greatly improves your relationships and outlook on life in general.
3. Spending time alone pushes you to reach out to others
Loneliness can also prompt us to reach out to other people, either to start new connections, spend quality time with our partner, or to resurrect friendships and relationships we’ve neglected.
But before you start to frantically fill your calendar with social engagements, ask yourself if you need to focus on your “soul” loneliness instead.
4. Feeling lonely can make you appreciate quality time alone
If you can’t bear your own company, that’s worrying. We all need time alone, to think, reconnect with ourselves, have some downtime to relax and simply be. Enjoying your own company is an important part of your wellbeing and self-esteem.
If you resist loneliness because you hate to be alone, you need to start viewing any time spent alone as just as important as time spent with other people.
Alone time helps you refuel. Without time alone, our relationships tend to suffer. A clear sign of needing alone time is feeling lonely in moments when loneliness shouldn’t be the case – during a party or when out with friends.
If you ever feel like that, schedule some nights in – alone.
5. Spending time alone is just another part of being human
Loneliness is not a sign of failure. If it were, we’d all be failures.
It’s just another part of being human, another emotion and experience that make up the rich tapestry of life.
Once we accept this fact, we can use moments of loneliness to benefit our lives.
6. Spending time alone fuels our creativity
Without alone time and feeling lonely, I wouldn’t create anything worthwhile in terms of my writing and artwork.
Transient loneliness makes me reach for my diary or notepad and ponder my feelings and write down ideas. Loneliness, along with other emotions and motivations, drives me to put paint to paper and canvas. If I’d never ever felt lonely, I would never have written any fiction.
The next time you feel lonely, pick up a pen and paper and start writing or drawing, or indulge in whatever is your favorite creative pursuit. You might surprise yourself and create something amazing.
7. Fleeting loneliness can be beautiful
All our emotions come and go. Experiences come and go. Good times come and go, as do bad times.
Loneliness helps us to connect with our vulnerability and our humanity, and it can strengthen our empathy for others. Feeling lonely can produce poignant and beautiful moments that we would otherwise be unaware of.
Loneliness is not something we can, as social beings, always avoid. Certain circumstances cause loneliness and sometimes the feeling just appears out of the blue and we don’t know why.
But transitory loneliness is certainly not something to fear, and it can, if we let it, greatly enrich our lives.