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Solace In Solitude Essay

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Robert Fulghum, the American author, declared “Solitude is not the same as loneliness. Solitude is a solitary boat floating in a sea of possible companions”. What Fulghum says here encapsulates aloneness’s true meaning, and what distinguishes it from the negative feeling of being alone. Solitude is being content with being alone; loneliness is when you’re alone but long for others companionship. People conflate these terms, leading to solitude being viewed with incredible negativity. This undermines the understanding of the benefits that come with it and suppresses the appreciation that enjoying being alone is naturally ingrained in us all.

So now that I have you alone, dear marker, I hope to persuade you of the joys of solitude.

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Research has found that spending more time alone proves to develop a better ability to focus on work, particularly with students. It’s a popular assumption that group work is the recipe for producing excellent results. Conversely a study from the Emory University found that “people who disagree with group wisdom show heightened activation in the amygdala, an organ in the brain associated with social rejection”, illustrating that working unhappily with others can actually suffocate children’s confidence.

Reed W. Larson also conducted research, where he observed that young people report feeling less unsure when they’re alone; a result that suggests that when solitary, the emotions felt are beneficial to productivity. This proves that when we’re alone, we’re freed from society’s pressures, which is especially true in the case of schoolchildren who are then freed from the repression that comes with making mistakes. So, by being solitary we increase our ability to work effectively, as being alone improves work rate, thus demonstrating how being alone brings advantages after all.

In addition to producing better work, solitude creates a more effective memory. A study was conducted which proved that when you either are, or believe yourself to be, alone, you develop a better memory. The study, led by student Bethany Burum, started with a simple test: Burum asked two strangers to sit in a room, each facing a screen the other couldn’t see. In some cases, they were told they’d both be doing the same task, in others, the opposite. The screen flicked through multiple simple images. A few days later, the participants were asked to recollect which images they’d been shown. It was observed that the participants remembered more when they thought they were the only ones doing the task. This showcases an advantage of solitude as having a strong recall, I’m sure you’d agree, is an important quality in many features of everyday life. So, when you find yourself suffering from forgetfulness, maybe take some time alone.

Along with a better memory, alone time also replenishes you. A study undertaken by Durham University launched an investigation into how people relax. They surveyed people in 134 countries, to understand which activities people considered relaxing. Despite many people believing solitude to be detrimental, the third most popular activity, with over 50% of people supporting it was… those which meant spending time alone. Surprisingly, this outweighs the 20% who said being with friends and family was more calming. These figures show the therapeutic effect on our mental well-being as a result of solitude, compared to being with others. Essentially, being alone is actually more cathartic than being with company, and we need to acknowledge its benefits, rather than treat it as a sign of awkwardness and anti-sociality.

Not everyone views optional solitude as healing, however, and many are sceptical and doubting about the effect of aloneness. This results in people not realising that seclusion is also an instinct that’s proven to make you happier. ‘Man’s aptitude for seclusion is down to evolution’ says a study by psychologists Norman Li and Satoshi Kanazawa. They analysed a survey of 15,000 people in America about the correlation between an area’s population and the people’s happiness living there. The result? Those living in smaller communities were happier than those in larger districts. This is due to our species evolving from a period when humans survived in isolation, therefore proving that we contain an ingrained inclination to be content alone, despite everyday life in the 21st century working against this. Overall, throughout our evolution, seclusion’s been a healthful choice. We need to remind ourselves to be content with this as part of our human makeup, rather than filling our lives with empty noise.

As well as being instinctive, seclusion can strengthen your mental health in drastic ways- not only in our perception of “having peace” but in actual physiological changes! Studies confirm that, despite it seeming counter-intuitive, a controlled amount of time alone helps aid recovery from mental illnesses. This is because dopamine, the chemical responsible for happiness, is released when you take time alone for yourself. The hormonal inequalities which come with issues like depression become balanced, therefore showing how seclusion proves to help our overall mental health- a point which is often overlooked when the topic of solitude is discussed. As a result, solitude is given a terrible reputation, but contrary to our misconceptions, when you’re down, you don’t always need a friend after all.

Why then, if solitude has so many benefits, do people still view it as disturbing? Well, solitude’s escapism is incorrectly seen as making us vulnerable to our inner critics. When we’re alone, with only our thoughts to keep us company, it creates an opportunity for our negative thoughts to overwhelm us. If the drive behind the choice to be alone is maladaptive, it can lead to an increase of the risk of an early death by 29%. However, this only occurs when solitude turns to loneliness. Solitude is a choice while loneliness is a strong indicator of mental health issues. Certainly, too much solitude can be harmful; but if we choose to be alone, our own levels of self-preservation will stop us becoming lonely. In this age where our society is a frantic social whirl, I’m sure you’ll agree that we all need a little time alone. I believe going solitary for a while has many more benefits than it is given credit for, yet people still face stigma for taking advantage of ‘alone time’. We need to learn that it’s okay to be alone.

Cite this Solace In Solitude Essay

Solace In Solitude Essay. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/solace-in-solitude-essay/

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